みんなの日本語 [Minna No Nihongo] – Including Me

Hi folks. I’ve realised that I don’t write about books very often on this blog. There’s a reason for that – I don’t read many, as my Japanese reading ability is nearly non-existent. I read a few things in English but that doesn’t seem very relevant.

Well, today there is a book that I’m reading, and it is in Japanese. It is a Japanese textbook called “Minna no Nihongo.”

minnanonihongo

This is a bit weird for me. Having embraced the “All Japanese, All The TimeDIY methodology of learning real Japanese sentences, I had been avoiding textbooks. And teachers.

But then I found I really wanted to talk to people. And the only place to find them was the internet. (I mean, it was the only place to find people who spoke Japanese. If I’d wanted to learn a Somerset accent I’d have my pick of people to choose from in real life.)

But, without ever having had a lesson or anything, I found that I had no courage with which to approach a potential language partner. I made an italki profile but then couldn’t bring myself to inflict my dangerously bad Japanese onto anyone. (Note: Lack of confidence is a major issue for me in everything that I do.)

So I hired a teacher instead (she’s paid to endure my bad Japanese!). And then I got a textbook.

I was afraid that using a textbook would feel too slow, and it does. However, I feel like using it on a one-to-one basis with a Japanese teacher (who, by the way, is a native Japanese speaker) is really plugging up some gaps in my knowledge and making me more confident to speak. So maybe some of the vocabulary is a bit basic – there are basic things that I didn’t know. (Like “shoe” – how’d I learn “planet” and not “shoe”?) And the verbs are all super polite – well that’s not really a problem. I’ll need to be super polite when speaking, at first, because I don’t know anyone. (And I’m still watching enough anime to learn how not to be polite.)

Minna no nihongo is completely in Japanese. That’s why I got it, as opposed to anything else. And that part of it is really awesome. I can read aloud from an entirely Japanese textbook. That is something I completely taught myself. I go a bit slow and I’m frustrated with how bad I am at it, but I can do it. And the more I do it, the better I’ll get. So I can feel like I’m making progress, and that makes it fun. (When it’s no longer fun, I’ll stop doing it.)

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9 thoughts on “みんなの日本語 [Minna No Nihongo] – Including Me

  1. Hello,
    First, I just want to say that I enjoy your blog very much (I am also trying to learn Japanese and appreciate various things in Japanese (pop) culture). You’re a good writer and it makes it very interesting to read!

    Second, I’m looking for a (very simple :P) book in Japanese to read, but I’m afraid that my Japanese is really, really bad. If you think that your reading ability is bad and you still manage to read a textbook like that, I don’t want to think about how bad my reading ability is. 😉 I can basically just form very basic sentences and my vocabulary is completely non-existent. Do you think that book (Minna no Nihongo) would be OK or is it far to advanced?

    E

    • Hello,
      Thank you so much for your comment! I think your blog is great – I often overlook the blatant sexism embedded in popular culture, so thank you for calling it out. 🙂

      Hmmm. Minna no nihongo. I wouldn’t say it’s advanced at all, so I don’t think you would have a problem with it, especially if you got the English translation for reference. They do have a bad habit of introducing new words with no explanation, so having a dictionary to hand is quite useful for me.

      Only thing is, well, it’s a bit boring. I’m serious. Mr Miller is a company employee – why should I care, exactly? I mostly like it because it serves as a good backbone to work from with my one-to-one teacher, but we routinely go off topic.

      Otherwise, I’ve looked for basic Japanese books to read and bought a few but have yet to make much progress in any of them…I’m such a book snob, I only want things that end up being way beyond me, like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. In the meantime I’m copying sentences out of the Japanese dictionary app on my iPod.

      So I guess my answer is, go for it. It is easy enough to understand, and if you get sick of it you can always resell it on Amazon. 🙂

  2. OK, thank you for your reply. I found it and the English/Grammatical translation on Amazon so I’ll probably order it today. 🙂

    Oh, I know exactly what you mean by boring! I’ve only studied Japanese through online courses so far, and seriously, some of them are just extremely boring. There’s so much: “This is Mr Miller. This is Mr Miller’s Wife. Mr Miller is a company employee.”… Who cares?

    Ha! I also always want books that are way beyond my level. When I started study French at university I thought I would be able to read Flaubert within a year… Now, after two years, I still don’t even manage to read the simplest picture books for children without having to look up every other word.

    Good luck with the book, I may ask you if I run into any problems with it. 😉

    • Oh, man, and French is supposed to be “easier” than Japanese because of the Roman alphabet!

      Oh well. Good luck with the book. I spend more time watching anime with the subtitles off than trying to read books because the pictures move! 🙂

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  4. Just wanted to say がんばって! I’ve always wondered about ‘Minna no Nihongo’ because I see it everywhere! My first Japanese textbook was ‘Genki’ (required for the course I was taking), it wasn’t bad, but it’s very student-oriented (as in, all the situations are about being an exchange student). There’s also a lot of English explanation which I liked, but you may not. Cheers!

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  6. Your blog is very interesting!! I will be moving to Leeds from the States to begin my studies in Japanese and World Cinemas and am so pleased I found this! I began my studies through my university in the States but love learning on my own as well. I saw that you use anime and movies as a tool and thought you might enjoy watching Japanese dramas as well! Dramas use more modern language grammar and the vocabulary is what you’d hear day-to-day in Japan. Good Luck in your continued studies!! がんばって!

    • Hi, thanks for your comment! If you’re like me, you may struggle with the weather here. Hopefully you will arrive when the days are still long.

      I haven’t had much experience with j-dramas, but when I have a better Internet connection I will try to get hold of some. Best of luck with your studies!

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