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Intermediate Japanese Throughout the 4 Language Abilities vol. 1″


These days, there are a ton of sources out there to study Japanese, most of that are geared towards the newbie degree — offering a platform for brand new learners to get their toes moist earlier than they transfer on to extra advanced materials. Probably the most well-known of the newbie textbooks might be Genki, a two-volume set printed by The Japan Instances initially in 1999, which we wrote a evaluation of right here. Whereas this primary stepping-stone now feels practically ubiquitous, choosing a textbook to select up the place Genki leaves off could be a little harder.

That is the place Quartet is available in. Like Genki, it is a two-volume set of Japanese textbooks printed by The Japan Instances, however not like Genki I and II, Quartet is designed for intermediate learners. Beforehand, the most typical advice for college students after ending Genki was to leap into Tobira: Gateway to Superior Japanese Studying By Content material and Multimedia. Nevertheless, many have famous the steep issue improve this offered, as that e-book is meant for superior learners. The Japan Instances additionally publishes An Built-in Strategy to Intermediate Japanese, although it was final revised in 2008. On this manner, Quartet might be seen as virtually a religious successor to An Built-in Strategy, offering college students a smoother transition from the newbie degree Genki collection into intermediate examine than what was beforehand provided.

As an intermediate Japanese learner who was searching for a easy transition into extra superior sources after ending Genki II, Quartet ended up being the right textbook collection for me. For those who’re not fairly certain the place to show after the Genki collection, or should you had been one way or the other satisfied that Tobira can be one of the best subsequent step, hold studying this text — you may learn the way Quartet helped me step up from the upper-beginner degree and construct a strong basis to have the ability to get pleasure from a variety of native content material as an intermediate learner.

Overview of Quartet Vol.1

The construction of Quartet is easy: every lesson gives sections specializing in the 4 completely different language domains — listening, talking, studying, and writing — in an try to offer a complete useful resource to develop your sensible language expertise. Every quantity consists of six classes, which include round ten grammar patterns, forty-five kanji, and a “studying technique” or two. Quantity One is designed for learners roughly across the N3 degree (primarily based on the 5 JLPT ranges), and Quantity Two is aimed toward N2. I discovered a lot of the vocabulary utilized in Quartet vol.1 to correspond roughly to ranges 25-35 in WaniKani.

The textbook additionally comprises a detachable “supplementary textual content” within the again, which lists the vocabulary and kanji utilized in every lesson. Audio is supplied by way of an app referred to as OTO Navi which will be downloaded onto both iOS or Android units. Lastly, there’s a separate Workbook out there for each volumes that focuses on writing observe, however consists of expanded observe past the textbook in all 4 domains.

In contrast to Genki, there isn’t any central storyline just like Mary’s journey, and apart from occasional instructive diagrams, no illustrations (although there are sometimes pictures accompanying the studying or different sections). Every lesson leads with two readings, which differ in format and tone, adopted by the writing part (which incorporates an instance to information your individual work), a talking part (which equally gives a mannequin dialog), and a listening part.

By Quartet, I used to be in a position to have interaction with native materials whereas nonetheless getting a serving to hand with some new grammar and vocabulary.

As you would possibly be capable of inform by this expansive purpose, Quartet is de facto finest fitted to learning in both a classroom setting, with a trainer, or in a examine group. After all, you’d want somebody to assist verify your writing and to converse with, however that is to not say that Quartet has nothing to supply self-learners. I take classes weekly with a trainer the place we do dialog and writing observe, so I targeted my time on the studying sections. On this manner, I felt Quartet served as virtually a smooth introduction into the favored immersion-style studying, the place learners examine primarily via constant publicity to native content material of their goal language. By Quartet, I used to be in a position to have interaction with native materials whereas nonetheless getting a serving to hand with some new grammar and vocabulary.

Studying Sections

A sample page of Quartets reading section — a description and recipe of nikujaga

The studying sections lead every lesson, and function form of a spine for the content material. These readings aren’t mannequin conversations like in Genki. As a substitute, Quartet gives texts in a spread of various kinds and codecs in an try to finest put together learners for extra native materials. Every part is preceded by a set of questions: two for earlier than studying to assist acclimate to the subject, and two to return to after studying — which will be mentioned with a trainer or class, or just thought of by yourself. Afterwards, Quartet breaks down a number of the strategies employed within the writing, resembling noun modification or expressing requests and thanks, in addition to roughly 10 grammar buildings discovered within the readings.

These sections are a whole lot of enjoyable, and their variety is an enormous plus. Quartet does an excellent job of getting ready you to learn a variety of supplies — not merely well mannered mannequin conversations, however essays, brochures and the like. Beneath the texts, some vocabulary is highlighted and outlined, and furigana is used when relevant.

