The Japanese From Zero Series

The Japanese From Zero Series

Difficulty ☠

Rating ✫✫✫✫

*Note: All Ratings will be Out of 5*

I am starting with this one because it was the first series I read through, and I think it holds a lot of merit.

Japanese from Zero is a series written by a translator named George Trombley Jr and has a unique feature to it that I personally found helpful for learning. That feature would be how they introduce you to Japanese characters.

Each book focuses on a different part of the Japanese writing system. Book 1 focuses on Hiragana, Book 2 on Katakana, and books 3 and 4 on Kanji, while also teaching you the basics of Japanese grammar and vocabulary. The trick to it however is that instead of simply giving you the complete alphabet on page 1 and then writing the whole book in said characters, Japanese from Zero uses a progressive system. Each chapter introduces you to a new row or two of it’s alphabet, and then replaces ONLY those characters. What starts out as a book mostly written in Romaji (Japanese writing in English characters) ends up being almost all in Japanese by the end.

Each lesson builds on the previous like this, so it is best not to skip ahead, and the workbook portions of it are great for review including practice on writing out the characters with the proper stroke order as well as translation and conversation practice.

Now this book series is not perfect in itself. There are a few times they mess up on their own progressive system, introducing characters you have not learned yet that throws you off when you’re focused, as well I found it to not be very useful for learning pronunciation or casual conversations. Because it covers such a broad amount of information it can appear to move slowly and yet be somewhat overwhelming at the same time.

That being said, while it is not the best as a one and only text book, but if you want to focus on improving your written Japanese, I can think of no series that does it better!

So You Want to Study Japanese?

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Good for you! o(〃^▽^〃)o There are numerous reasons why learning any second language is an incredibly rewarding experience, and even more as to why learning Japanese specifically is rewarding.

Some of the good reasons are:

  • It broadens your horizons
  • It improves your cognitive abilities
  • You learn words you to describe things you can’t in English
  • It lets you meet new people (Who are incidentally AWESOME people!)
  • It’s surprisingly fun to switch languages when no one understands
  • Japan has an amazingly rich culture and beautiful locations
  • Japanese culture is a great contrast to learn from compared to Western culture
  • Japanese people have (in my experience) been very rewarding to talk to
  • It’s really fun to see peoples’ reactions when you speak in Japanese
  • Japanese Anime voice actors rock!

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Some NOT so good reasons are:

  • To be rich/famous (Japan has one of the largest NEEDS for natural English speakers and one of the stronger economies out there but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a LOT of people studying the language)
  • To Experience anime-land (Sorry to say it, but the land of awakening powers, clothes bursting foods, and dozens of girls flocking to you simply because you care about your well being does not exist. Japanese people are just people… just like us…. oh except the food bit…. ya that is pretty mouth wateringly amazing!)
  • To Look down your noses at anyone (Just… don’t okay?)

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So now that that’s out of the way.

Why Make this Guide? And Who Are you to Make it?

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Essentially, I have been asked a few times now if I could suggest what resources I have been using to study Japanese these last 3 years. I am NOT an expert Japanese speaker, however I AM an expert in being a horrible learner, so if nothing else, if “I” say it’s easy you can know I REALLY mean it! Also, After 3 years of studying on my own I have scoured the internet relentlessly for any and every resource tied to Japanese learning, so if I can help you avoid some of the time I spent searching, I’ve done my job!

So, without further ado! Let’s begin!