Intermediate Guide to Japanese plus… Kanzen or Sou Matome?

Hi all. I’m using the Integrated Guide to Intermediate Guide to Japanese plus workbook (I hate that there are no answer keys), but I’d also like to work through some supplemental material to make sure my bases are covered for N3 grammar.

What would you recommend—New Kanzen Master or Sou Matome? I can’t really afford to buy both but I’d love to know what your experiences are.

I should mention that I’m a self-learner.

i loved the nihongo challenge books for n4 so i was going to use those again but i have also been wandering about the options you suggested so i’ll be interested to see what ppl suggest. re answers, could you use one of the language sharing sites? cant remember the names of them currently sorry. i have my tutor mark mine once a month just to make sure i havent made any glaring errors., miss an answer key too but i like that it forces me to compose my own sentences.

I do have an italki teacher who helps me with the answers, but I wish there was something I could always refer to at any time. Super annoying when I’m in deep study mode!

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Having done both, given one option I would definitely suggest the Shin Kanzenmaster books. They’re more in depth and more “strict”, so to speak.

I also think every single one of them is good, being on WK you won’t really need the Kanji book, but the Vocab books are great, since they are often not mentioned as much as the others.

Shin Kanzen >>>>> Sou Matome. It’s sad, but true.

Both books have their strenghts, tho. I used Shin Kanzen for N4 and just today finished Sou Matome N3 Grammar (I have the full set of Shin Kanzen N3 too, will use those after).

Sou Matome has the advantage of pushing for VERY quick learning while giving you translations, but the explanations are weak and at times nonexistent. Also, while the quick pace is great, I don’t think anyone will ever pass N3 after just doing that book in the 6 weeks you’re meant to use it. It’s too fast, has too little (read: no) reviewing, and the explanations are weak.

I do like it, but I got it knowing all of this. I got it as a crash course on N3 grammar before diving deep with the reading comprehension/listening practice books and the Shin Kanzen ones. It did its job, but nobody should ever take the Sou Matome set as their main study set. I had to actually refer to the Shin Kanzen N3 grammar book several times to understand grammar points Sou matome refused to explain.

As for Shin Kanzen, well, it has its own pitfalls - mostly, you don’t get translations for anything other than the explanations. This makes some grammar points difficult to grasp - the passives in N4, for example, become a horrible challenge since the use of passive form in Japanese isn’t the same as in English, by which I mean Japanese has some passives that don’t exist in English at all. However, the explanations the book has are mostly complete, and I can only recall having had to refer to internet sources a few times while doing the N4 book. It offers many more exercises than sou-matome, takes much longer time, and seems more intent on getting you to learn properly.

Therefore, I recommend SKM over SM any day of the week, having used both books. If you can get and use both sets that’s great, but if you can only choose one don’t go for Sou-matome. It’s not good enough.

I’ll add, however, that I believe using a proper (non-JLPT) textbook to be the best idea. It’s quite difficult to remember the uses of each grammar point if you never get to use it in writing or think about how to say this or that,and that’s something non-JLPT books will give you. JLPT books only try to get you to figure out what the right answer from a lot is, while other text books (Minna or Genki the most used ones) will get you to write, and think, using each grammar point. Me, I do both Minna No Nihongo 2 and JLPT practice at the same time. I’m far behind on MInna, but it helps me still by making me review older N4 points and helping me learn it properly.

I also recommend 新完全マスター. In the back of the grammar books they include more in-depth information about certain grammar points. They reading comprehension book I bought included good advice to approach answering the questions. The vocabulary book I purchased contains a lot of good content, which they give you exercises to apply what you learned. After N3, all the books are entirely in Japanese, so if you need hand-holding, be aware that you get thrown in the deep end.

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Thanks, all! I’m definitely not afraid to be thrown into the deep end, especially considering I do have a teacher and friends I can ask for clarification if I need it. I’d rather learn things properly rather than be left wondering, if Sou Matome isn’t up to par. I think Kanzen Master combined with my proper Intermediate Japanese textbook should be a pretty solid plan for me.

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