There are more variety of language textbooks to choose from nowadays. It’s great that learners have more choices but at the same time they could be as confused as which one to use if they have no one to consult with.
For Japanese, there are 2 series of Japanese textbooks that I think would be helpful for Japanese beginners: Shin Nihongo No Kiso I & II and Minna No Nihongo I & II. Both series are published by 3A Corporation (or known as 3A Network in Japanese). If you are just after what offers the necessary foundation you need to start with, the 2 series will be good ones to have a look at your local bookstores or the famous Japanese bookstore, Kinokuniya. (Branches outside of Japan: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Taiwan, USA, UAE Dubai)
- Have clear structural layout in each lesson. Students can follow the logic easily.
- Contains conversation section in each lesson for students to apply the vocabularies and sentence patterns just learnt earlier.
- The difficulty level of exercises at the end of each lesson increases as the lesson progresses.
- After every few lessons, a revision section is also added.
- At the end of the books: there are summary notes on things like particles, verb forms, and conjunctions for people to revise and compare.
- Bonus 1: they are pretty good reference textbooks apart from the test focused books to use for JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). Please note that the new JLPT test has 5 levels now.
- Bonus 2: the 2 series would also fit with the Australian high school syllabus for the senior secondary exams (Year 12).
- Shin Nihongo No Kiso I &II focuses more on company trainees in business situation but still contains content for general public.
- Target Audience of Minna No Nihongo I & II focuses more on general public but still contains formal application such as honorific form.
For visual type learners and learners who want different format of study materials like comics, you can also try:
- Japanese in Mangaland 1-3: Marc Bernabe and published by Tokyo, Japan: Japan Publications Trading.
- Japanese the Manga Way: Wayne P. Lammers and published by Stone Bridge Press.
Tips on Choosing Appropriate Japanese Textbooks to Start With
- Make a list on what you like to get out a textbooks
- Think what type of learner you are. e.g., visual, audio, etc.
- Cross-reference point 1 and 2 with textbooks available on the market online and offline before getting one.
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