I’ve written a review of the Nihongo Sou Matome series of books for the JLPT. This series promises to help you become better prepared for the JLPT. Does it? I’ve been through many of the books for different levels and I can tell you which ones are worth your time.
What is Nihongo Sou Matome?
Nihongo Sou Matome is a series of books that each focus on a different aspect of Japanese study. Reading, Grammar, Vocabulary, Kanji, and Listening. There are different levels available that match the levels of the JLPT. N5 through N1.
Should I use the Nihongo Sou Matome books?
If you’re just getting started studying for the JLPT, then I do recommend trying this series to help you become familiar with the material you will see on the test. Even though the animal covers are very identifiable and cute, you don’t have to collect them all! In fact, it’s better if you don’t get them all because you might have a hard time focusing on so many books. Choose 1 or 2 and make an effort to study them every day.
Nihongo Sou Matome Reading
All levels can appreciate the reading books. I find them to be full of useful formats and vocabulary similar to the real JLPT. Advanced users will probably want to start looking at the “Kanzen Master” series of books when it comes to reading comprehension.
Nihongo Sou Matome Grammar
I cannot really recommend the grammar books of this series because the translations of example sentences and explanations are really poor in English sometimes. I think N5 or N4 levels could be all right with these books, but definitely, choose a different grammar book for N3 and above.
Nihongo Sou Matome Vocabulary
For the earlier JLPT levels, the vocabulary books are really well laid out with different themes in each section. I enjoyed going through these when I did N3 and N4. When you get to N1 level, I think the book ends up being just a big vocabulary list and very dry, so I can’t recommend the vocabulary book for the higher levels.
Nihongo Sou Matome Kanji
For beginners, I think the kanji book is good for practice, but I think you can get more practice by learning words that use kanji in context from learning vocabulary or reading. I didn’t see much of a need for this particular book.
Nihongo Sou Matome Listening
The listening books are really nice regardless of level. I highly recommend them for becoming familiar with the patterns used in the listening test. Even if you have confidence in your listening ability doesn’t mean you’ll be ready for the tricky questions that will be thrown at you. Get this one.
My recommended books for each level
For beginners (N5-N3)
The books that will help beginners the most are the Reading, Vocabulary, and Listening books. If you’re on a budget, look at a sample online or in a bookstore. I think it’s better to have one book for reading (vocabulary OR reading) and one for listening.
For Intermediate to Advanced (N2-N1)
The only book I recommend for higher level learners from Nihongo Sou Matome is the listening. At this stage, you need all the reading practice you can get. Studying only vocabulary will not be enough to help you get through tough reading passages. I would recommend looking into a different book series such as “Kanzen Master” or “Try!” for help with grammar and reading comprehension.
Sounds great, where can I buy them?
You can buy Nihongo Sou Matome books from the White Rabbit Press store. I’ve purchased flashcards and reading books from them in the past, so rest assured that they are a decent online store. They also have worldwide shipping, which is nice.
Have you used the Nihongo Sou Matome books before? Did they work for you? Let me know in the comments!