Take Off in Japanese
Oxford University Press
This is a very good value language course consisting of 4 compact discs and a 240 page text book.
The structure of the course is 14 units. Each unit is made up of three teaching sections of 2 pages with grammer points, dialogs and exercises; a section about Japanese culture; and an episode from a soap opera set in a bar using the topics covered in the unit. Depending on the complexity of the topics covered and the amount of time you have, a unit should take about 1 or 2 weeks to cover.
The emphasis is on things a tourist might need. How to order; how to shop; take a taxi; directions; time; trains; etc. It certainly isn’t business or school orientated. The language is everyday. No watashi wa, ja phrasing rather than dewa, desu ne and desu yo phrasing and so on. (Of course what do I know? I’m just a beginner myself) The discs are well recorded natural sounding dialogs with light humour and a variety of voices. (much better than the Japanese for Busy People tapes that have the man with the most boring voice in the world narrating them). 4 star recommendation, the only drawback is that the text is in romaji which is a bit of a step back once you’ve learnt kana, but on the plus side you can start right away without any previous knowledge.