Usually, I show photos of books I recommend.  But this book today, I don’t really recommend it.  It’s not horrible, it’s just that it is too easy for my son.

I was very happy with the TOEFL Primary Test Mondaishu book, which I found in the bookstore.  It’s definitely on the easy side, but it’s bright and fun.  Enjoyable.

So I thought, if a Japanese-made textbook is good, then won’t an American-made textbook be even better?  (No.)

I found the Barron’s TOEIC Bridge Test on the Internet, but there was no See Inside Feature, and I googled, but could not see inside.  So I just guessed it was probably okay, and bought it.  A mistake!

So let’s go through it together.


Cover page.  Looks serious.  A little too serious.  A little boring.  Smile, buddy.  It’s just English.


First page.  All words that are easy for my son.  Gosh darn it.  For a younger child (or less advanced child) it might be appropriate, but then you run into the problem that this is BORING.


I like this.  My son doesn’t get American English class, so it’s “Parts of Speech” section is useful to me.


Good grammar…except too easy for my son.


Too easy.   For kids growing up bilingual, I think this just is stuff they learn naturally.


This I like.  My son can always use more reading practice.  The EIKEN Pre One reading passages are very difficult and businesslike.  My son has a really hard time getting motivated and focussing.


Again I like this.  Very natural English.  The setup is boring though.  Obviously their target student is a twenty year old boring person, instead of a thirteen year old fun and exciting boy (and his craaaaaaazy mom.)

This “Boringness” is a problem I have frequently.  Once you get past kiddy kiddy stuff, the textbooks get very bland.  No color.  No illustrations.  Just because you are studying, doesn’t mean you want everything dull!  dull! dull!

This is one reason I prefer Somatome Japanese materials over Kanzen Master.  Kanzen Master is considered “better” but I have yet to get through one of their stupid textbooks.  They are so incredibly boring.  Somatome has lively illustrations, and Japanese phrases that I want to learn. (Like how to use a remote control.)

So basically, you can see what the Barron’s is like and decide for yourself.