Here are the answers to some questions from Steve:
What is the ISBN of the book you are using please?
The primary book that I use is Minna no Nihongo I Kaite Oboeru Bunkei Renshucho (Sentence Pattern Workbook I). The ISBN is 978-4-88319-171-0
Sometime next month I expect to move on to the second book. That ISBN is 978-4-88319-203-8.
Daft question….how do you work through the book if it is completely in Japanese?
The short answer is: sometimes with great frustration and difficulty!
Seriously, it isn’t a daft question at all. Here’s how it works. There are actually two accompanying books. There is the main textbook, which is also entirely in Japanese, and which I don’t use. It has grammar explanations, accompanying audio, example sentences and exercises. Here’s a link to a site that sells it. I didn’t buy that book and I don’t have the audio for it.
There is a second book which contains translations of the first book and grammar notes. I have this book and I use it a little bit, just for the grammar notes, brief though they are. Here’s an example:
Note that, even though the vocabulary is in Kanji, it has furigana so you can read it using the hiragana if you don’t know the Kanji. You definitely need to know the kana, but you can learn that very quickly.
I use memrise to learn the vocabulary for each chapter. It’s free, and someone has set up courses for Minna no Nihongo I and II.
The Kaite Oboeru book, which is the one I use all the time and the one I am referring to when I talk about homework, is essentially all in Japanese (every once in a while there is a little English), and sometimes I can’t quite figure out what the exercises are asking me to do, but mostly, by looking at the examples, I can. Also, of course, I have a tutor on Cafetalk that I meet with once a week, and she’ll answer any questions that I have as well as correcting any errors I make in my homework. If I were trying to do it without her help, it would be much harder.
Here’s a sample from the workbook from the same chapter as the page above:
Anyway, the trick is to take the grammar and use it to figure out how to do the exercises. Some fun, eh?
Minna no Nihongo is loved and hated in equal measure, I think. It’s a question of temperament and learning style. I would rather ferret stuff out on my own than have it all laid out in front of me neatly because I learn better that way. That’s the kind of person Minna no Nihongo really works for.
Well, this was probably a longer answer than you were looking for, but I hope it helped.