Japanese for Busy People is a popular series of textbooks that has been around for about 20 years now. There are three books in the series, each getting progressively harder. The books are broken up into units, which are then broken up into lessons on different pieces of grammar. Each lesson includes example dialogue between characters, along with audio examples and plenty of exercises and worksheets for students.
- Very accessible for beginners.
- Comes with audio lessons.
- Doesn’t teach either hiragana or katakana.
- Little explanation.
- Doesn’t cover more advanced topics such as kanji.
- Romaji version of the textbook.
As far as Japanese textbooks go, Japanese for Busy People is probably the quintessential textbook. Nothing fancy, new, or exciting here, just very simple Japanese lessons for beginners. If you’re a self-learner who loves using new technology to learn, or loves a more social learning environment, then Japanese for Busy People probably isn’t for you.
Unfortunately, the book lives up to its name, but with some sacrifices. It teaches you new grammar and vocabulary very quickly but with very little explanation, and then launches you into several practice exercises. This can be both good and bad; if you don’t understand Japanese for Busy People is very short explanations about grammar or sentence structure, then you’ll have a really difficult time doing the many exercises that make up the chapter.
Japanese for Busy People offers both kana and romaji versions of their textbooks. If you want to learn Japanese, buying a romaji version of the book would be terrible. Learning only through romaji gives you a very limited understanding of the language, and shuts you out completely from learning the rich written side of Japanese. I can understand why people might think learning Japanese through romaji might be faster and easier, but any serious student of Japanese should avoid romaji-only lessons at all costs.
All in all, there are much better traditional textbooks out there (such as Genki) which I would recommend over Japanese for Busy People.