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Oxford Take Off In Japanese: Complete Language Learning Pack (Audio CD)

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£14.99 Best Offer by: amazon.co.uk Marketplace See more offers
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Author: Lynne Strugnell / Genre: Languages / Pages: 256

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      22.10.2008 21:13
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      I already had some knowlege of Japanese when I bought this, and intended to use it just for revision and getting slightly ahead of the rest of my class (because I'm a teachers pet like that!). I ended up sticking at it longer than I intended because I found it very helpful.

      The pack contains 4 CD's with 5 hours of recorded material, and a workbook. The book contains a good guide to pronounciation, which is backed up by the CD. This was helpful because the vowels in Japanese are pronounced in a slightly different way than how an English speaker would automatically try to read them. It also provided tables for Hiragana and Katakana, although I felt there was very little attempt made to motivate a beginner to learn these properly, as using these can prod you into remembering the correct pronounciation of vowels.

      Each of the 14 sections is split into 5 lessons, and followed by a test intended to review what you learned. This means you can choose how much to do, as you can complete one short lesson, or the larger section and test. The tests are also useful, as you can check to see what you've forgotten.

      Most lessons contain a dialogue which appears on the CD in a naturalish speed, although its worth listening to the dialogue to see if you can understand anything first, and then using the vocabulary list and romaji transcript to figure it out for yourself.

      Also, there are language building sections which list grammar rules and extra words. You have to read these carefully, because they appear in the tests and also in later dialogues so don't fall behind on them! I find these sections quite irritating to study, however, probably because no attempt is made to engage you with the new information, so its easy to just skim without realising you're doing it.

      A particularly annoying example was with numbers, and the time in minutes. Rather than trying to help you remember these, they're just listed, and when dealing with hundred, you're left to figure out yourself how to distinguish between those ending in -hyaku, -byaku and -pyaku.

      Minutes are even more terribly explained, as they're listed under 1-5 and 6-10. It would have been more helpful to list them in a group where it ends in -pun and another in -fun. If you've not already got your numbers straight, you're best just figuring it out yourself first, or you'll fail the test in the chapter just on this.

      Contained in each section are special units called Midori-ya, which focus on a running story about a strange group of people whose lives revolve around the bar. I guess its helpful because its a nice way of showing Japanese spoken in personal situations (as opposed to "please give me..." and "where is the...?" which the book quite sensibly deals with most of the time.)

      I'm not sure if I'm alone in hating most of the characters, and being unable to distinguish their voices from each other except on gender, but I find this quite annoying, but you can read the dialogue (written in a small font) which helps a little.

      Also contained are culture sections, where you can relax a little as the tasks are fairly easy. These contain useful information about actually spending time in Japan, including finding an address and eating out.

      The CD contains sections where you have to repeat back phrases. These are useful because speaking out loud is very different from just saying it in your head. Also, there are terrifying activities where you have to think on your feet and think up an answer in Japanese. This is much harder than you'd expect, but you can't expect people in everyday situations to write down everything they say, give you a moment to study it, give you a moment to allow you to use a dictionary and then respond, however tempting!

      An extra complaint I have is the book, as I found that although I've not lost any pages yet, some are coming quite loose already.

      There are some annoying aspects, but mostly its a good introduction and can be used by anyone from an absolute beginner to somebody with a good basis in the language who would like to revise and pick up a little extra vocabulary.

      The RRP is £25.99, but there's no need to pay this, as I found it on amazon really cheaply.

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    • Product Details

      256 page book with icons throughout, indicating when to listen to the audio.