General inc teaching

Language & Grammar

Kana & Kanji


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There is a wide range of books designed to teach the Japanese language. Some concentrate on the spoken language and usually represent Japanese words in Romanised script (Romaji) and may be backed up by cassette or video tapes to aid pronunciation; others include written Japanese in a language course while a third type concentrate solely on teaching the native syllabaries (Hiragana and Katakana) or Chinese characters (Kanji). Most have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it is not possible to recommend a single "best buy". Students are advised to go to a specialist bookshop - see introduction for addresses - and see which writer's style and method you find congenial. At present we are still cataloguing our collection of Japanese language books so this section will grow as we make progress.

Constantine Peter
Japanese Street Slang
Tengu Books NY 1992
An eye-opener for anyone who thinks that Japanese is a language in which it is impossible to be anything but polite! This is how the Japanese speak when they are not being polite and the book includes expressions which either never get into the dictionaries, or if they do, are translated by a tame phrase which loses the original meaning. Entertaining, but not if you're easily shocked!

Kaiser Stefan (editor)
Japanese Language Teaching in the Nineties
Materials and Course Design
Japan Library (Curzon Press) 1993
Papers from a conference on Japanese Language Teaching (SOAS 1991) - heavy going!

Roland A
The Phonology of Eighth-Century Japanese
A Reconstruction Based upon Written Records
Sophia University Tokyo 1973

Not for the faint-hearted! A very solid linguistic analysis of how Japanese might have sounded in the Nara periodIf you've wondered why we talk about 'yen' but it's usually written and pronounced 'en' this shows how such changes in the language have developed.

Lunde Ken
Understanding Japanese Information Processing
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc CA 1993
Very technical but well-presented explanations of how Japanese is represented on computers and descriptions of Japanese WP systems.

Mitsubishi Corporation
Words Mean Business
A Basic Japanese Business Glossary
Times Books International 1984
Notes in Japanese and English on the usage of words commonly used in business.

Passin Herbert
Japanese and the Japanese
Language and Culture Change
Kinseido 1980
Analysis in the form of short essays on the cultural differences which distinguish Japanese from Western languages and the influence which other civilisations, principally Chinese, have had in the past on the language and culture and the effect which English is having now. Helpful to have some knowledge of Japanese but can be read simply for the cultural aspects.

Seward Jack
Japanese in Action
Weatherhill 1983
Mixture of anecdotes and examples of Japanese speech at different levels of politeness. Very good for cultural background but not a book for beginners to the language.

Suzuki Takao
Words in Context
A Japanese Perspective on Language and Culture
Kodansha International Ltd 1978
The author seeks to explain, in simple terms, in what sense language is culture and how language relates to other aspects of culture. Good for highlighting the way common words are interpreted differently in different cultures, but repetitive at times. Can be read without a knowledge of Japanese.

Language and Grammar

Aoki, Hirose, Keller, &Sakuma Haruo, Masayosi, Jean & Katuhiko
Basic Structures in Japanese
Taishukan Publishing Co Tokyo 1984
Grammar book, suitable for more advanced students. To get the best out of it you need to read Kana and some Kanji, but in many cases English translations are given.

Association for Japanese-Language Teaching
Japanese for Busy People - The Workbook
Drills for Oral Fluency
Kodansha International 1993
Supports lessons in the main text book by giving practice in the concepts learned.

Dunn & Yanada CJ & S
A complete course for beginners
Hodder & Stoughton, Teach Yourself 1982

Motohashi & Hayashi Fujiko & Satoko
24 Tasks for Basic Modern Japanese Vol 1
The Japan Times 1992 (7th ed)
4-7890-0472-4 (Companion cassette 4-7890-0473-2)
Exercises designed for practice in class working often in pairs, so not useful for individual study. However exercises are varied and imaginative - a useful aid for teachers.

Kana and Kanji

Kanji Text Research Group University of Tokyo
250 Essential Kanji
for everyday use
Charles E Tuttle Co Inc 1993
Good explanations of derivations of useful Kanji. Needs knowledge of Hiragana to get the most from it.

Moriyama Tae
The Practical Guide to Japanese Signs
1st Part - Especially for Newcomers
2nd Part - Making Life Easier

Kodansha International 1987
0-87011-790-4, 0-87011-791-2
Explanation of Kanji and the most common signs travellers are likely to meet - part 2 covers less common situations.


Kamiya Taeko
New Dictionary of Loanwords in Japanese
A User's Guide to Gairaigo
Charles E Tuttle Co 1994
Useful adjunct to a main Japanese dictionary listing weird borrowings which may not appear in the main line works.

Takahashi Morio
Takahashi's Pocket Romanized English-Japanese Dictionary
Taisedo Shobo 1976


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