"I'm fine, thank you. And you?"
If you've even talked to a handful of Japanese people in English, you might have heard this awkward response. That's simply because this is how school textbooks teach it. For those who are now worried about what your own Japanese sounds like, Casual Nihongo would be a good book to pick up!
In second language learning, there's often a gap between what's taught in textbooks and classrooms and what it's actually like in conversation. To fill the gap, Casual Nihongo focuses on expressions that are actually used in real life. The book features topics like "さようなら is rarely used" or "へ vs に" along with a few dialogues that demonstrate the topics in situations like at college or out on a date. They also provide some open-ended exercises to come up with your own dialogues.
The creator is a native speaker of Japanese named Akkie, who runs the Japanese learning YouTube channel 三本塾.
Even though some of the content, such as the introduction of the book and the creator, has translations in English, Portuguese and Vietnamese, the main content is written in Japanese without translations. The book overall is designed for people who have passed JLPT N4 or have the equivalent proficiency to get most out of it, but the educational content is written in easy Japanese with furigana.
The creator is a native speaker of Japanese named Akkie, who runs the Japanese learning YouTube channel 三本塾. Unlike many nihongo sensei YouTubers out there, he has had actual experience of being professionally involved in Japanese education. Some of the topics have QR codes to his related videos on YouTube and you can enjoy them as supplemental materials. If you're interested, check out his YouTube channel! He simplifies concepts and explains in slow, easy-to-understand Japanese.
While we really enjoyed this book, we do wish there had been more discussion and/or audio resources for a few intonation-sensitive expressions that result in feminine or masculine nuances. Still, it is a good resource to check out, especially if you're self-taught using textbooks!