Fujii, N., & Sugawara, H. (2002). Aozora: Intermediate-advanced Japanese communication (2nd ed.). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‘i, National Foreign Language Resource Center.
Aozora: Intermediate-Advanced Japanese Communication develops intermediate students’ oral and written communicative skills and provides insights into Japanese society and culture. These materials encourage students to actively participate in a variety of authentic and intellectually stimulating activities including discussions of discourse and sociological aspects of the Japanese language. This updated second edition replaces three audio CDs with online access to MP3 files so that students can listen to and download three hours of natural language samples with examples of language use in multiple social contexts and useful functions and topics.
By DucksWTD on March 7, 2013
I used this textbook as an undergraduate before it was even a "book" at all -- just a bunch of packets handed out every few weeks. That was well over 10 years ago. Aozora was finally published as a textbook in 2003 or so, and it still makes a fundamental contribution to Japanese language pedagogy that few other texts can match. Most intermediate-advanced textbooks rely more on narrative passages than on dialogs, but the real core of Aozora is not the various short reading passages or "activities" sprinkled throughout the lesson units, but rather the many authentic dialogs, COMPLETE TRANSCRIPTIONS for which can be found in the back. In fact, there are nearly 50 pages worth of transcriptions! This is not common. Watching movies or listening to Japanese podcasts is fine, but the language learning benefits these activities confer are more limited than many students realize. After all, you probably don't have a written script on hand for your movie, so when a character says something that you just can't make out no matter how many times you rewind or repeat it, there's not much you can do other than ask a native speaker or a friend more fluent than you. Aozora brings these sort of "natural" conversations, with the little pauses, aizuchi, backtracking, confirming and repeating things -- in other words the way people really speak -- into the realm of the textbook.
But Aozora is not only about speaking/listening. The text is on par with any fourth-year level college textbook in its use of kanji, as well as in the sophistication of structural/grammatical patterns that appear in the dialogs. When I used it, it was in a course at the University of Oregon titled "fourth-year spoken Japanese," the focus of which was obviously on speaking and aural comprehension, but students' knowledge of kanji and grammar improved as well. Of course, it is NOT a replacement for grammatical reference works like Makino and Tsutsui's "Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar" and "Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar," but then no advanced textbook is. Grammar is not what Aozora was designed to teach (at Oregon, the more formal training in grammar happened in the "fourth-year written Japanese" course, which used different materials).
If you are studying for N1 or N2 of the JLPT, the dialogs in Aozora will be helpful (I took and passed N1 some years after graduating, and I used Aozora, along with some JLPT prep materials, to brush up on listening).
By John Robson "~*ai_tensei11*~"on February 19, 2011
This book is such an amazing book- better than most all Japanese Language Learning books that I have studied. This book requires in depth knowledge of the Japanese writing system. There is little English in the book, a kanji dictionary might not be a bad idea to have. The back of the book also includes the website to find all of the Audio files for the dialogs online. The dialogs are 100% native and it does not sound like the speakers are reading a dialog sheet at all. Very well worth the money. I often use this book to help my Japanese students learn.
If you are a Japanese teacher with intermediate-advanced Japanese students, i highly recommend this book. Or if you are a Japanese student yourself, I highly recommend this book. This book is NOT for beginners of 1-3 years of Japanese.
Found this listed on the web and ordered it figuring that at this price for book+ three CDs I shouldn't expect too much. I was wrong. It is a great book (I think) - anyway it is actually an enjoyable read, most of the conversations on the CD are lively and well acted - and the situations are interesting. The stress in the CDs is on informal language and includes all the funny noises, grunts and particles that would be edited out of a more conventional presentation. At last I found an educational CD that sounds like real Japanese. Ideally it should be used in a classroom (lots of group exercises), but I have used it for self-study and while not getting out of it as much as I presumably would have if I had been in a classroom, I found it very rewarding for listening and reading comprehension.
(CC) 2007 Noriko Fujii. Some rights reserved; click here for more information.