I think there’s no such thing as “the best way of reading a textbook”. More precisely, it’s different for everyone. For some it would be better to just read through it, taking in what they can and leaving the rest for later.
For some – to read very thoroughly while taking notes.
For some – to add every item as SRS…
Only you can find out which would work best for you.
Genki can be hard to read start to finish. This is especially due to the partner exercises and readings etc throughout the book that make reading it not straight forward. It would be beneficial if you could get a teacher to start you off with grammar and guide you through the first parts (e.g off italki etc.). After understanding the basics (and having a consistent reference point, through that period to answer the questions you’ll come up with) reading the textbook yourself is easier (and you can just skip the other parts and just read the grammar explanations and examples in the book).
However, if you are committed to learning through reading - i’d recommend you read something like Tae Kim’s guide to Japanese grammar (which is free). it’s slightly more of a sequential, narrative, and easy to read format and i personally found it more intuitive.
Some textbooks are best used in a classroom setting, with a teacher leading the way through the instructions and text. Others are more for self-study purposes.
As I haven’t used Genki or any text book to this day, I can’t say where this one falls. I know I’ve read it in comments, but I forget.
In any case, try to set up some kind of method for going through the book. Think about it in terms of learning sessions-perhaps for yourself, where you read through chapters, then if there are examples and vocab lists, go through them as the end points. Let the info sink in a bit, and then move on. I’m sure there are already Anki-cards for the Genki books if you wanna use a deck for it. But, you could just “browse” the book for now, and then go back to it as a “dictionary source” as you need to, while keeping the SRS-thing to WK for now.
Just some thoughts. It really depends on your study-goals I think. Which I don’t know much about. Whether you have to be very pro-active and forward, or if you can take your time with this learning-journey you’re on.
Edit: "this sounds like such a dumb question, but how is the best way to use japanese textbooks? " It’s not a dumb question as many will feel overwhelmed when looking into a Japanese textbook. For me, the issue was the English grammar terminology, which I might have understand somewhat some 20 years ago when I had English to English learning, even as a non-English speaker. Even then I wasn’t on top of it though. Terminology isn’t always straight-forward, and the way people try to translate the ideas of grammar between Japanese and English is even harder to understand at times.
I too have a hard time with Genki, and sometimes have to push myself to get through it. I really and truly don’t like studying grammar, but feel it’s going to be worth it in the long run though
Here’s my workflow:
I try to dedicate 1-2 weeks to a chapter.
On day 1, I will begin by reading the chapter’s dialogue end to end, multiple times, and listening to it with the book’s mp3s.
Next I will go through all the vocabulary provided for that chapter. I also add an Anki deck with the chapter’s vocab for daily studying. You can find all pre-made deck here.
There is usually a number of grammar points for each chapter. On day 2, aside from reviewing things from the day before, I will thoroughly read the first grammar point and try to understand it fully. I will also watch some video on that grammar point (TokiniAndy on youtube has been very helpful so far), and take some notes.
Once I feel I have a good grasp on that grammar point, I will do the exercises. I use this site to do the workbook exercises online instead of on paper, but that’s up to you.
I also have a “Grammar points” Anki deck which I will add to when needed, by using the notes I wrote.
Rinse and repeat on Day 3 and following with the above flow, until all grammar points for the chapter and all accompanying exercises are done.
Once all grammar points are done, I will go back to the dialogue and ensure I understand it fully with my new knowledge. At this point I normally have a good understanding of the chapter’s content, and Anki cards that will help remembering that content in the long run.
This has worked well enough so far. Splitting up 1 grammar point per day allows me to study grammar for no more than 20-30 minutes a day depending on difficulty, which is a reasonable amount of time for me.
I agree that a teacher would be ideal. However, if you don’t have access to classes or a tutor, you might want to try Tokini Andy’s videos on YouTube. He works his way through Genki 1 & 2 lesson by lesson and I find his explanations very clear. I’m taking a class but I have found my teacher’s grammar explanations very difficult to absorb, so I’ve gone back to the beginning and watching TA’s videos has been really helpful. 【N5】Genki 1 Lesson 1 Grammar Made Clear | XはYです・Question か・の Particle - YouTube
If you bought Genki, then you have also bought the apps that go with it (at least if you bought 3rd edition, like I just bought, together with the workbook). I first listen to the Vocabulary audio tracks while looking at the Vocabulary list. Then I drill on the English to Japanese audiotrack until I know it. (Since I’ve already been studying Japanese for 3+ years and have finished Duolingo and at WK39, this is a fast review for me, with very few words that I hadn’t learned previously.) Do the relevant kanji and Vocabulary learning worksheets at the back of the Genki textbook, in the workbook and the apps. Then I do the dialogs. Then I do the grammar sections, similarly, and re-do the dialogs to understand where the grammar was used.
You want an optimal SRS spacing on your learning: do a thing until you’re familiar, then review it later that same day to see what you missed and fix it, then again the next day, and again the day after that. Then again a few days later, to see if you “nailed it”. You can repeat/quiz yourself on the exercises using the exercise audio on the apps. It should take more than a week for each Chapter (2 weeks might be better). (It takes me ages to get the homeworks done, and I already know all of this… it’s all review; because I’m trying to hand-write and speak all of it)
A lot of the homeworks require live speaking and listening with a partner. Maybe you can find randos who want to do the exercises with you on one of the many Japanese language learning servers? I’ve found a (very) few people eager for free practice (live meetings are difficult).
When you do your other immersion, try to identify grammar and words that you know, and say “Yay, me!”
(Anyone else looking at this thread should consider working together with TravisSmith on this for free on discord… you could help each other level up!!)
EDIT: Wow, Maiku said what I said… but much more beautifully!
(I hadn’t read the whole thread before replying)
that sounds like a good idea!! I tend to suffer from a ‘too big picture’ kinda thing, where instead of being able to break a chapter or even lesson down into its key focuses, I see all the content conversations, notes and whatever and get overwhelmed.
I think maybe just reading through it in total first will defo help!!
thanks for telling me your process!! It seems I had as fundamental misunderstanding about how long each chapter is designed for, knowing I can take a week to propely get into it alone makes it seem more accessable!!
Thank you! I think I am gonna try out your method! potentially with the help of some youtube links others provided!! also thank you for the decks and the exercises link, I much prefer doing workbooks online as for some reason my adhd brain hates making mistakes on paper XDD
yeah! maybe I will check out Tae Kim! I have Bunpro the grammar SRS but I got genki to actually teach it! if Tae Kim is better, maybe that would be worth adding, although I do like that Genki has some vocab added in as my japanese speaking sucks haha
Genki is designed for a classroom setting but I used it independently. From my experience, if I could do it again, I would go through the vocab (find an anki deck and use SRS for each chapter’s vocab) and read grammar bits by yourself (I don’t think SRSing grammar, especially for this stage is necessary), then get an iTalki instructor to go through the activity sections with you.
This is a useful resource if you’re studying Genki alone, as I am. Genki Exercises - 2nd Edition | Genki Study Resources It has interactive versions of the comprehension and workbook exercises. I also have an Anki deck with the complete vocabulary of Genki I (for now) and ask my teacher on Anki what words or sets of words I can safely delete.