Here is a listing of the completely different textual content kinds in Quartet:

Lesson OneAn essay on director Hayao Miyazaki, and one other on Nobel Prize-Winner Dr. Shinya Yamanaka
Lesson TwoAn e mail to a professor, and a letter of thanks
Lesson ThreeA brochure on climbing Mount Fuji, and an article describing izakaya
Lesson 4A dialog between change college students, and a chunk written describing employment as a waiter
Lesson 5An article describing and providing tips on a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, and a recipe for nikujaga
Lesson SixAn opinion essay about packaging and its widespread use in Japanese tradition, and one other providing competing viewpoints on the deserves and downsides of early English examine for Japanese college students

By this vary of various sources and voices, Quartet not solely has readings that will curiosity many alternative learners, but additionally exposes you to kinds of writing it’s possible you’ll not often come throughout in your language journey. I believe this units a learner up effectively for constructing their confidence, and getting ready them to dive into different native texts they could discover fascinating sooner or later.

Much like Genki, there is a heavy emphasis positioned on grammar in Quartet. Following the studying part, there are often about ten completely different grammar factors that seem within the textual content defined in additional element. The reasons are sometimes pretty slim, however do an excellent job of not solely conveying how the grammar construction was employed within the textual content, however different makes use of for it. That is completed via the utilization of a number of instance sentences, all of which assist to construct a radical understanding of the purpose mentioned. Moreover, these explanations are a number of the solely locations within the textbook the place English is used.

One small quibble I’ve with the grammar sections is that they have an inclination to focus simply as closely on expressions or turns of phrase as they do on extra typical grammar buildings, however that is due largely to the intermediate nature of the useful resource. However, these expressions are additionally essential to study, and defined completely.

Quartet additionally does a terrific job of constructing on grammar factors launched in earlier classes, in addition to providing widespread pairings, widespread errors, or related buildings and explaining the nuance behind them. Within the workbooks, there are questions to check your comprehension of the readings.

Writing Sections

Subsequent are the writing sections. These construct on the texts offered within the studying sections for some good continuity. For instance, given the primary part’s give attention to well-known Japanese individuals, the primary writing part gives a mannequin essay on the baseball participant Suzuki Ichiro.

These sections are the shortest within the e-book, as they rely closely on doing your individual work and having it checked by a trainer or native speaker. That is a part of the explanation Quartet isn’t finest fitted to learners learning on their very own, however I nonetheless discovered these sections to be worthwhile. For instance, there’s a piece on the tradition and etiquette in writing a letter in Japanese, which I then used a number of the methods taught to ship a postcard to my Japanese trainer, who was very appreciative.

After offering a mannequin to assist perceive the fashion of writing that you simply’re anticipated to observe, Quartet briefly breaks down a number of the methods the writing is using, earlier than reminding you of the grammar buildings you can make use of in your individual work. It then poses a query and a advised phrase rely. These prompts are broad sufficient {that a} vary of codecs can be acceptable, however present simply sufficient of a basis to assist focus.

Within the accompanying workbook there are extra targeted workout routines primarily based on writing which shall be acquainted to learners coming from the Genki collection.

Talking Sections

A sample page of Quartets speaking — a dialogue of asking for directions.

The talking sections of Quartet are a little bit longer than the writing sections. Right here, Quartet gives a collection of questions and prompts for learners to behave out with their classmates or a trainer. Moreover, there are some vocabulary or grammar factors Quartet calls consideration to with a short rationalization and a few instance sentences, however not like within the studying sections, these explanations are all in Japanese.

Just like the writing sections, the talking sections are actually all concerning the work you set into them, and the surroundings wherein you are utilizing Quartet. I used these sections as a framework for observe conversations with my personal trainer, and I additionally chat repeatedly with native Japanese-speaking associates, and for that, I discovered them very useful.

Moreover, these sections include one or two completely different mannequin conversations between varied characters. I believe this element shall be most acquainted to college students who’ve labored via the Genki collection, because it carefully resembles the opening dialogues of every Genki lesson.

Nevertheless, not like Genki, Quartet’s talking sections go even additional in breaking down the conversations, past simply the grammar factors used. They spotlight the circulate of the dialog, and name consideration to a number of the extra essential factors of vocabulary the characters use. On the web page following the dialogue, the dialogue is damaged down into speech bubbles for every character, and additional categorized into elements primarily based on the circulate of the dialog. Quartet additionally provides some descriptors above these bubbles to focus on the intention behind the phrases used. I believe it is a very nice addition, constructing off of what was the primary part in Genki.

