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Studying Japanese but don't know where to begin or how to improve your skills? This article introduces five suggested textbooks, workbooks, and study materials highly recommended for solo learners. Begin your learning journey at home!
Whether you are casually thinking about starting Japanese learning or want to review your language skills, studying by yourself is an option you can do in the comfort of your own home. Japanese is a challenging language to master by yourself, but the textbooks and study books below are ideal for beginners, covering conversation, grammar, reading, and listening skills, and are available for purchase online. All have been tested by Japanese language learners and are popular.
Continue reading below to learn what books and materials you need to get started in studying Japanese for use during a future trip, enjoying Japanese anime or comics, or just to improve your skills.
Ideal for travelers, "NIHONGO FUN & EASY Survival Japanese Conversation for Beginners" is a lightweight book that is a treasure trove of conversation practice and practical language skills. Even if you don't know any Japanese to begin with, the lessons and practice in this book will allow you to learn, memorize, and understand how to use basic phrases useful for a trip and everyday situations in Japan.
Learning the language for travel means your entire trip will go by smoother, from navigating from one destination to the next, to making friends with locals on your trip. This study book is a valuable tool to make your travel even more special.
See Details and Purchase: Amazon Japan, Amazon United States (Paperback only)
For those with a full schedule and less time to study, "Japanese for Busy People" is a series of beginner-friendly books that cover grammar and sentence structure, vocabulary, and practical conversation practice in a balanced, friendly manner. The books are available in two versions: romaji (the Romanized Japanese alphabet) and kana (Hiragana and Katakana, two phonetic alphabets), so readers can choose the one they are most comfortable with.
The texts are structured into different units dealing with practical themes and professional settings. The scenarios presented in the textbook are suitable for professionals, but students in high school or in college can also benefit, of course.
An audio CD is included with the book, as well as an answer key to the practice questions, making this the ideal book for self-study. Continue studying regularly and practice your conversation skills
See Details and Purchase: Amazon Japan, Amazon United States (Romaji version, paperback only)
The first step to reading Japanese is learning the alphabet. There are two phonetic alphabets in Japanese: Hiragana and Katakana. This highly-evaluated workbook and practice sheet set is a valuable tool to study each character, how to pronounce it like a native speaker, and the proper method and order to write it. Use the practice sheets and spaces in the texts provided to build your writing skills.
The worksheets and study book are ideal for self-study and people just beginning to learn the language. Audio files are also included for use for those who buy the book. Results vary by study method, but you can expect to gain a deeper understanding of
See Details and Purchase: Amazon Japan, Amazon United States (Kindle and paperback)
A favorite of many beginning Japanese classes outside of Japan is "GENKI: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I." A comprehensive but learner-friendly textbook, the book contains entertaining stories and illustrations throughout, while providing materials on grammar, vocabulary, and conversation suitable even for those studying alone. It covers around level N5 for those planning on taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Make sure you can read and understand Hiragana and Katakana before starting.
There are workbooks and two other GENKI beginner-intermediate level textbooks for those who finish the first book. It is a well-known and highly-regarded series of textbooks among students and teachers, but also suitable for solo learners with dedication. Please note that the answer key for the practice problem scenarios is sold separately.
See Details and Purchase: Amazon Japan, Amazon United States (Paperback and Kindle, depending on the store)
For learners who want to master the basics of Japanese, passing the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) is a recommended, easily-recognizable way in and outside of Japan to record your achievement. The "Japanese So-matome" is a series of study books that provide a learner-friendly method of studying for this standardized exam. Available in levels N5 (beginning Japanese) to N1(advanced Japanese), these textbooks are divided by content and level. The N5 book is a comprehensive study method with grammar, vocabulary, Kanji, and reading that will help individual test-takers prepare to pass the test.
What makes this series of texts so ideal is that they all contain adorable illustrations along with the practice problems, making studying fun and efficient. Follow along with the lessons and practice regularly for the best results.
See Details and Purchase: Amazon Japan, Amazon United States (Paperback and Kindle)
Studying something by yourself, especially a language can be very challenging. However, it is possible with hard work and dedication. MATCHA has numerous articles on basic Japanese pronunciation and basic grammar and phrases with accompanying audio files to get started.
Those interested in practicing Japanese in a practical way can use the Easy Japanese version of MATCHA, which contains Hiragana and Katakana readings above Kanji characters, and simple sentences ideal for language learners.
See more: MATCHA Easy Japanese