Hello friends, I am currently using Tobira for N3 level, but for N2-N1 I have seen many resources recommended everywhere. The one that caught my eye the most was a JLPT series called TRY! which has books for N5-N1. I was wondering if anyone has used it, what they think of it, or if maybe you would recommend something else like Shin Kanzen Master or Sou Matome. Thank you
Also can I add that i’ve also seen two other books called New Authentic Japanese and Rapid Reading Japanese recommended for this level. Can anyone vouch for their quality over the others I mentioned? Thanks!
I’m currently only studying for N3 but these resources seem to be at least somewhat consistent (I already bought the Try and Sou Matome N2 and superficially, they look like the N3 books) so I’ll comment anyway:
Shin Kanzen is usually recommended as the best resource because it is supposed to be most thorough. However, when I had a look at it I could just not see myself studying with these books. They reminded me too much of another grammar book that was (supposedly) really good but that I opened my two times and the rest was just talking it through with my teacher. I know that if I were to buy this series, I would hardly use it.
I also have AIATIJ and Tobira but I decided to buy Sou Matome and Try! N3 anyway – if you can’t tell, I enjoy going through books superficially instead of doing exercises
I like Sou Matome as what it is supposed to be: a summary. It combines similar grammar points very well and gives you a good structure of what you should work through. It is however in no way sufficient if you were using this as your only source of study and without a teacher. It is nice, light and I enjoy skimming through it as a reminder of stuff I studied in the last weeks. But I could definitely not recommend it for self study as the only resource.
Try! to me is a decent compromise: not as dry and scary as Shin Kanzen Master but with a bit more details and example sentences than Sou Matome.
I think this will very much depend on your own preferences - there are plenty of people who enjoyed Shin Kanzen Master. I was originally planning on buying them for this reason but when looking at the books, I realized that they are not for me. Do you have any chance of looking at the books for yourself in a bookstore? Or maybe there is an online preview somewhere (legend has it that on the internet, it is possible to find lots of “previews”).
And also, I think the grammar book is sufficient. I like the Sou Matome format so I decided to also buy the kanji, vocab and listening books. They are really nice books but I feel like my time and focus might be better spent on consuming real content.
I’m also interested in New Authentic Japanese and am considering buying it next winter when I’m back in Japan. But I have no experience with it yet.
Thank you, I agree with everything you said, based off the stuff i’ve read. I heard that shin kanzen is a bit (too?) tough and apparently doesn’t have english definitions for vocab, while sou matome apparently was a bit lacking as you said. Also a worry for me was how those two are actually series of books, separated into 5? books for just the one JLPT level. Thats a main reason I was wondering about Try! Still I wonder about the 2 or 3 remaining books and how they would compare. Currently I am leaning towards Try.
With Try!, you are getting a tiny little bit of reading and listening but it is mostly a grammar book, so basically equivalent to getting the grammar books of the SM or SKM series. In my eyes, none of these are “real” books imo, like Genki, AIATIJ or Tobira which have quite a lot of content. They are more like… booklets? Exercise books? I lack the word to describe it.
In my opinion, especially at N2 level, one can get real world reading and listening exercises elsewhere so it is not really necessary to buy anything except for the grammar books (and I’m saying this as someone who bought all 5 SM N3 books). No need to get the entire series unless you feel like you need a little extra boost in one of the other areas (kanji, vocab, reading, listening).
Someone correct me if I am wrong but I think starting at N2, there is only Japanese in the SKM books. Which makes a lot of sense of course… but it’s just not for me. Studying grammar is hard enough as it is, I’m not going to fight my way through Japanese grammar explanations (at least not now; I understand that it will have to happen eventually).
If you want to get only one and are not into the SKM approach, I would also go for Try!. Personally, I will probably focus on working through Sou Matome N2 with my teacher and look up any grammar points where I need more details in the Try! book. And I might also be getting “New Authentic Japanese” because the reviews read promising and I would love to have one final text book before moving on into the “real” world, without a textbook holding my hand.
