Issue 9: J-Book Review
Forget generic studio recordings, listen to real Japanese!
istening is, just like speaking, an important part of learning Japanese. There’s a broad variety of Japanese audio material ranging from audio CD’s, books to podcasts. While I think podcasts are great, I do often like to have a book as a supplement to it.
Most books on listening comprehension use voice actors and studio recorded conversations, while easier to understand, it’s simply not the same as real natural speech heard in daily life. What’s great about this book『Live from Tokyo、生の日本語を聞き取ろう！』is that it uses audio conversations from real-life situations in a real life environment. No voice actors, just natural conversations between Japanese as you would hear it on the ‘street’.
Studio Audio vs The Real Thing
Studio recorded audio material is great to listen to and learn from but in real life people talk in various ways. Different speed, tones and voices might suddenly sound unfamiliar to the untrained ear, making a conversation difficult to follow. People in everyday life talk in their own way, pronunciation isn’t as heavily emphasized as a voice actor would do and the notorious Japanese machine-gun-speed-talk is in full force. To get a feel and train yourself for it,『Live from Tokyo、生の日本語を聞き取ろう！』provides audio material taken from real-life situations in, like the title says, all kinds of places in and around Tokyo. Whether it’s buying something at a convenient store, getting a train ticket or experiencing a tea ceremony, 2 audio CD’s as well as an accompanying textbook provide great audio material.
The Textbook & Method
The accompanying textbook (which I have to mention has a great layout and color photos) has 17 chapters each covering a topic. Each chapter consists of 3 sections and features 3 different conversations/audio. After reading the topic outline in the first section, you listen to the audio clip and at the end of it there will be a question. At this point it’s ok if you can’t follow everything, section two takes each dialog and lists key expressions and words with Japanese explanation followed by English, Chinese and Korean. After studying these, listen to the dialog again and try to answer the question. The final third section shows a full transcript of each dialog as well as the question.
Extra reading sections provide you with more interesting information and bits of knowledge regarding each topic. At the end of each chapter a mini quiz in JLPT style will test what you have learned in the previous dialogues. The back of the book has a vocabulary list and a separate “teacher’s” booklet holds all the answers as well as full transcripts of the mini quizzes and more reading (actually they’re more like pointers for the ‘teacher’ to do in class).
The book is recommended for all levels of Japanese learners, I don’t agree. Because of the natural speed (machine-gun-speed-talk) and heavy use of『丁寧語 (ていねいご、polite speech)』,『敬語 (けいご、respectful language)』and『謙譲語 (けんじょうご、humble speech)』it is more suited for intermediate to upper intermediate learners. Beginners need not try (gomen ne).
The main attraction of『Live from Tokyo、生の日本語を聞き取ろう！』are its two audio CD’s with almost 70 dialoges. While not every clip has clear spoken dialogues and you might have to listen to them over and over again, it’s as real as it gets to actually being in and around Tokyo. This let’s you develop an ear for real-life spoken Japanese. The beautifully designed book and the many topics make it excellent study material for listening comprehension and the added JLPT style quizzes prep you along the way for JLPT. Because the book is so allround and complete, it can even be seen as a stand alone study book in addition to being a (luxurious) supplement to your Japanese studies.
• title: Live from Tokyo、生の日本語を聞き取ろう！
• pages: 147
• dimensions: 25.7 x 18.2 cm
• extra: CD x 2 • teacher’s supplement
• language: Japanese – English – Chinese – Korean
• publisher: ASK (www.ask-digital.co.jp)
• order: http://www.whiterabbitpress.com
• ISBN: 978-4-7890-1357-4
• special Chokochoko rating: 90%