Thoughts on the Genki books for self-learners?

I asked my grand parents for the first Genki text book for Christmas, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get it since it was one of the only things on my list. Even if I don't, I'll probably buy it myself later on. I've heard that it's not as good for self-learners. What do you think? Also, do you think there's anything I should know about it before I get it? Basically, just what are your thoughts on it?

December 13, 2018


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If you have a language partner, the practice exercises in Genki are much more useful. The book still has a lot of good material for a self-study learner, but you will find yourself skipping over a lot of the practice sections for obvious reasons. One nice thing about using Genki is it gives you a way to measure your progress through the language. Since Genki I and II are used in many Japanese classes to teach new learners, if you know what is taught in these books, you will have a decent idea of where you are in comparison to other students of Japanese.

Personally, I found Genki to be good, but not great, for self-study. It was well-organized and the explainations are clear. But it is definitely a textbook and very dry at times. I had a hard time getting myself to do any of the practice stuff because it felt too much like doing homework. You might have better luck. I can see why it is used in classrooms, but it is not my favorite resource for Japanese study.

My recommendation is the book "Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication: A Self-Study Course and Reference".

Much nicer book to just pickup and read. The exercises are designed for self-study and it is much less expensive. It is also smaller than Genki, so it is easier to bring with me when I'm traveling.

December 13, 2018

oooh thanks. I'll have to look into that.

I know a lot of people here say you will skip practice sections in Genki if you don't have a partner, but nothing says you have to. I don't have a study partner, so I write out all of the answers to the practice questions in pencil on the page. If it's a question & answer section, I write both the question and answer, and make things up to expand my vocabulary. I also mutter all of it out loud so I’m always speaking as I write. Writing also helps me learn the kanji better than websites where you’re always typing or clicking the answers.

Some discourage Genki as a self-teaching tool because the lessons aren’t bite-sized, so many people without a lot of self-discipline put it down after one or two chapters. I’ve found if I combine it with other things such as duolingo, wanikani, and listening to lessons on youtube, all of those things come together when I do the Genki lessons and the flow is much smoother. Remember your pace is up to you, so you can set it down and pick it back up a whole month later after studying elsewhere if you want. :)

Hope that helps!

Thank you. This helps a lot!

In my limited exposure to Genki, I found it a bit much (e.g., do you really have to teach me multiple uses of the て- form all at once?!) If you want additional resources, maybe more oriented towards communication, I recommend the Japan Foundation's Marugoto textbook series. They have been nicely adapted for online-learning.

(You have to register once but it is free. I really like them - I'm currently in the middle of the third book.)

Thanks! I'll defiantly look into that.

Do you usually receive expensive gifts for Christmas? If not, don't expect to get it. Genki is alright, but many practices need to be excluded if you don't have anyone to practice with.

Not usually. I sent them the link to the cheaper version where it doesn't come with the workbook though. Thank you :))

I know this isn't truly what you're asking, but if you're on your own learning you might want to consider Learn Japanese from Zero. I say this because the author also does Youtube videos that follow the same lesson plan as the books. You can buy the book, do the lesson, and then watch the Youtube video. IMHO it's a decent approximation of actually having a classroom when you combine the book with the videos. I asked for Genki for Xmas too, though, so maybe we'll find out together if they're good for our situations!

Yes, I have heard about Japanese from Zero. I may try it out sometime. And yes, I will let you know!

Maybe try a pdf sample first, before you actually buy. I always do that, before I purchase any books. Personally, I didn't really find it very helpful, as other people already said, it fits a more "classroom" environment. You can check out Tae Kim's Grammar Guide (you'll also find it online for free). Another good book is "A Dictionary of Grammar"( ), and they also have intermediate and advanced levels.

That's a good idea, thank you.

From what I've seen the Genki textbooks (at least for me) aren't the best textbook out there to use, especially when learning it on your own. I've found that some of the best textbooks for learning Japanese are the books gakoo seikatsu (for the very basics) and then the first and second kookoo seikatsu books which are used for senior high school students, as well as the Genki textbooks which I have just previously bought myself and have found to be very useful so far. There is also a book called Japanese Grammar: A Guide for Students by Debbie Corder which doesn't only provide you with grammar but also sort of breaks down everything like sentence patterns and such from what I have seen. These books however especially the kookoo seikatsu series I mentioned previously are on the pricy side (I believe for brand new ones they are generally about $60 for the first and $75 for the other two) so I suggest if you want to get textbooks and don't want to spend a lot of money to either borrow an unused one and photocopy pages to use or to find them for second hand - which you should be able to find on gumtree (if you have that in your country?), eBay or at a second hand school supplies book store. Also you could buy a Japanese dictionary such as kodanshas furigana dictionary to help you and to expand your vocabulary however I know from experience if doing so you shouldn't rely on this too much and always cross check to make sure the word your using is in the right term, format and meaning what you intend it to (which you can probably always check on here as usually someone will be able to help) Another textbook you can use which I personally have never used, however I have seen previews is Japanese from zero, which seems to be a good choice for those who are starting out learning Japanese (as the title suggests). I don't know if this is just a personal preference in terms of learning but compared to what I have seen of the layout and format of teaching of the Genki textbooks for me it is a little harder to learn to the best of abilities when using this compared to the others I have used as previously mentioned.. On another note I have also found it useful to use on occasion a youtube channel called the Japanese Podcast. If you want to purchase Genki however (as it is a good textbook but probably not the best especially given the price of both the textbooks and I believe workbooks?) I suggest you first find even a library copy or an online version that you can download for a cheaper price to see if this will help you, or to find an unused cheaper second hand book. Hopefully this is helpful somewhat and best of luck learning :)

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