I’ve been studying Japanese for some time now, and feel like I’ve built up a good foundation vocabulary-wise, however I feel like I’m not using it well because I’m really lacking in grammar knowledge. I feel like I’m almost always repeating example sentences with some noun/adjective variations rather than having a good grasp of grammatical rules to make my own from scratch!
I’ve just gotten set up with the Genki 1 books, Japanese the Manga Way and A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, and I’m wondering if anyone would be happy to share here how they use these/any other resources to structure the way they learn grammar e.g. what order to study these rules/how to make the most out of multiple information sources?
This might be a good place to check for some recommendations:
Personally, I get really bored by Genki, so for a long time I’ve avoided it. I do plan to go back through it sometime to refresh myself on stuff, though.
And for a free resource that’s good, especially for getting used to grammar, there’s Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese (you’ll want to look at the grammar guide portion of the site specifically).
I highly recommend checking out the forum’s compiled list of recommendations linked above, though. There’s a lot of good stuff to check out.
As for how I use these and other resources, I don’t have too many pointers. For a long time, I used Anki religiously to study sentence patterns, and I do think that helped me. Certainly, starting out reading baby-level graded readers and working up toward more difficult material also helped me get my bearings to read Japanese material.
Being able to produce your own sentences and express more complex ideas are some of the most difficult things to do, I think, when learning a language, so study and keep at it for sure! But I would recommend not being too hard on yourself if you’re finding that your speaking/writing ability lags behind reading and listening comprehension. Practice certainly helps. I’ve seen lots of folks on here recommending HelloTalk to find speaking partners in your target language, so you could try using that.
I have used all three of the books you mentioned above.
For me personally it made more sense to go through Genki before “Japanese the manga way” since I feel like a lot of “Japanese the manga way” is easier to apply after understanding the basics of Japanese grammar. Just my opinion though.
I haven’t gone through the whole dictionary of Japanese Grammar yet since it felt more like a resource to come to when not grasping a certain grammar point rather than learning grammar from scratch from. Again, maybe it works for other people but personally I feel like Genki was the best starting point for me.
As I go through each grammar point I make various flashcards with the example sentences provided so I can SRS them in Anki. I feel like I can create sentences much more easily from scratch after Genki and I am planning on going through “Japanese the manga way” after I finished Genki II. I will continue to use the dictionary of grammar as an extra resource.
Read through them, write them out, make sure you understand what’s going on, read through them again. If you have a resource that provides questions, do said questions. If you get any wrong, take note of what they are, and study up on the topic again. Come back to the question a few days later and see if you can do it. Did I mention practice sentences are invaluable?
Try and get exposure to the language outside of your textbook as well. Textbook Japanese is great for understanding concepts, but it’s useful to get used to seeing wild Japanese early on.
Also, remember to review old topics. Regardless of whether you feel like you remember old material or not, going over a few older practice questions can really help.
As @UntitledName said, using Anki for my grammar SRS shows me which grammar points I need to practice more so when getting something wrong I take some time to add more cards with that grammar point for example.
When all that is done, get a sheet of paper, write the title of each grammar point and everything you know about it. It’s important to use your own words. Pretend you’re explaining that grammar to someone else.
Genki doesn’t cover every single use of each grammar point in the introductory lesson. You will find other uses when checking different resources. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to learn them all at once… or do. It’s up to you.
Every resource will explain the same grammar point in a different way. That may or may not get confusing. Beware.
If you don’t understand the way Genki explains something, check other resources first and then come back to Genki.
When writing the grammar points down, try to include example sentences.
I’m using Try! N3 to prepare for next July’s JLPT and complement it with 新完全マスター to get more in depth explanations and tricks about how to approach each section of the exam.
After I learn a grammar point, I create an Anki card with the point in question in the front, and explanation, usage, plus two example sentences in the back, the part hidden. I keep the WaniKani periods because they seem to work fine. It’s been great so far and I feel I’m retaining more information than before using this “system”.
In terms of how to make the most out of these resources, I would say immersion. This is what solidifies grammar, vocabulary, etc. Even if you don’t understand anything they’re saying you slowly begin to pick up sounds and forms. I’ll give you an example. Recently I learned the grammar point 〜ても構わない or 〜ても構いません which means (it’s not problem if you… or something along the lines of that). However, because I heard this so much in the anime I consume and podcasts that are constantly playing in the background when I don’t need to listen to anything, the phrase sounded very familiar, and I picked it up very quickly. This is evidence for me that immersion (even if you don’t understand anything) is beneficial––even grammar points that haven’t been formally learned yet.
Obviously your original question isn’t really answered in this comment but it’s just something to consider (Taekim+bunpro+the other mentioned resources are great!). Don’t worry if you don’t understand, but keep it on nonetheless and I think you will see massive improvements in grammar, understanding and the “feel” for the language.