Listening Sections

The listening sections additionally are typically pretty transient, however the focus is much less on the steering Quartet offers, and extra so on providing understandable audio to learners. In contrast to many textbooks the place audio is supplied by way of CD (who even has a CD participant anymore?…), in Quartet the audio is distributed by way of an app referred to as “OTO Navi” (“oto” which means “sound” in Japanese).

The app is a bit clumsy, nevertheless it’s not too troublesome to navigate, and offers useful instruments resembling having the ability to change the velocity of the audio performed, loop audio, and return a couple of seconds to double-check your comprehension. The audio is evident, and I used to be shocked at how effectively it held up whereas being slowed for best understanding. Nevertheless, the dialogues coated undoubtedly sound like scripts, and a transcript is supplied within the appendix of every e-book.

The remainder of the part offers inquiries to reply primarily based on the audio, so you possibly can take a look at how effectively you understood. The audio varies just like the texts supplied within the studying sections, nevertheless it feels extra “produced” than the texts.

It is actually a plus to know the audio you are listening to ought to match your present ability degree, nevertheless it’s a little bit stilted. I believe I would advocate simply listening to YouTube movies, materials designed for native audio system (even children!), or one of many quite a few podcasts for Japanese learners that exist.

“Brush Up” Part

A sample page of Quartets Brush Up section showing similar looking kanji

Following the six classes within the e-book, there is a part referred to as “Brush Up.” It is a evaluation part, protecting grammar, kanji, and vocabulary it is best to know up so far. This part is an actual spotlight of the e-book, because it helps lock within the information you’ve got collected and gives a manner to assist deal with any blind spots or factors of examine that may have slipped via the cracks.

I discovered this part to be extraordinarily useful, particularly in the way it conveys info. It covers a whole lot of widespread errors for learners, such because the distinction between あげる, くれる, and もらう, or passive/causative/causative-passive. The kanji-focused part is equally effectively completed, protecting homonyms, related trying kanji, and different widespread errors.

Total, this part offers an effective way to make sure you’ve attained the knowledge you want earlier than shifting on, and as a reference part for widespread errors or lingering difficulties. Moreover, it helps college students and educators distill down a number of the most essential examine factors even additional. I want extra textbooks had one thing like this!

Supplemental Textual content

Past the “Brush Up” part, there’s the supplemental textual content. It is a coral pink booklet, roughly sixty pages lengthy, that separates from the again of the textbook. This manner, you possibly can have the supplemental textual content open subsequent to you when you work via the teachings.

The supplemental textual content comprises a chart with vocabulary, their studying, and a definition, from the studying sections of every lesson. It is a tremendous helpful solution to search for any phrases you may not know with out having to make use of your telephone, a pc, or a secondary dictionary. It additionally offers instance sentences for the vocabulary. This isn’t solely a very nice useful resource to accompany the texts, however is moreover a terrific place to seek out phrases and sentences to enter into an SRS program, or for college students learning for exams in a conventional classroom setting.

The kanji part is equally detailed, with stroke quantity and order, readings, and definitions, even when they differ from how a kanji is used within the textual content.

Is Quartet a Stepping Stone to Success (as an Intermediate Learner)?

A copy of the Japanese textbook, Quartet on a desk.

Total, I discovered the Quartet collection to be a very nice stepping stone after Genki, with quantity I being a better transition into intermediate-level materials than Tobira. There’s little or no hand-holding right here such as you is likely to be used to should you’re coming from Genki, because the e-book is nearly fully in Japanese apart from the grammar explanations, just like Tobira. However when you get acclimated to this, it turns into one of many major strengths of the e-book, permitting a learner to observe their comprehension expertise in a pure method throughout all 4 domains.

Whereas the majority of the content material is devoted to the studying sections, it is not laborious to see how effectively the excellent strategy would work in a classroom or examine group setting. Whereas not all the content material in Quartet is created equal, the strategy works, giving a motivated pupil in the best surroundings all they’d have to take their Japanese to the subsequent degree. But when your learning is fully self-led, maybe it is best to look elsewhere.

In my opinion, I actually loved working via the studying sections particularly, and studying new phrases and grammar via context. The talking, listening, and writing sections additionally supplied a pleasant framework to assist floor my examine and hold it constant.

Most of all, I felt Quartet helped me improve my talents not solely from upper-beginner to an intermediate degree, but additionally improve my learning practices to have interaction with extra native materials. I’ve since delved extra into native books, video games, and movies, and have been in a position to have extra advanced and nuanced conversations with my trainer and associates. Quartet might help you develop the instruments to eat a broader vary of media, and gives methods to study stuff you come throughout in native materials you haven’t seen in your research beforehand.

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