A gentle, thorough and well done introduction to an unfamiliar language Despite having studied a variety of languages from around the world, Japanese always seemed the strangest, as if it was from another planet If I was going to learn Japanese, I felt I would need something much like this course, which takes you step by step through the basics The Components Four CDs and a nicely printed paperback textbook come fitted inside a compact case that is easy to carry with you Even easier is to use the free mp3 download of the audio and take just the book along The book itself avoids the dumbed down look of modern language courses, avoiding silly cartoons and distracting illustrations.The Method The audio drives this course A narrator talks you through the lessons, right along with the textbook Usually I don t like this approach as you lose the flexibility to use the materials in ways that suit your learning preference In the case of Japanese, I am not objecting as this method as I lack confidence in the language.The Lesson Structure The book is divided into 14 lessons each with several sub sections You listen to dialogs, answer questions based on the dialogs, read the simple grammar section, and do further activities There are tests, cultural notes and a few reviews throughout the book I would have preferred a grammatical approach rather than a thematic one, but I suppose this makes the course less intimidating to people.And the RestThere is an answer key, a short grammar section and a vocabulary list in the back The course seems to teach about 800 words, which is OK for beginner level Something I really like is that the authors have collected a series of helpful hints for self learners and interspersed then throughout the book, reminding you of what you should be doing to make the most of your study.Altogether, a well done course It is well made, put together with care, and will take you gently and easily through the basics of Japanese As I have no prior experience in Japanese, I can t say how far this takes you, or what you will need to do after this, though I imagine if you are than a tourist and want to begin a serious study of the language, you will need materials This a great start for a great price I recommend this for people who are planning a trip to Japan or want an easy introduction to Japanese before going on to advanced material. It s okay gets you the essential phrases to get around I had higher expectations for it being from Oxford Oxford Take Off in Japanese makes learning or brushing up on your Japanese quick, easy, and fun Follow an integrated course including activities and dialogues with native speakers so you can feel confident in day to day conversation Advance from beginner to intermediate level in one integrated book and audio course This complete language learning kit contains everything you need to speak and understand Japanese, and gives you flexibility when learning The pack includes a clear, easy to use coursebook, full mp audio to download, andCDs to support you in learning a new language Flexible and structured course units allow you to work at your own pace and check your progress with regular self testing exercises New, market tested packaging provides a portable and compact complete language learning course Ich habe vor etwas ber drei Jahren mit Japanisch angefangen und dabei einige Methoden ausprobiert, z.B Systeme wiePimsleur Michel Thomas , B cher wieKana Magicoder auch Online Systeme wie Lang 8 oder Japanesepod101 Am besten haben mir dabei immer die Sachen gefallen, bei denen man B cher und H rmaterial bekommt, weil dabei das H rverst ndnis und die Aussprache viel besser gef rdert werden als bei Lernen nach B chern Leider sind diese Systeme meistens nicht billig etwa Rosetta Stone , sodass ich einfach neugierig wurde, als ich auf dieses Werk stiess.Das Vorgehen l uft hier so, dass es eine Geschichte um Leute bei allt glichen Verrichtungen in Japan gestrickt wird in der Bar, im Cafe, beim Picknick etc Durch eine fortlaufende Geschichte wird das Interesse hochgehalten, den sonst oft typischen Stil des Lernens nach B chern fand ich hier nicht Im Buch selbst wird brigens fast ausschliesslich Romaji benutzt Die Vermeidung von Kana und Kanji ist Geschmackssache, letztlich aber wahrscheinlich der Fokussierung auf Einsteiger geschuldet.F r solche Neueinsteiger ist es gedacht, wer wie ich ein paar Jahre Japanisch und entsprechende Grundkenntnisse hat, muss schon zum letzten Viertel des Buches gehen, um noch etwas Neues zu entdecken Dazwischen muss jeder selbst wissen, wie oft ein Kapitel zu wiederholen ist, bis alles sitzt Dazu werden im Buch und auf der CD kurze bungen zur Wiederholung angeboten Weil alles in kleinen H ppchen serviert wird, dauert das normalerweise nicht sehr lange, und bietet regelm ssige Erfolgsgef hle, was meiner Meinung nach die Motivation hochh lt.So hnlich wie bei Michel Thomas hat man am Ende bei Oxford Japanese nicht allzu viele Vokabeln gelernt Jedoch kann man die richtig aussprechen, ein Basiswissen ber die Sprache und allt gliche, praxisnahe Konversation ist vorhanden und auch wichtig der Weg dahin war nicht sehr steinig Im Gegensatz zu Pimsleur ist hier das Zusammenspiel zwischen Buch und CD wichtig f r den Lernerfolg, denn Erkl rungen gibt es auf der Tonspur keine Dadurch ist das Lernen unterwegs z.B im Zug mit Buch eine Option, im Auto als Fahrer dagegen eher nicht.Fazit f r den Preis von weniger als 20 bekommt man kaum etwas Besseres in Bezug auf das Erlernen von gesprochenem Japanisch H chsten der Grundkurs von Michel Thomas kann da noch mithalten Voraussetzungen sind lediglich englische Grundkenntnisse, keine oder geringe Vorkenntnisse in Japanisch und etwas Lernbereitschaft. Take Off in Japanese is a combination book CD MP3 course that seems clearly focused on basic speaking and listening The topics start right away with greetings and comments on the weather which sounds trite, but is in fact a useful and common conversation starter in Japanese We are introduced to