on 7 June 2007
Already beyond the point of saying I live in X location, have a cat and a dog, have been there/not been there, x is better than y, like X food... discussing abstract ideas, opinion, politics and sciences can be very tricky despite having studied all the essential grammar. When talking with Japanese ESL students the flow of conversation is constantly interrupted by a lack of vocabulary.
Initially "How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese" sounds more like a gimmick for those who want to quickly show off without understanding the meaning of what they are saying. However this book has proved to be extremely useful for expressing an opinion on a range of matters from politics to sciences. For anyone who wants to develop proficiency in Japanese conversation this is essential.
Before picking up this book, I read the Hiragana Times as a vocabulary builder however while the articles were interesting I found myself constantly memorizing words that I probably wouldn't use myself in conversation.
On the other hand reading "How to Sound Intelligent in Japanese" gives you access to all the essential vocabulary to express your thoughts on a range of topics that are important to you in an easy and accessible way. The book is divided into different chapters depending on the subject matter. Related words with similar meanings are grouped together. This is so much easier than looking up random words from an article in a dictionary.
Some may complain of the use of kanji and romaji and no kana however I find little difference between reading in kana or romaji. As long as the kanji readings are there, that is the most important.