When it comes to the best, easiest to follow Japanese learning books, textbooks tend to teach the language in its most correct form. These books can guide you through crucial vocabulary, major grammar points, and forms of speech, using a step by step process.
While it’s good to learn fun expressions and slang, a serious student will need to know how to speak proper Japanese.
How to Choose the Best Japanese Textbooks to get a Better Handle on the Language
Finding a good, easy to use a book on the Japanese language can make all of the difference in the world. A book that’s too advanced for your skill level can be a waste of money, time, and energy. So, which books are the best books to learn this language?
The answer will depend on you. Before you rush out and purchase a book or order one online consider the following:
- Skill level
- Studying needs
- Learning style
- Future language needs
Most formal courses often have their own textbooks, so you might not need to search for one if you’re already enrolled in a course that teaches basic Japanese. But if you’re studying on your own, you’ll need to find the right book that’s easy to follow.
- Japanese textbooks often focus on major lessons, which are divided up into topics such as asking for directions, greetings, or shopping.
- These lessons come complete with practice exercises, grammar tables, vocabulary lists, and even audio.
- Some will even feature an online component that allows the student to take tests, ask questions, and interact with other students.
One of the most popular series of books available for learning Japanese is called Japanese from Zero. The book is very approachable, easy to use and is relatively new.
It’s perfect for the beginner or intermediate students and it follows lesson-based plans that cover pronunciation, writing, vocabulary, and grammar. If you’re interested in extra practice, you can purchase workbooks which are sold separately.
Living Language Japanese is another great choice. You’ll be able to find books that are specific to your skill level or you can purchase the entire series that contains books for all levels of learning. Each book in the series comes with a CD for listening and speaking practice. This series will also work well as a stand-alone course if you’re not enrolled in a formal program.
Popular Japanese Grammar Books
If you want to take your Japanese language education to the next level, a grammar book will be essential. There are a couple of basic types to choose from: practice based books which will teach you grammar through a series of exercises, or reference books which are designed to provide big picture information.
Quick Tip: Practice Makes Perfect is obviously a practice-based book. A student will learn grammar through a number of lessons that focus on the essentials. This book is ideal for beginners because it’s so easy to understand and use. The included exercises cover writing and phonetics.
- A book called A Guide to Japanese Grammar is comprehensive and very detailed. The book covers phonetics, writing, grammar and much more. This book will make a useful reference and includes a section on slang that’s used in the real world.
- The book Japanese Verbs and Essentials of Grammar is a hundred and sixty pages in length and offers a highly-organized layout that’s designed for easy reference. This book is the perfect choice for the beginner.
Brushing Up on Your Japanese Vocabulary
Learning the Japanese vocabulary is a steady, slow process. There are several books designed to help the student to learn the words they need in order to become fluent in Japanese. Just keep in mind that a dictionary isn’t the same thing as a vocab book.
- The Handbook of Japanese Verbs focuses on the usage of verbs.
- This book explains how verbs work and conjugate.
- You’ll find plenty of exercises to try, all of which are designed to help you quickly progress.
- This book is a good choice for both beginner and intermediate students.
- The book titled Modern Japanese Vocabulary is another vocabulary building option that organizes the terms based on topic.
You’ll find a wide range of subject matter including history, culture, dentistry, the internet, and law. This book is a great choice for the beginner who is looking for an easier way to expand their vocabulary.
Now, on to Japanese dictionaries.
Japanese Dictionary Hot Sellers
Not all Japanese dictionaries are created equal. Some dictionaries are better than others, and some are easier to use.
The Random House Japanese Dictionary is ideal for both the beginner and intermediate student. The book is divided into a couple of sections: English-Japanese and Japanese-English.
Quick Tip: Kenkyusha’s Japanese dictionary is probably the most in-depth, thorough dictionary on the market. Many of the included entries feature sub-entries. This book is often used by professionals and translators. It’s also the go-to dictionary for the student who plans to study Japanese for many years.
Japanese Writing Lessons
Another essential asset for any student of Japanese is Kanji books. Some of these books are designed to help a student to learn Japanese characters, while others are more designed as references. Both types are useful for anyone who wants to become fluent in Japanese.
Quick Tip: The Nelson Japanese Character Dictionary has been the go-to Kanji dictionary for many students. This dictionary includes a wide range of characters that can be looked up based on stroke count, pronunciation, or radical. This book is perfect for students of any level.
The Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters is designed to help the student master Kanji. It features all of the general use characters and offers an extremely detailed etymology for each one. This book is ideal for intermediate and advanced users.
Final Thoughts on the Best Textbooks to Learn Japanese
These books are awesome for building a stronger foundation in Japanese. Keep in mind that in order to easily learn the Japanese language, it’s important that you choose Japanese learning books based on your current skill level instead of your language goals.
This is definitely a tough language to learn and it can be very discouraging if you’re solely using options that are designed for advanced students.