a few characters who will be our companions throughout Within minutes we re at the coffeeshop, learning how to say I ll have a coffee tea whatever , please and all the little set phrases that go along with that Here you are, Excuse me, Really etc Next we go to a local bar, and then we learn to tell time, and armed with that information, we ask for opening and closing times for the gym, the pool, the restaurant, and so on Money and shopping come next then asking and understanding directions, getting around, and so forth.The teaching style is quite interactive for a book audio combo The narrator with a plummy British accent frames the lesson, we listen to a dialog, and she asks a question or two What time of day is it What did they buy Then a few new phrases are explained, and bits of the dialog are repeated We may be directed back to the book to do an exercise but not your typical textbook exercise These are teeny tiny exercises for instance, you might be given a list of four events from the dialog and asked to put them in the order they happened Or you might be asked to answer a few true false questions about what you heard, or to use the phrases to describe something you own There s lots of back and forth between the book and the audio, which means that it can t really be done while driving However, the activities are so bite sized that you can pick it up and do a bit whenever you have a spare minute or two, and if you take the train or bus to work, you re definitely going to like it The course comes with a code to use to download MP3 files for your iPod or other player Each one runs just a few minutes long.Oxford Press have obviously tried hard to avoid textbooky dialogue In that little bar in lesson 1, for example, the gruff but friendly owner is nonplussed when a stranger comes in and hesitantly orders first a cola, then a juice Juusu Juusu desu ka Juice You want juice The unfortunate stranger finally figures out that a beer is what he wants, and the owner bustles off to fetch it while the two female regulars, one feels certain, nod in approval Later on, Iito san the bar owner hosts a picnic, where everyone drinks too much and falls asleep The day after the picnic, one of the ladies wrecks her bicycle And so on It s a pleasant change from The boy is running, the boy is eating, the dog is running On the down side, the new vocabulary and grammar points go by pretty quickly There s little repetition built in, which sounds like a plus but really means that you have to either be a quick study, or repeat the lessons yourself until you ve got it Pimsleur, by contrast, has you repeating the same phrases over and over, building in new material lesson by lesson but returning to the basics again and again You ll find the TOIJ dialog much less boring, but harder I think to remember.There is very little kanji or kana almost the entire book is in romaji Japanese syllables spelled out in Roman characters This will make it anathema to many students, but for the focus of this package, which again is clearly speaking and listening, I don t see that as a fatal flaw A half hearted effort has been made to include a few katakana for foreign loanwords like koohii, coffee, and sooda, soda and enough kanji to get you to the proper toilet, but that s about it You definitely won t learn to read any Japanese from TOIJ, and for a visitor or traveller, that may be okay not everyone plans to be literate for a visit to a foreign country If literacy is your goal, a program likeRosetta Stone Version 3 Japanese Level 1, 2 would be in order but you ll spend a bundle compared to TOIJ, and even RS will not get you far in real life reading.For such a small package, however, TOIJ has packed in a lot of grammar points Here s an overview 1 Desu am is are , questions, polite requests, forms of thank you2 Numbers, telling time, wa, ja arimasen isn t aren t 3 More numbers, counters, no, arimasu there is are , polite shop language4 Arimasu imasu for location, ko so aso, ga5 More counters, particles of direction and transport, particles of time6 O , days of the week, verbs with shimasu, adverbs of frequency, i adjectives7 Do, verb forms for invitation, verb forms for suggestions8 Past tense verbs, dates, giving reasons, saying your age, toki the time when 9 Family members, ni indirect obj , na adjectives, colors oops, that s colours 10 Asking for translation, counters, past tense of adjectives11 te imasu is ing , negative questions, verbs for clothing12 Comparisons, making requests, superlatives13 Plain verb forms, I think , phrases of frequency, I can, giving advice14 Plain verbs past tense, Have you ever, joining sentences, verbs of giving and receivingWhen I first opened the small package, I thought it was a lightweight product, but clearly, completing this course will give you an adequate grasp of the language for a beginner I m not sure that there s enough review and repetition built in to ensure that you retain what you ve learned, but there s surely a lot of content for the money. This is a fun, interesting product for someone who needs to learn and use a bit of Japanese I can see it being great for a vacation or business trip.However, if you re serious about learning Japanese, this is not what you want, and frankly, it s not even a great place to start My problems with the program are philosophical, really, so you may want to take them with a grain of salt However, I ve spent a great deal of time perusing Japanese learning materials, and those that take the focus OFF Romaji Japanese rendered in Roman characters, those being what I m using right now to render English are the best for long term success and even short term Using and focusing on Romaji isn t good for your brain You simply need to first learn the Japanese syllabaries not as hard as it sounds at all , then learn the language using those.I know, a lot of this program is based around audio, but if you re a visual learner, you still need something to look at, and you don t want to be looking at