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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 stage — offering a platform for brand new learners to get their toes moist earlier than they transfer on to extra advanced materials. Essentially the most well-known of the newbie textbooks might be Genki, a two-volume set printed by The Japan Occasions initially in 1999, which we wrote a overview of right here. Whereas this primary stepping-stone now feels almost ubiquitous, choosing a textbook to choose 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 Occasions, however not like Genki I and II, Quartet is designed for intermediate learners. Beforehand, the commonest suggestion for college students after ending Genki was to leap into Tobira: Gateway to Superior Japanese Studying Via Content material and Multimedia. Nevertheless, many have famous the steep issue enhance this offered, as that ebook is meant for superior learners. The Japan Occasions additionally publishes An Built-in Strategy to Intermediate Japanese, although it was final revised in 2008. On this approach, Quartet may very well be seen as virtually a non secular successor to An Built-in Strategy, offering college students a smoother transition from the newbie stage Genki sequence into intermediate research than what was beforehand provided.

As an intermediate Japanese learner who was in search of a easy transition into extra superior sources after ending Genki II, Quartet ended up being the proper textbook sequence for me. If you happen to’re not fairly certain the place to show after the Genki sequence, or when you had been in some way satisfied that Tobira could be the perfect subsequent step, hold studying this text — you will learn how Quartet helped me step up from the upper-beginner stage 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 straightforward: every lesson affords sections specializing in the 4 totally different language domains — listening, talking, studying, and writing — in an try to offer a complete useful resource to develop your sensible language abilities. 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 stage (based mostly on the 5 JLPT ranges), and Quantity Two is geared 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 incorporates a detachable “supplementary textual content” within the again, which lists the vocabulary and kanji utilized in every lesson. Audio is offered through an app known as OTO Navi which may be downloaded onto both iOS or Android gadgets. Lastly, there’s a separate Workbook out there for each volumes that focuses on writing observe, however contains expanded observe past the textbook in all 4 domains.

Not like Genki, there is no central storyline just like Mary’s journey, and other than occasional instructive diagrams, no illustrations (although there are often photographs accompanying the studying or different sections). Every lesson leads with two readings, which fluctuate in format and tone, adopted by the writing part (which incorporates an instance to information your personal work), a talking part (which equally affords a mannequin dialog), and a listening part.

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

As you would possibly be capable to inform by this expansive goal, Quartet is admittedly greatest fitted to learning in both a classroom setting, with a trainer, or in a research 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 centered my time on the studying sections. On this approach, I felt Quartet served as virtually a smooth introduction into the favored immersion-style studying, the place learners research primarily by means of constant publicity to native content material of their goal language. Via Quartet, I used to be in a position to interact 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 kind of a spine for the content material. These readings aren’t mannequin conversations like in Genki. As a substitute, Quartet affords texts in a variety of various kinds and codecs in an try to greatest 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 may be mentioned with a trainer or class, or just thought of by yourself. Afterwards, Quartet breaks down a few of the methods employed within the writing, comparable to noun modification or expressing requests and thanks, in addition to roughly 10 grammar constructions discovered within the readings.

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

This is an inventory of the totally different textual content kinds in Quartet:

Lesson One An essay on director Hayao Miyazaki, and one other on Nobel Prize-Winner Dr. Shinya Yamanaka
Lesson Two An e-mail to a professor, and a letter of thanks
Lesson Three A brochure on climbing Mount Fuji, and an article describing izakaya
Lesson 4 A dialog between change college students, and a chunk written describing employment as a waiter
Lesson 5 An article describing and providing tips on a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, and a recipe for nikujaga
Lesson Six An 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 research for Japanese college students

Via this vary of various sources and voices, Quartet not solely has readings that will curiosity many various learners, but in addition exposes you to kinds of writing you might not often come throughout in your language journey. I feel this units a learner up effectively for constructing their confidence, and getting ready them to dive into different native texts they could discover attention-grabbing 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 totally different grammar factors that seem within the textual content defined in additional element. The reasons are sometimes pretty slim, however do a very good job of not solely conveying how the grammar construction was employed within the textual content, however different makes use of for it. That is executed by means of the utilization of a number of instance sentences, all of which assist to construct an intensive understanding of the purpose mentioned. Moreover, these explanations are a few 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 a tendency to focus simply as closely on expressions or turns of phrase as they do on extra standard grammar constructions, however that is due largely to the intermediate nature of the useful resource. Nonetheless, these expressions are additionally necessary to study, and defined totally.

