Hello everybody! As promised, here is my post on AIATIJ (because who has time to type out the whole title). I have labelled this post as a “textbook experience” rather than a review because I am just a person who blogs about my own language learning and I don’t really feel particularly qualified to review it ‘properly’ as such and I don’t want people to think what I have written about it is definitive. This is just my experience with the book and a chance for you guys to take a look inside and see the structure of the text if you so wish – take from it what you will. In any case, the text and CDs are available to download on the Internet ^^ (I bought the book so I could take it to university + I like paper books). I considered doing a video to accompany this but I decided that my voice sounds too horrible when recorded, and my mum loves to talk on the phone so it’s hard to find a spot in the house to film where the air is not dispersed with Cantonese chitchat =_=
The book comes with 2 CDs inside the front cover. Every dialogue and reading passage (except for the speed reading exercises) has a corresponding track on the CDs, as well as separate listening practice exercises. The pace of the recordings is quite fast.
Table of contents: there are 15 chapters, covering a wide range of topics as you can see. However, if there is one issue with this book, it’s that it is heavily geared towards university students (seeing as it was written by university professors for their students originally). This means that a lot of of the book’s dialogues and reading passages take place in a university or homestay context e.g. dealing with misunderstandings with host parents, university clubs etc. This can be a bit unengaging if you are not a university student and/or not going on exchange. I am a university student and I was sick of it at times. The whole content isn’t student-centric but I’d say about 80% of it is.
Chapter cover page: outlines what the chapter will be teaching you.
Dialogues: There are three dialogues per chapter, incorporating each chapter’s grammar points and topic matter. I appreciated how the conversations were a mix of both formal and informal language by introducing a variety of contexts (speaking to teachers using honorifics, talking with friends etc.). I think this is important for many intermediate learners because most easier textbooks only use formal ます language, leaving people frustrated about not knowing how to communicate in daily situations using more casual forms. The book also has a good section on 敬語 (keigo).
Reading Passages: There is usually one reading passage per chapter, two for the last couple. The passages are a good length and some were a good challenge. They have drawn extracts from a variety of external sources, including books, essays and even a newspaper article (which fits in to the N3 criteria of understanding everyday texts). The first few passages are written horizontally and from then on, they are written vertically, also good practice if you wish to start reading authentic Japanese books.
Vocabulary and Kanji Lists: To be used as one wishes. The kanji lists are divided into kanji that you should be able to read and write and kanji that you should be able to read in each chapter.
Grammar Notes: Each chapter introduces 8-10 points. It might seem like a lot (?) but some of the ‘grammar’ points are actually more like phrases so it’s not that hard. There’s lots of good sample sentences so you can see the points in use and a short explanation to accompany each one. If I felt that I needed a bit more help understanding the point, I just looked online. You could also potentially invest in a grammar dictionary to aid your studies.
I think you could safely say that the grammar is N3 level. Some of it might even be N4 level because I already knew some of it.
Other activities: the other activities included per chapter include classroom speaking activities (maybe if you have a study buddy?), writing practice and listening drills. There are no answers or transcripts provided in the book though, which could be a problem if you want to see how you’re going with your listening
Speed Reading: And last but not least, each chapter finishes off with a speed reading exercise – this is to practice reading quickly and learning how to make educated guesses as to the meanings of unknown words by examining the context (as they don’t want you to look up the words you don’t know).
Thoughts on the book:
- It’s a good book! 😀 Seriously though, I quite enjoyed it haha
- Quite self-learner friendly! 🙂
- I learnt a lot of interesting cultural bits and pieces from it (because not everybody gets to go to Japan =.=)
- It’s quite thorough
- Some of the reading passages were quite challenging, but in a good way
NOT SO GOOD STUFF
- THE UNIVERSITY STUDENT-CENTRIC CONTENT – I DON’T CARE ABOUT HOW TO ASK A TEACHER TO WRITE ME A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION TO GO ON EXCHANGE ETC ETC Sorry for the caps, but it was just annoying that the book’s target audience is so narrow ie a university student studying Japanese and going on exchange in Japan. Having said that, the reading passages are often broader in context and audience.
- Lack of transcripts and answers EDIT: transcripts and listening answers can be found on the Japan Times website (thank you almantina!)
I think that’s about all I have to say about AIATIJ – this is why I feel so ill-placed to review things. I have too much fun learning and studying and these endorphins just kind of blind me to any possible objective faults of resources T.T In any case, I hope that this was helpful / interesting. If any of you guys have used the book or might want to use it in future, let me know in the comments! As I said in my last post, I’m still working through Tobira but I hope that I can post about my experience with it at the end of summer break.
See you guys next time ^_^