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Japanese Workbook

Since my return from Japan, I've taken Japanese language classes at Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) from Kiyo Okazaki whenever my schedule has permitted. Rather than working on assignments that are more appropriate for those who've never used Japanese as a primary means of communication, I produced materials that could be used by those studying Japanese.

For a couple semesters, Kiyo and I stuck to simple handouts and such. For Spring of 2003, we took on a project that was significantly more ambitious. We decided to coauthor a workbook for use in her Japanese 50A class (Introduction to Japanese).

Initially, Kiyo provided me with a binder full of notes and printouts. My role was twofold: 1) Perform those book building and editorial tasks necessary to create a workbook and 2) Include information that an adult learner of Japanese would find helpful.

The first task was not too difficult for I'm a technical writer by trade and manage a team that publishes 10,000 pages of technical documentation per year. I used Adobe FrameMaker as the authoring tool for this project because its Japanese text processing capabilities are far beyond those of other tools available outside of Japan. After looking over the materials that Kiyo had provided, I created a template with English and Japanese paragraph tags and a FrameMaker book.

With a rough outline in place, I essentially started at the beginning of the book and worked my way, chapter-by-chapter to the end. About once a month I'd provide Kiyo with a draft to preview. I choose to publish to PDF for such allowed me to provide Kiyo with a file that could be printed from any of the computers she might want to use.

The second task was a bit trickier. As someone who had to learn Japanese rather late in life (let's just say any foreign/second language acquisition after age five is late in life) I was aware of the troubles most can, should, and do encounter. I tried to provide a mix of cultural notes, usage tips, learning strategies and tricks that anthropologists use in the field.

Although the workbook was designed for use in Mrs. Okazaki's class, other beginning students of Japanese might find the contents useful. Therefore I've decided to made the PDF version of the Fall 2003 version of the Japanese 50A workbook available for downloaded from this site.


Santa Rosa Junior College
Instructor: Kiyo Okazaki
Conversation for Beginners
Description: Beginning oral communication course designed to improve listening & speaking skills needed for survival at school, on the job & in the community. Participate in a variety of pronunciation, listening & conversational activities to improve their oral/aural competency. (Credit course for grade or CR/NC)