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A Japanese textbook for speakers of English written by Akira Miura and Naomi Hanaoka McGloin, published by The Japan Times.

Of the many assorted textbooks I've used throughout my 6 years of studying Japanese on the high school and college levels, I can say that this is one of the better ones. I picked up this book during the summer of 2000 when I participated in the Hokkaido International Foundation's summer program. I even had a chance to meet and speak with one of the authors, Akira Miura, when he visited the program as a guest lecturer. He was gentle and friendly, but obviously knowledgeable, and this text reflects that.

Make no mistake, this is an intermediate-level textbook. I'd reccomend it for students that have completed no less than 1 year of standard college Japanese, or 2 years of standard high school Japanese. It assumes comfortability with hiragana and katakana, as well as 102 simple kanji (mostly 1st grade stuff, with a few common others thrown in).

The chapter format is simple: A page of cultural notes (in English), followed by a series of conversation scripts and usually at least one longer reading piece. This is followed by a listing of new kanji and words, divided by which reading they came in, and listed in the order they appear for easy reference. Next, two lists of kanji, ones you should be able to write from the chapter, and those you should just be able to read. This is followed by explanations of the dozen-or-so new gramatical structures from the chapter, and finished up with some writing practices.

The book is 15 chapters long, and they start to get pretty rough by the end of the book. The intensive summer course I took only made it through chapter 11. Still, in the hands of a good teacher, this textbook makes for an excellent tool in the instruction of the Japanese langauge. Students who had a handle on the words and structures presented in this book would be more than ready for their first study-abroad experience.

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