I ordered uhh… around 10 secondhand textbooks including genki1, minna no nihongo1&2, sou matome n4 and a few others. Plus 2 workbooks. I’ve been seeing different opinions regarding them for self studying because they include exercises with a partner etc.
So I wanted to see for myself and resell what I don’t like but I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Especially from those of you that are out of the beginner stages and looking back. Were you happy with your book(s)?
Hi @Lattemeowcchiato! Have a look at this topic for Genki 1
Thanks, I’ve read through some of it a few days ago actually! Seems like most people used genki but I wonder if there’s a better textbook for self studying out there.
Opinions vary from experience and preference but for me, without a doubt, it was the Japanese From Zero series (Books 1 through 4). It starts easy enough without kanji and introduces Hiragana and Katakana progressively. It’s much more self-study friendly.
Again, just my opinion. I don’t recommend Minna no Nihongo. Who starts studying a language with a textbook written entirely in the target language you’re studying? It doesn’t make sense and it will only frustrate the student, and possibly force them to quit. I think there were translations of the book, but what’s the point of using two books, textbook plus translation. Too much hassle.
Hope this helps. Good luck with your studies
For self-study, I’d recommend Assimil.
I personally preferred Genki over Minna No Nihongo. I found Genki very beginner-friendly without dumbing things down too much. Sou matome is a fun series although to me it feels like more of a supplementary than the main source of study.
I always like immersion when studying and I get that with Minna No Nihongo. If I have questions I can always look at the English for clarification in the other book, but it forces me to use Japanese which I really like. Some people may prefer English alongside or romaji, but for me those things take me out of enjoying material immediately. It will always come down to personal preference though. As you have probably read, most people either love or hate genki, some people hate Minna No Nihongo, but I personal really enjoy it. So it is a great strategy to look at all of them, go through a few chapters and then decide which ones you like for yourself. Since everyone has a different opinion on which one is their favorite, and some people tend to have a problem with one person not liking the book that they really like…hahah! Have fun no matter what, I’m sure you will find what works best for you!
I found Human Japanese very good and cheap. Explains culture and grammar points well too.
I’ve read the first 5ish chapters of Genki 1, Japanese From Zero 1, and Human Japanese. I found all three of them good, but each is presented a bit differently. I’ve never had the opportunity to look at Minna No Nihongo or a few of the others I sometimes see mentioned.
I think it really depends on how you personally like to work/learn. For me, I’ve had the best luck with Genki. The other two, while interesting and informative, just didn’t have whatever nebulous thing I needed to be motivated to open them regularly.
I would like to chime in with a controversial statement.
Don’t study the textbooks…
I studied the entirety of Tae kim’s grammar guide, and while it was overall pretty good, it paled in comparison to cure dolly’s youtube series.
The entirety of the japanese language has become much clearer to me after that series, because it explained underlying concepts of how the language actually works, compared to the many grammar points given in standard textbooks.
My refreshed view of the language is a much simpler and logical construct and that is why i recommend it over a traditional textbook.
For example, the difference of は and が seems to haunt many, me included, but it took one video of 15 minutes for me to finally “get it” and its actually super easy to understand, yet a textbook did not help me to understand it because it was explained in relation to the english language and not as it conceptually is.
Ive praised cure dolly enough now and will see myself out.
The best textbook is gonna be whichever one you stick with all the way through. As long as the textbook has a clear progression and teaches you the basics of the language, you should be fine. Do the exercises and hopefully you also have a workbook to practice the grammar points in. Supplement what you learn in Genki (or whatever textbook you choose) with online resources to make sure you really understand the grammar point.
I just finished going over all the Genki I chapters, and I have 2 chapters left of the workbook. I think Genki does it’s job well enough as long as you have other grammar resources to smooth everything out. But no one resource is going to be perfect.
On the issue of Genki for self-learners, how do you handle the exercises in the book that seem to require two people.
Also, my understanding is that the answer key for the workbook is entirely in Japanese. This seems like a frustrating nightmare for beginners to face. How do you deal with checking your answers in the workbook?
I’ve been using the Human Japanese apps for grammar study and they seem to be fine. The explanations are mostly clear and jargon free and I like how you can tap to listen to almost any example word and sentence. However, I do wish there were more practice exercises and the quizzes at the end of chapters seem weak and inadequate. Once I get a bit farther I plan to use Bunpro to practice and help cement the grammar points. (I tried using Bunpro to learn grammar but it was frustrating linking to all the off site resources that varied hugely in quality and clarity)
I used the Human Japanese application years ago, and I liked it a lot. It was long enough ago that I don’t really remember how good it was (in hindsight) or indepth it was. I just know that I have positive feelings associated with it.
What I remember distinctly is that it taught me what Japanese actually sounds like, with explanations for the hiragana and every character/word clickable with a sound file, and even a comparison of someone saying a Japanese word with an American accent for comparison.
Also it’s description of kanji as something the Japanese would load up in their boats and raid the Chinese coasts for every couple hundred years.
Exercises are just extra pages to make books thicker and to pad out classroom time.
When i started learning japanese, i tried pretty much all of the popular choices.
First thing i tried ( and tried it again after some time ) was tae kims guide, but i didnt like it at all cause at that time it didnt seem structured enough for me.
Then i tried Minna no nihongo and i think that its moving too slow and doesnt cover as much content, i didnt like it in overall.
Next thing i did was work through the Genki 1 book, and i actually had fun working through the first book. Afterwards i got the Japanese from Zero 4 book, but i couldnt bear finishing it. There were some errors in the book that made me stop using it. I did work through the kanji book though if i remember correct.
In the end, for me Genki is the best and that is what i recommend to other people who want to learn japanese by themselves, or in class. For the partner exercises just skip them, make something up yourself, or look for a study budy online.
Tae kims guide shouuld be ok too, but i dont recommend the japanese from zero books. I had a couple errors in the book, plus the progress is very slow. Probably, all the stuff you learn in those 5 or so books, you learn in tae kims guide or the 2 genki books.
Also, use Kanji from the beginning, dont rely on hiragana when writing.
Thank you everyone for your input! If I don’t like the books I ordered I will definitely look for the other ones mentioned on here.
Perhaps I should’ve said that I’ve been using all kinds of free online resources for a while now including tae kim, cure dolly, japanese from zero, japaneseammo and human japanese free pand a lot more. Plus consuming all kinds of japanese media- although I don’t understand all that much yet.
With self studying “bookless” it feels like I’m grabbing random puzzle pieces of knowledge here and there and I’m hoping to get a stronger foundation via a textbook structure with exercises etc. Maybe it’ll work, maybe not, I’ll see!
The first book already arrived, it’s called J Bridge but it seems like it’s very tailored towards a classroom setting.
As far as “bookless” goes, there’s also LingoDeer. It’s well structured and covers all the same material as Genki, but you can do it on the go when you have 5 free minutes, plus no worries about needing a partner.
You just summed up my entire learning method so I guess I can’t help!
This post made me finally pull the trigger and buy the Genki pack on Amazon. It was like $140, but with the praise it gets it’s probably going to be worth every $1.
In the past I used Minna no Nihongo, I think it’s a really good way to learn since it makes you read all in Japanese, but maybe not that friendly for self studying. I had a teacher and she used that book to teach, so it was easier since she explained. So while I definitely recommend the book, it may not be the best if you are completely new or don’t have a teacher.