Quartet additionally does an ideal job of constructing on grammar factors launched in earlier classes, in addition to providing widespread pairings, widespread errors, or comparable constructions 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 affords a mannequin essay on the baseball participant Suzuki Ichiro.

These sections are the shortest within the ebook, as they rely closely on doing your personal work and having it checked by a trainer or native speaker. That is a part of the rationale Quartet is just not greatest fitted to learners learning on their very own, however I nonetheless discovered these sections to be helpful. For instance, there’s a bit on the tradition and etiquette in writing a letter in Japanese, which I then used a few of the methods taught to ship a postcard to my Japanese trainer, who was very appreciative.

After offering a mannequin to assist perceive the model of writing that you just’re anticipated to observe, Quartet briefly breaks down a few of the methods the writing is using, earlier than reminding you of the grammar constructions you might make use of in your personal work. It then poses a query and a urged phrase depend. These prompts are broad sufficient {that a} vary of codecs could be acceptable, however present simply sufficient of a basis to assist focus.

Within the accompanying workbook there are extra centered workouts based mostly on writing which can be acquainted to learners coming from the Genki sequence.

Talking Sections

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

The talking sections of Quartet are slightly longer than the writing sections. Right here, Quartet affords a sequence 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 place into them, and the surroundings during which you are utilizing Quartet. I used these sections as a framework for observe conversations with my personal trainer, and I additionally chat often with native Japanese-speaking buddies, and for that, I discovered them very useful.

Moreover, these sections include one or two totally different mannequin conversations between varied characters. I feel this element can be most acquainted to college students who’ve labored by means of the Genki sequence, because it intently 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 stream of the dialog, and name consideration to a few of the extra necessary 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 components based mostly on the stream of the dialog. Quartet additionally provides some descriptors above these bubbles to spotlight the intention behind the phrases used. I feel this can be a very nice addition, constructing off of what was the principle part in Genki.

Listening Sections

The listening sections additionally are typically pretty transient, however the focus is much less on the steerage Quartet offers, and extra so on providing understandable audio to learners. Not like many textbooks the place audio is offered through CD (who even has a CD participant anymore?…), in Quartet the audio is distributed through an app known as “OTO Navi” (“oto” that means “sound” in Japanese).

The app is a bit clumsy, nevertheless it’s not too tough to navigate, and offers useful instruments comparable to having the ability to change the pace of the audio performed, loop audio, and return a number of seconds to double-check your comprehension. The audio is obvious, 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 offered within the appendix of every ebook.

The remainder of the part offers inquiries to reply based mostly on the audio, so you may check how effectively you understood. The audio varies just like the texts offered within the studying sections, nevertheless it feels extra “produced” than the texts.

It is definitely a plus to know the audio you are listening to ought to match your present talent stage, nevertheless it’s slightly stilted. I feel I might 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 ebook, there is a part known as “Brush Up.” It is a overview part, protecting grammar, kanji, and vocabulary you must know up thus far. This part is an actual spotlight of the ebook, because it helps lock within the data you’ve got amassed and affords a approach to assist deal with any blind spots or factors of research which may have slipped by means of 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 executed, protecting homonyms, comparable trying kanji, and different widespread errors.

General, this part offers an effective way to make sure you’ve attained the data 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 few of the most necessary research 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 may have the supplemental textual content open subsequent to you when you work by means of the teachings.

The supplemental textual content incorporates a chart with vocabulary, their studying, and a definition, from the studying sections of every lesson. It is a tremendous helpful solution to lookup 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 an ideal place to seek out phrases and sentences to enter into an SRS program, or for college students learning for exams in a standard 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.

General, I discovered the Quartet sequence 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 when you’re coming from Genki, because the ebook is nearly totally in Japanese other than the grammar explanations, just like Tobira. However when you get acclimated to this, it turns into one of many major strengths of the ebook, permitting a learner to observe their comprehension abilities in a pure method throughout all 4 domains.

Whereas the majority of the content material is devoted to the studying sections, it is not arduous to see how effectively the excellent strategy would work in a classroom or research group setting. Whereas not all the content material in Quartet is created equal, the strategy works, giving a motivated scholar in the proper surroundings all they’d must take their Japanese to the following stage. But when your learning is totally self-led, maybe you must look elsewhere.

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

Most of all, I felt Quartet helped me improve my talents not solely from upper-beginner to an intermediate stage, but in addition 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 buddies. Quartet might help you develop the instruments to eat a broader vary of media, and affords methods to study belongings you come throughout in native materials you haven’t seen in your research beforehand.

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