Japanese in 10 Minutes a Day (10 Minutes a Day) Paperback – 14 May 2008
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About the Author
Kristine K. Kershul blends her experience as a teacher, world traveler and language scholar to create a playful, innovative way to learn and use a new language.
Teacher As an expert linguist, Kristine spent ten years teaching German at universities in the United States and in Europe.
World Traveler An adventurous spirit, Kristine has explored more than 100 countries, from Bhutan to Zimbabwe, and almost every exotic locale in between. She understands the problems that all travelers encounter, regardless of which country they are visiting. She knows first-hand how languages can open doors to new adventures, new friends and different cultures.
Language Scholar Kristine completed her undergraduate and graduate studies while living in Heidelberg, Germany. She then received a second Master's Degree from the University of California in Santa Barbara and subsequently, did her Doctoral studies in Medieval German Languages and Literature. In addition to German, she also speaks a number of other languages ranging from Arabic to Swahili.
A Colorful Background Kristine's fascination for languages began as a child growing up in a tri-lingual household in Oregon, where Croatian, Danish and English were spoken.
Kristine's natural gift for languages opened doors outside the academic world. She worked as a bilingual travel guide in Europe and later, as a translator at the U.S. Embassy in Germany.
On A Personal Note Kristine's passion for travel, foreign languages and new cultures continues to take her around the world. One never knows where she'll venture to next - Namibia, Laos or Guyana. Kristine is a licensed pilot, a certified diver and an avid downhill skier. She enjoys competitive horseback riding and playing the piano. She makes her home in both Seattle, Washington and in Cape Town, South Africa. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
It takes you through the same basics as any other book - common objects, colours, numbers, date and time - but it does it in a far less intimidating way. There are colourful pictures on every page, with all kinds of games and activities, such as crossword puzzles, fill-in-the-blanks, and so on. The book also comes with flash cards, and two pages of little stickers to attach to all the objects in your house.
As well as this, there is an abundance of other good ideas. Key words like where, who, what, when, how many....etc are learned straight off the bat, getting you speaking simple sentences as soon as possible. Every page has a strip of Japanese words along the bottom that borrow from the English, for easy learning of things like "aisu kurímu" (ice cream), and "rajio" (radio). The book's instructions on every page contain the Japanese you've already learned, resulting in sentences like "Say each and every tango (word) carefully, pronouncing each Nihongo (Japanese) sound as well as anata (you) can." As you progress, the English translations are dropped from words you're assumed to know. It's a strategy that really helps get these simple terms hammered into your brain.
There are bad points to the book too though. Romaji is used throughout, with not a single character of kana or kanji involved. This is done on purpose, to keep things as simple as possible, but it still means that a person completing the book will not be able to write a thing. Also, particle words are used in all the example sentences, but their meanings are mostly ignored, leaving the learner to speak them, and not understand why.
But overall, it's a perfect book for what it's designed for - learning the basics, without it ever feeling like a chore. It's ideal for leading into a course, or more complicated textbook.
Don't get me wrong - it is a good tool for the person who doesn't know any Japanese at all, but once you learn kana (hiragana and katakana) it is much more useful to have books which are written in kana than books which are written in romaji.
The tone of the book is quite patronizing, and I don't like the way they bump random Japanese words into English sentences, because it makes the learner confused about Japanese grammar (which is vastly different from English grammar). I like the stickers though, and how colourful and light-hearted the approach is. It's more like a game than studying, which is refreshing.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The heavier technique of Japanese Language doesn't come through the book- verb conjugation and explainations of the particle words that are so tricky. But this book ramps you up to begin studies in other books and programs that aren't as well laid out, or simple to follow.
I don't give it 5 stars because it seriously lacks in teaching actual comprehension. You'll learn a lot of words in this book, but don't expect to learn how to speak or understand natural sentances. There is very little mention of sentance structure or particles.
But, first of all, the good points. For one, it has a sensible layout. It starts with pronunciation and from there moves on to key question words, naming locations of objects, rooms of a house, and so on. Every lesson is short enough to not be overwhelmed by (taking about 10 minutes or so to complete and ponder over), and yet provides you with a lot of useful words and phrases. Each lesson builds off of the previous one, so you probably won't forget what you were supposed to have learned before, since it keeps reminding you of certain important phrases (especially the question words). There are many exercises asking you to write each word a few times so you retain it as well as exercises that ask you to answer questions or recall previously learned information. One of the better features of this book is that it comes with over 150 "sticky labels" that you can attach onto objects around your house. These labels will help you to associate the Japanese word with the concept involved (kagami = mirror, for example). There are also flash cards to cut out, a "PocketPal" guide with essential travel phrases, and a cut out "Menu" section listing Japanese words for common foods and drinks.
Now for the bad points. It's first mistake is in referring to the sound system of Japanese as an "alphabet". It isn't an alphabet, it's a syllabary. Syllabaries are based around sounds, not letters. English is written in the Roman alphabet, which contains letters (a, b, c, d, and so on). Japanese is written in hiragana and katakana, which contains sounds (the sounds a, i, u, e, o, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko, and so on). The book does self-admit using romaji to represent Japanese; romaji is the use of the Roman alphabet to represent Japanese words. For example, everytime you type Japanese words like "sushi" you are already using romaji. I don't really have so much of a problem with their use of romaji, which is typical for this type of beginner's text. I just find it odd that they don't mention anything about Japanese being syllable-based instead of letter-based, because this is very important. They mention nothing about the writing system, except that "Japanese is written in pictograms"! All of their pronunciation information is correct, however.
Another big problem is that particle words are not explained. The book mentions that: "Japanese has many particle words...Often particle words cannot be translated into English. When these particle words have no English equivalents, they will simply be marked (P)." Though this simplifies the matter of learning basic Japanese, which is what this book was designed for, I really wondered about what these mysterious "particle words" were at the time I first was using this book. It seems that Japanese in 10 Minutes a Day could've at least mentioned that "wa" is a particle word introducing the topic of the sentence, "e" indicates direction, and so forth. They are just short little components of sentences, but they are essential to understanding how Japanese grammar works. I later found that almost all of the "10 minutes a Day" series is structured in the same fashion as the Japanese one, with little consideration for the nuances of each language. With this in consideration, it isn't surprising that the particle words weren't explained better.
I remember a lot of the vocabulary and sentences from using this particular book, but I really didn't "get" Japanese after using it. It is a book designed for someone that really doesn't know very much about Japanese and doesn't really desire to know more than the essential words and phrases, approach it in a "fun" manner, and perhaps it may be helpful for a tourist needing to know some degree of Japanese to get by. While this would be an ideal book to get for a young person with an interest in Japanese (it is rather easy to get into and isn't complicated), it's definitely not for someone who is serious about Japanese.
The best things about the book are the friendly font and that instructions are written in an engaging, non-academic tone. Often, the lessons substitute one Japanese word for a common English word until you become accustomed to that particular word, even in the middle of a sentence. For instance, "Doko is the bathroom?" ("Where is the bathroom?")
There are really handy yellow stickers that you can put on objects in your house and the like to help you remember things, and you can cut out ready-made index cards, which were quite portable and helped me en route to Japan.
What's missing from this book are more Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji written clues. Although that might be too much to ask for from a beginning textbook like this, the essentials could be presented so that one could recognize basic signs in the midst of being lost in the Tokyo subway system.
Don't buy this, however, thinking you'll be fluent. It's meant to be, and is, a survival tool for travelers.