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on 3 August 2010
This is very much a "first impressions" review - I have just started to learn Japanese, and purchased the Teach Yourself course along with the Japanese from Zero! 1: Proven Techniques to Learn Japanese for Students and Professionals (JFZ) first book to compare approaches.

Teach Yourself Japanese is what I would describe as a traditional approach to language training - the gradual introduction of new vocabulary and grammar through various scenarios (shopping, asking directions) which give you a basic foundation in Part 1; and the development of more sophisticated structures and techniques in Part 2. This works very well for me as my own learning style is to want to understand the grammar thoroughly so I can develop my own use, rather than just memorise a selection of phrases without understanding what's behind their structure.

I find the explanations thorough, consistent and easy to follow, and they build naturally. Grammar and vocabularly is thoroughly exercised so you can check your understanding before moving on to the next stage. I'd contrast this with the JFZ approach which I found a bit superficial, not always clear and sometimes out of sequence. The audio component is good as well, including reading passages, vocabularly, and exercise drills. Having audio support is essential for the development and checking of correct pronunciation, so it's good that the book and the CDs are in synchrony.

The one drawback for me is that it defaults to romaji (Romanised script). Although it does develop kana and kanji, they're set out separately from the rest of the units in stand-alone sections. The explanation given is to allow those who want to develop their speaking skills to do so without having the added complication of the alphabets and character set, but I think it's reasonable to expect anyone who is serious enough about learning Japanese to buy this course to want to master both the spoken and the written elements of the language. So I would have preferred a progression from romaji through kana to kanji as the course progresses, rather than coping with Romanised script throughout.

On that basis, I've given it a four-star and not a five-star review. However, that should not deter the serious student, as there are plenty of other products out there specifically designed to develop kana and kanji. For a relatively modest price, this course aims to take you to Common European Framework Level B2, which is an impressive level of achievement.

It's not for the faint hearted or for someone wanting to spend 15 minutes a day memorising a few phrases! But if you're serious about learning, don't mind the lack of frills in the presentation, and are prepared to put in the time and effort to study hard, I would thoroughly recommend this product to you. Gambatte!
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on 30 June 2016
There are a lot of typos in this, some may even affect your understanding of certain concepts. I only spotted them because I used other study materials. The fact that everything is romaji is a massive minus too, but I was learning the writing system with other materials so I didn't mind too much. This does contain quite a lot of grammar, in a well-presented way, and is good for reinforcing knowledge learnt elsewhere. But do not under any circumstances use this as your primary study material.
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on 2 January 2011
I bought this book as it says on the back cover that it will take the complete beginner through to upper intermediate level Japanese (European Framework B2). IT DOES NOT! For a starter, it only introduces you to about 650-700 words. It also only introduces you to the basic kana scripts and some kanji - but reverts to romanji in the exercises meaning you get very little practice in their use.

According to the European Framework, someone at the B2 level must be able to read and write "complex texts." You cannot read and write anything in Japanese with only a few kanji and the kanas. You will NOT, for example be able to read magazines, newspapers or even children's books after completing this course.

Also, according to the international JLPT standards (administered by the Japanese Ministry of Education), to achieve intermediate level you need to know and be able to use all the 1945 kanji every school child knows in Japan, and you need to understand and be able to use several thousand words. So clearly this book is over estimating the level to which you will progress to using this book - but hey it's a great marketing tool.

The dialogues are very short and filled with English explanations. I had to rip the CD and edit out all the english. That left only about an hours worth of Japanese dialogue left, not nearly enough exposure to get someone to intermediate level. At the back of the book it even suggests you follow up this text with Japanese for Busy People 2. JfBP2 only takes you to advanced beginner, maybe lower intermediate, so again, as they are recommending this book as a follow on study text, the Teach Yourself must finish at the middle beginner level, and that would be about right in my opinion.

Instead of wasting you money (and it is expensive), I would by Berlitz Essential Japanese which costs less than £[]. This book will introduce you to about 800 words, discuss the same grammatical points as the Teach Yourself and comes with a CD of all the dialogues. Also what I liked about Berlitz is that it introduces you to the plain form of verbs early on, whereas Teach Yourself only discusses the plain form near the end of the book which in my opinion is far to late for such an important topic.

After Berlitz you can then move onto "Japanese for Everyone" which does take you to an intermediate level, introducing you to some 2500 words, the kanas and about 450 most commonly used kanji which are used throughout the book in both the dialogue transcripts and the exercises.

What ever you do, DO NOT buy this book! I only gave it one star here because I had too.
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on 16 May 2013
good for speaking but if you want to progress with hiragana as well go for the kanji version of Japanese for busy people
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on 20 January 2016
Really fast delivery and perfect
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on 30 April 2014
It is true. It teaches you to a good level, enough for a trip to Japan! Audio great, teaching strategies very effective
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on 7 February 2012
Broken down into nice easy sections; making it easy to follow, especially if you only have 5 mins to spare.
The book that comes with it is great on its own or with the CDs.
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on 13 August 2013
Seriously? When the CD dosnt follow the book?... yeah sadly no chance for anyone to learn then really :< sorry
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