Japanese for Busy People (and books 1, 2, and 3)

Who else has used Japanese for Busy People?

I’m talking about the kana version, of course, but I’m finding it to be a great self-study book as a complement to WK, and I’m able to follow it a bit better than Genki, which would be great in a classroom but I feel like 1/4~1/3 of that book is geared for outside instruction and group work. The lessons and activities in Japanese for Business ( :wink: ) People are nicely scaffolded so it’s easy to go step-by-step.

I do have a question, though… I’m still on book 1 and by looking at reviews online it seems that books 2 and 3 are not as strong as book 1? And there are mixed reviews of the 3rd editions? Does anyone here have any insight into that?

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Aye, I’ve got all three of them - used them as a side study aid while at uni.

I couldn’t really comment on the online reviews, but I admit I did find the practice questions got a bit tedious after a while.


I went through book 2 and most of 3…I do not like this book mainly because it uses very little kanji for vocab. Somehow they thought kanji will overwhelm the reader when actually it’s just a wall of hiragana which is actually more frustrating and less practical :thinking:.

The listening dialogue is descent and practical though some topics are too work-related. If you are JLPT-minded, the content skips around quite a bit IMO so I won’t recommend it for that.

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I’m still early-going, so I’m mainly trying to get the flow of reading Japanese sentences at the most basic level. So, the kana emphasis does not bother me yet. Does that continue in books 2 and 3?

Would you say that got tedious in book 2 or 3? I’m thinking about continuing the series into part of book 2 (maybe), just because some of that tedium (at least in the early parts of book 1) seem to be effective training… but I could see how the second and third books are less helpful…

Yes, it does. I think they are emphasizing immediate communication needs rather than reading though there are kanji readings (just a lot less). Hence, ‘busy people’ don’t have time for kanji :roll_eyes: If you are are kanji crushing with WK and want reinforcement, I wouldn’t recommend vol 2/3.


Ok, thanks for the info.

MY goal re: kanji reinforcement is to get to around Level 20 and focus more on reading then. For now, though, I just need the fundamentals of the structure/grammar and some help getting me speaking some sentences before I move to Japan (potentially in late Jan./early Feb.). For now, WK feels like enough + the phrasebooks and texts I’m using, because I’m getting vocabulary reinforcement in all of them, and because WK is making sure I am learning how to recognize and read the words (morphology), I’m able to wait. But… by around Level 20, according to WKstats, I should be able to begin spending more time on NHK Easy News, etc.


I forgot to add that at least the grammar it taught was practical for listening and speaking IMO (so not all bad). I will still go back to listen occasionally. I only used this series because a community class selected it and I wanted more conversation practice.

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I couldn’t really say. Book 3, probably - that’s where I’ve gotten stalled, if memory serves.

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Can’t say I liked them. So I didn’t get far.

I think if you have the CD, maybe it could help listening practice. The books just felt basic, repetitive (wait, I’m doing SRS :thinking: ), and didn’t motivate me to bother continuing.

I started out with Minna No Nihongo but found it overwhelming at first because it uses kanji right from the start. So my tutor and I switched to Japanese for Busy People Book 1, which was really good in helping me to feel more comfortable with kana and starting to understand sentence structure, but by the end I felt like I’d outgrown it a bit, especially without the kanji. We then went back to MNN Book 1 and picked it up from Chapter 12 (I’m on Chapter 21 now). I’ve really noticed how much more the exercises in MNN test your comprehension, compared with JFBP which pretty much feeds you the answers (certainly in Book 1, can’t comment on the later ones). Having covered the て-form in both, I’d also say that MNN’s grammar explanations were more comprehensive, which I prefer.


Thanks for that. I’ve definitely been intimidated by Minna No Nihongo… but perhaps I will feel better about it after I’ve gotten some good grounding and a stronger foundation.

FYI ~ This is what I mean by it being helpful and a good review / reinforcement of what I’m learning on WK. In Level 11 & 12, I’ve recently been introduced to the Kanji and hiragana for onsen, family, first floor, shinto shrine… and these three all appear in a naturalized conversational form in the unit… so it’s a nice coupling of listening, speaking, reading, and grammar. WaniKani by itself wouldn’t have me focus on that word for family, for example, but now it’s reinforced in my mind, I’m sure I’ll go back and recognize it better (house+tribe).

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