Basic Japanese

Building Up Conversation

The aim of Building Up Conversation is to help learners acquire Japanese language skills by listening, using many Audio Drills.
It should be noted, however, that listening to audio materials in a random fashion will never lead to good progress. It is important to build up much frequently used sentence patterns and expressions in a structural and effective manner.

Learning points

Building Up Conversation covers from the basic level to the lower intermediate level and within this range, much frequently used sentences and expressions are carefully selected and compiled. There are some 150 main points to learn and these learning points are carefully arranged from Level 1 to Level 3. It is designed so that as you progress from section to section, new learning points overlap with the previously-learnt points to provide reinforcement, ensuring steady progress towards higher levels of conversation skills. It is just like building a house by putting bricks together.

Level 1 contains two parts

Part 1 : Building Up Conversation (Chapter 1 to 13)

Part 2 : TopicShot (Chapter 14 to 20)

In Part 2, we focused on the daily scenes such as buying train tickets, Japanese inn, etc.
Many useful set phrases and model dialogues are provided.

Structure of the chapters

Building Up Conversation consists of 3 levels.
Each chapter of Level 1 (Part 1) consists of 5 sections and each chapter of Level 2 and Level 3 consists of 4 sections.

Level Sections in the Each Chapter
Level 1 Objectives Opening Dialogues Grammar Notes Audio Drills Quizzes
Level 2   Opening Dialogues Grammar Notes Audio Drills Quizzes
Level 3   Opening Dialogues Grammar Notes Audio Drills Quizzes

Step 1 : Objectives & Opening Dialogues

The first section of Level 1 (Part 1) provides Objectives.
This is to take care of those who are new to Japanese language learning. Each chapter provides example sentences, using certain learning points. For Level 1 learning, please read the example sentences first and make sure that you understand the learning points incorporated in the sentences. The example sentences are all provided with English translation and voice support. Check the meaning of each example sentence in English and check the pronunciation and intonation by listening to the sentence several times.
Now, let's move on to Opening Dialogues.

For Level 2 and Level 3 learning, please start with Opening Dialogues in each chapter.
Opening Dialogues help you learn certain learning points through conversations in particular contexts. First, read a conversation in Japanese and then check the meaning in English.
Next, listen to the conversation several times and practise it aloud.

Step 2 : Grammar Notes

Once you have checked the learning points, please read Grammar Notes to ensure sound understanding.
The contents introduced here are the minimum knowledge you should have and it is a must that you read this grammar section before you proceed to Audio Drills.

Step 3 : Audio Drills

Each chapter contains many Audio Drills.
Each drill is introduced with Key Sentences. Key Sentences include sentence patterns and expressions which are the main focuses for practice in the drill.
Each drill also is accompanied by voice support and English translation. You read an example sentence, check its meaning in English and listen to the sentence.
If you are not sure what the sentence means, you can always revisit Grammar Notes. Grammar Notes should explain and clarify all the sentences and expressions that are used in the drills.
Once everything has become clear to you, let's start practising!

Here is an example.

First, check the vocabulary given.
On the actual webpage, you'll see a vocabulary list displayed on the right side of the screen.
Next, see if you can read the sentences.
Using the given vocabulary, create a conversation similar to the example.
Now listen to the example conversation. Listen to it several times.

Next, practise using the vocabulary listed below the example conversation.

On this occasion, 3 vocabulary sets are provided as shown on the right.
First, check vocabulary 1 with reference to the vocabulary list.
Create a conversation, just like the example, using vocabulary 1. You may find it difficult to start with but don't worry.
Click [Check] and the correct conversation will be displayed.
Read the correct conversation and then, listen to it several times.

ex.kyoo / kaimonoAudio
1-ji goro
A:Kyoo doko ni ikimasu ka?
B:Kaimono ni ikimasu.
A:Nan-ji goro ikimasu ka?
B:1-ji goro ikimasu.
A:Ashita doko ni ikimasu ka?
B:Byooin ni ikimasu.
A:Nan-ji goro ikimasu ka?
B:9-ji goro ikimasu.
A:Do-yoobi doko ni ikimasu ka?
B:Tomodachi no uchi ni ikimasu.
A:Nan-ji goro ikimasu ka?
B:5-ji goro ikimasu.
A:Nichi-yoobi doko ni ikimasu ka?
B:Akihabara ni ikimasu.
A:Nan-ji goro ikimasu ka?
B:10-ji goro ikimasu.
1.ashita / byooin
9-ji goro / tomodachi no uchi
5-ji goro
3.nichi-yoobi / Akihabara
10-ji goro

English translation

Opening Dialogues, Grammar Notes, and Key Sentences come with English translation.
Only Audio Drills is not provided with English translation.
This is to stop you from relying too much on English translation, otherwise it will hinder your progress.
The habit of "reading in Japanese and immediately checking in English" hinders the ability to understand in Japanese without the help of English translation.
Once you have developed this habit, your Japanese will not improve no matter how many years you may learn the language.
You must not get in to the habit of "thinking in English and translating into Japanese".
You must endeavour on a daily basis to "think in Japanese and directly transfer into sentences".
It would be worrisome to start with but you'll soon get the hang of it. You will be surprised how quickly your Japanese improves.

Step 4 : Quizzes

Once you have done enough practice with Audio Drills, please proceed to Quizs.
The aim here is to ensure that you have mastered the learning points of each chapter. Every time you have the answer wrong, go back to the relevant Grammar Note and check the correct answer.
There are many different types of quizzes but they are all of a multiple-choice type, as shown below. It doesn't matter if you cannot use your keyboard for entering Japanese characters.

1. Susan : Tanaka-san wa ryokoo ga suki desu ka?
Tanaka : Ee, suki desu.
Susan : Yoku ryokoo o shimasu ka?
Tanaka : Iie, saikin amari shimasen.
Susan :   desu ka?
Tanaka : Isogashii desu   .

Taking the above quiz as an example, first read the conversation and see if you understand it.

Same as Audio Drills, English translation is not provided here. You may find it a little puzzling to start with but don't worry. Pick the parts you understand from the conversation and the rest can be a bit of a guessing game.
As mentioned before, it is very important that you make a continuous effort to understand in Japanese without the help of English translation.
Incidentally, the meanings of the words used in Quizzes are all shown in the vocabulary list.

Choose the answer that you think is correct and click [Check].

If the answer you chose is correct, you will see [OK], otherwise [X] will be displayed for the wrong choice. If you have absolutely no idea, click [Cheating] to see the correct answer.

Writing - Romaji, Kana and Kanji

Japanese writing involves three different kinds of scripts; Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are collectively called Kana.
There is also so-called Romaji which adopts Roman letters to make Japanese reading Westerner-friendly.
Basic Japanese Building Up Conversation provides the contents in three versions using Romaji, Kana and Kanji. You can switch over between the versions by simply clicking the icons.

Romaji & Kana

Romaji was developed to make Japanese reading Westerner-friendly. It is not a true Japanese script. You are encouraged to master Kana as soon as possible so that you can start learning Japanese using the Kana version.
CosCom offers an abundance of free materials on its website to help you lean Hiragana and Katakana. Why not use them?

You must remember though that mastering Kana does take time, so, don't go thinking that you cannot start learning conversation skills until you master Kana. You can always start learning conversation skills with the Romaji version while you continue with Kana learning.


The Kanji version is geared for intermediate-level learners who have been learning Kanji for some time. It is not suitable for those who are new to Kanji learning.
For those who wish to start learning Kanji, CosCom recommends that you use one of its publications, 2001.Kanji.Odyssey.


Copyright (C)CosCom Language Service, Inc.All Rights Reserved.