Phrase Books for Tiny Wins

A lot of people in the serious business of learning languages tend to totally bypass these small handy books. Most people place only tourist camera happy folks with these things in their hand. Despite the little pocket-size, they pack a punch.

I wouldn’t look to closely on their pronunciation guides (which are shaky and sometimes down right out wrong from time to time) however they have lots of extremely useful phrases/info to look at. These little books to me are a gold mine for real quick and dirty sentences. If you’re a sentence miner, then don’t go over looking this treasure trove!

Often times they’ll have romaji. But so long as you look past that you’ll be okay. I have a few Japanese ones myself, I made sure they had the following:

  • Complete sentences/fragments/lots of variety of sentences
  • Japanese script with English meaning
  • maps are a plus
  • little to no explanations (takes away from sentences)

While I could go through lists of phrase books, there are just too many to really cover them all, or even popular ones can be tricky. Best place to go is straight to your physical bookstore, as they will always have several in any language, or search through Amazon where you can few pages inside the book as well as reviews.

If Japanese is like a 7 course meal, then phrase books would be the appetizer. I don’t know about you, but I always like an appetizer. If you’re going to follow a method like AJATT, these little devils can be used during the multilingual sentence mining phase. If not, then these small parroting phrases are a great jump-start while you’re working on courses.

In the first method review I covered, the gentleman who wrote the book felt these things were awesome for little quick wins while you worked on much harder wins (like learning grammar). Tiny wins I feel can end up making your study time fun and exciting. Often times we get bogged down by complicated drawn out lessons, or simply feel like we’re not progressing much. Learning a quick phrase that generally can be used on a daily basis can be a refreshing boast for us.

Whether there is someone to ask for a glass of water or not doesn’t mean you cannot use the phrase. Pretend your cabinet requires you to ask for a glass of water before you can get it. Pretend that you will ask for directions to the bathroom before you can go! Doing things like this will help you get use to using those phrases, and that’s of course what matters, getting into the language on a daily basis.

Eventually the use of these little phrases will add to your overall understanding of the language too. You’ll later come to realize why you’re using those words specifically and why in that order, but for now, just pretend you’re a cute African Grey Parrot!


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