So as I understand, Try! doesn’t have a vocab list at all. I agree that at that level I would be also using native books to learn vocab, however I would feel better if there was a sort of pre made stepping stone like a vocab list in the book. As for new authentic japanese, would you say it is more of a book like tobira and the genki series? As in more of a full on textbook, and do you know if it has vocab lists too?
Ok so I have just re-read some reviews and I see that neither Try nor New Authentic Japanese have vocab lists. But is New Authentic Japanese even a N2 textbook? Considering I haven’t seen it actually specified towards N2. Would it be more complete or lacking compared to Try?
I read somewhere that there is an extra vocabulary booklet for NAJ but I haven’t seen it yet. You can see a few sample pages here: https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/switch-language/product/4789014622?ie=UTF8&language=en_JP
And here is a review but I didn’t see the vocabulary booklet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx2VZKQ_n0U
But if you are looking for a real textbook experience, more similar to Tobira then NAJ seems better suited for you than Try!. On the other hand… to me personally it looks scary, I just decided that I will probably not buy it this year.
Thank you for the links, I watched the review and saw it said there was a booklet, I will try to find more on that. I also saw the sample pages, it seems like a nice textbook. Currently I have no way of getting my hands on a copy of any of the mentioned books to see for myself but I will be traveling to the US soon and I might just be able to find them. I do think that if New Authentic Japanese actually does have a vocab booklet, this might just tip the scales in its favor for me.
Alright, I have found another source confirming that there actually is a vocab book.
From this reddit thread someone says in their comment:
“Also, the vocab book that comes with it does not have English translations, just readings. (No furigana in the book)”
Haha, yes, that sounds exactly like the same reddit thread where I read that too
I must admit that I’m intimidated by the lack of English. I know I’m supposed to make the jump eventually but I don’t feel ready yet and I doubt that I will feel ready after I’m done with all the N3 stuff.
I also was feeling intimidated, but I mean Tobira is also full Japanese other than the vocabulary and a bit of grammar… So I guess we will just have to make good (extensive) use of dictionaries
You are right… I was never scared of Tobira, probably just because there are grammar explanations in English. But I have to get over that eventually.
I might wait until next year at least before I buy it but eventually, I’ll probably go for it. If you buy it at some point then maybe let us know what you think of it
I will look for it and buy it when I travel in about 2 months from now. I will definitely let you know Also, it seems like it does have grammar explanations in english, although a bit vague and more deeply explained in Japanese. At least thats what the top amazon review says!
You are right, those amazon reviews are conflicting - I was thrown off by the “If only it had some English” one. The other sounds sound better and I hope I will feel confident enough to tackle it at some point next year.
I’ll be looking forward to your opinion on the book once you have it
I skimmed through the last comments due to time restraints, sorry if it’s been mentioned - just wanted to say that there are vocab lists for the try series you can access on their web site (ask. Com? If you have a book of theirs it is referenced in the beginning). In fact you can access all their audio content online without having to confirm ownership of all the books.
Sorry, got to go.
I would still recommend the SKM 読解 book. I agree that you can practice reading speed elsewhere, but I have had trouble finding dense texts like the ones in the book in the wild.
It also helps you get used to the format more (while using similar difficulty texts), which is really important since reading is such a long section.
Actually there is a book I have seen recommended for reading practice called Rapid Reading Japanese. It seems to be around upper intermediate level and not attached to the other series of books. Do you know if this would be better considering it is a standalone reading book? Of course I will be reading some LN’s and books for practice as well.
I’m also going through Tobira and Shin Kanzen master N3 to reach the N3 level. I personally would recommend Shin Kanzen Master (I already bought N2 and N1).
I think the books are very well structured and there are a lot of drills you’re able to go through, but the most important part is that you’re actually learning a bit more than needed for the JLPT tests, which completely ensures that you pass.
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