Romaji I ve also found the Pimsleur programs to be pretty much unbeatable at teaching spoken language They re expensive, and focus ONLY on the spoken language, but they re worth it.Rosetta Stone might be fine for Western languages, but for learning something like Japanese, it s rotten.The wise will heed my words others will dismiss them as opinionated They are opinionated, but I speak from a lot of time spent in thought about these issues Whether you need spoken Japanese for the short or long term, you re best advised to use Pimsleur, and if you want written Japanese, you ll definitely want to take a serious course of study than this. I started teaching myself Japanese almost ten years ago, and have never had formal instruction Since then I ve been to Japan twice Mostly, I have tried to teach myself through books and attempting conversation with Japanese friends and family, and sometimes by watching Japanese animated series Through this I have picked up a very basic knowledge of Japanese I can say quite simple things, but nothing very sophisticated Since I will be traveling to Japan again the near future, I thought I would try to brush up on some conversational Japanese.When I got this course, I first looked through the book I was a bit disappointed at first, because I already knew most of what was there Those who have had 1 2 years of Japanese instruction will probably feel the same way I had to go to the last 20% of the book to find vocabulary that I had not encountered.However, once I popped in the CD s I started with the last one , I was pleasantly surprised The course is laid out in an intelligent way The vocabulary is for the most part very useful vocabulary that you will need to know to engage in basic conversational Japanese I listen to the CD in my car and have picked up some things.I do have some slight complaints, however If you are listening to the CD in the car, and don t have the book handy, it may be confusing, because the CD s are really provided as supplements to the book Also, some of the Japanese speakers on the CD do speak somewhat fast It was hard at times to pick out exactly what they were saying Again, having reference to the book would help a great deal here.Aesthetically both the book, the CD, and the packaging are very nice and appealing The design is intuitive and user friendly it invites you to learn.In conclusion, this book will be most useful for people with a very limited knowledge of Japanese or none at all For those with 1 2 years of experience or longer, like myself, but without formal training , you may find some use in it If you have than a very basic understanding than 1 year of formal education or training , I would not really recommend this product I don t think you will learn that much.Also, I think that someone could complete this course and still not really be able to engage in conversational Japanese except in a very limited manner The advantage of the course is that it is not overwhelming, and it is relatively fun The disadvantage is that you will not have a very strong vocabulary at the end of it But, it could be the perfect start before you move on to advanced courses. First off, I would like to say I do not give many 5 star reviews, but when it comes to a language learning program, there is really not an absolute best because the experiences one encounters differs from person to person That being said, I have attended a college course in Japanese, had a tutor, and tried out Pimsleur s and Rosetta s formats I would first like to add out of all these so far Pimsleurs was my favorite because it felt like 1 I was attending a private session in Japanese2 I could listen to recordings instead of using an interactive program3 I could pause and rewind4 I could put MP3 s of the recordings on my Ipod.Now it may sound like I m giving a review of Pimsleur s, but I m not, I am praising the features with which Take Off In has, and in most cases surpasses my already favorite program I really really like this Take Off In program, because it again, uses the recording method of teaching versus the interactive program like Rosetta Stone.This set comes with CD s, a nice booklet that has sections that ascend as you progress, and has activities and tests at the end so you can quiz yourself and see how you are doing And because this is a digital, private class like software program, you can repeat any sections that you feel you didn t do well in.Knowing a good bit of Japanese already I can tell you the way this program teaches you and what it teaches you is essential and necessary in teaching a language intelligibly and understandably It starts off with basic greetings and immediately puts you in situations where you are told to repeat what you should say at that moment, and because this is on the computer you can pause of course and see if you are indeed correct.Summing up what I like about it I really love the private digital classroom feel The teachers voice is of European English accent, which is pleasant The titles on the CD are categorized into sections and summaries just like a textbook Download able MP3 s on the web that you can throw on your MP3 player so you can listen while doing other things, and allow for portability The book allows you to quiz yourself and do fun activities so that you can really progress and shown your actual progress through quiz questions Easy to ready and understand method of teaching Very inexpensive versus other programs availableThank you for reading my review, and as I progress into this, I will add what I feel necessary. Arrived promptly, second hand but good condition Excellent tool for learning Japanese I use this paperback CD combination as my main means of study It is very well laid out, easy to follow and is illustrated with often humorous real life situations After using it for only ten minutes per day for a few weeks, I find myself confident and knowledgeable enough to be able to hold basic conversations with native Japanese speakers in every day situations.