My first Japanese textbook from way back when…


I was wondering where to start with getting back on track with Japanese; instead of being a hero and starting with challenging texts, I thought it might be fun *and useful* to skim through some of the things I remember studying to get back in the swing of things.

I actually have a very clear memory of the very first thing that my teacher said to us: “Learning Japanese is not difficult; it will just be a little challenging for your spirit, and you’ll need to work hard!”.

True to her promise she didn’t let us off easy– it was a challenging but fun class.  I was in the intensive version of this class, so it was the equivalent of doing a year-long 6 unit course in a single semester: we had 10 hours of class time every week, mandated practice time in the language lab (they gave us a *punch card* so we could punch in and out of the lab), as well as in-person lab time with a TA.   The pace of quizzes, vocabulary tests and unit tests was relentless and kept us on our toes!  The next course followed the same pattern so we essentially finished all four volumes of this series over an academic year.  Class was 8-10am, Monday to Friday.

My first textbook

I now work at the university where I originally studied Japanese– as it happens, our library is quite good, so I was delighted, but not really surprised that I could still borrow a set of these textbooks that we used in class over 20 years ago!

Looking at them now, it looks like we were studying the 1984 edition of a book originally published in 1967 by the University of Hawaii Press.   It’s a great series that is really timeless— I’m sure there are some wonderful *new* textbooks around these days, but the content and accompanying practice drills offer any beginner an efficient introduction to Japanese.

I didn’t use a whiteboard back then, but I do remember how much we had to practice practice practice, both speaking (working with tapes in the lab) and read-re-reading the dialogues again and again until it felt a step closer to natural.

Anyway, for old time’s sake, the video above is my rendition of chapter 7.  Back in the day, I used to entertain myself with different voices when I practiced dialogues, but I just played it straight this time:)

2 thoughts on “My first Japanese textbook from way back when…

  1. Pingback: Old tunes and textbooks…ナウくない 音楽や大学の教科書 | Wordsummit

  2. Pingback: Bruce Lee on the ‘hard part’ of language learning | Wordsummit

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