Genki- How do YOU use it?

Hello! I am using the old reliable textbook Genki and, I must admit, I am not enjoying it. It is seeming like a complete drag and it does not feel like much is going in past what I already know. I am using the vocab lists along with HouHou to learn the vocabulary in the books and, that is okay but I am finding the grammar lessons, well, lacking examples. The explanations are pretty solid but… well maybe I am being picky.
Can anyone recommend anything to help me either 1. power through Genki and ease my suffering i.e. any sort of resource with more examples correlating to specific grammar 2. or do you think that maybe I should use another resource such as Imabi, Tae Kim etc. and maybe come back to Genki at a later date or even 3. use Genki alongside Imabi/ Tae Kim ( multi-tasking isn’t my specialty so would try to avoid)

If this makes any sense, thanks for the help! :smiley:


Japanese From Zero is pretty fun.

Try Japanese the Manga Way

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Text books in general have been absolutely useless for me. and JP101 (thought I don’t like it IMO) are both much better for me. They do a better job of just getting the information out.

Genki seems to be overrated as THE go to textbook for Japanese.


I started with Genki and it didn’t work out very well. Right now, I’m 100 to 150 pages into finishing the Tae Kim’s guide.

If I was to start all over again, I would suggest the Youtuber Japanese Ammo with Misa and the Tae Kim’s Guide. The Tae Kim’s guide has everything condensed into 1 place while Misa explains things in a very SIMPLE way. When I have something that I feel I don’t understand very well, I just go to Misa’s videos and I normally get my ideas straight.

Take into consideration that Misa only has like 50 videos so you might not find the thing that you’re looking for there.

Never tried other textbooks.


Sheer willpower and a Japanese-like work ethic. Jokes aside, the first few chapters are pure suffering. Check out the the writing section if you haven’t already. There are some longer passages to read in later chapters that are more fun. Otherwise consider it extra time to work on things that have trouble with or just easy days until you get to new material.

Imabi has even less examples/practice sections than Genki and Tae Kim’s guide has the least of them all. Japanese the Manga Way is mostly one panel to a grammar point as well, so it’s not much better in that regard, but the comics do make it more fun as you progress through the book. Human Japanese has a lot of sample dialogues with audio and breakdowns, but depending on your progress you’re probably past a lot of it and the first volume is kana only… Personally, I would just set a schedule and force myself through Genki, but I’m more of a traditional learner. As others have pointed out there’s tons of new age alternatives out there as well.

If you’re willing to compensate for the slog with reading materials check out the resources thread and consider something like a bilingual book, satori reader, nhk easy, ect. I’ve been finding children’s reading materials a fun way to offset the suffering.

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I’m currently doing Genki as well (though I’m pretty sure you’re on the second one?), and I think the most valuable part of the series is the amount of exercises it has. I have both the textbook and the workbook, and by doing all the tasks I really feel that it helps solidify the grammar points. I’ve also had to realize that studying won’t necessarily be fun. I understand that it might be a drag to force yourself through it, but I don’t think it will hurt to repeat things you already know.

With that said, textbooks aren’t for everyone! We’re all different and require different tools to maximize our learning. I suggest trying out different resources until you find what works best for you. Personally I’m very fond of traditional textbook learning.

Yer. I hear you and I am a fan of traditional textbooks as well. I am thinking that I will persevere; just try to grind the grammar as much as possible and then go on to another resource. I do agree that the workbook and the questions are the most helpful part. I suppose it is just a matter of gritting your teeth and getting through it.
Thank you for the help everyone. :blush:

Genki is more of a classroom textbook - it is assumed there that when learning new grammar you will have a teacher to explain it more in detail for you and you will get tasks to make sentences yourself with the grammar. Still, it’s possible to use the textbook when solo studying as well. I think some grammar gets clearer once you start doing exercises related to it but if it’s still unclear I suggest you complement Genki’s explanations with the ones provided on “A dictionary of basic Japanese grammar”. There’s tons of examples and explanations for every nuance - tho for a beginner I don’t think it’s necessary to know all the small details about every grammar, as long as you get the main point. I personally think Genki is a great learning material so as long as you read up more on the parts you don’t get using other materials, you should be fine keeping on using it :slight_smile:

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I feel like the workbook is very important. One of my main problems studying with the Tae Kim’s guide is that it completely lacks exercises.

I might purchase the workbooks in the future ^^ There’s 2, right?

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Yea the workbooks are pretty good, but you need to purchase a seperate book for the answers, which is like a master answer book for both the textbook exercises and the workbook exercises.

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I use Genki, and the explanations they give aren’t stellar, but what they do have that many other resources lack, are examples. The textbook itself has a review section after every chapter, and the workbook has A TON of examples and practice questions for every subsection in every lesson! So even if you don’t fully understand something while reading the explanation, after doing the reviews you’ll surely understand it.

Also, Genki has this resource: Self-study Room offers a variety of online materials to support your learning with Genki textbooks.

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I just read the dialogues at the beginning, then check the translations to see if I was right (or how close to correct I was), then read the grammar points and move on to the next chapter.
But I also watch the Nihongonomori N5-N4 playlist. While things aren’t in the same order, there is still approximate overlap and great examples, in a quick format.

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My formula for Genki has become:

  1. Listen to, then read dialogue, covering translation until I’ve worked out as much as I can;

  2. Listen to + read vocab, covering translation and trying to translate myself before the audio file tells me;

  3. Read grammar points;

  4. Do workbook exercises with the grammar section open in front of me for regular referral. Cry at how long this step always takes;

  5. Do main textbook exercises. If I can do any of the pair work exercises on my own, do those as well;

5.5. If any of the grammar points still aren’t clear, Google (though I’m starting to refer to Tae Kim more specifically);

  1. Kanji sections, which are a breeze thanks to WK but I still enjoy learning stroke order and doing translations.

Rinse and repeat for each chapter. Every so often I’ll go back and re-read earlier grammar points or re-listen to dialogues to make sure I’ve retained those lessons. I don’t really drill the vocab, because I’ve found a lot of it is covered in WK or whatever other exposure I have to Japanese.


I don’t follow. Every grammar point explanation has a multitude of example sentences, and the grammar practice section has dozens more, which you can listen to a native speaker pronounce. That doesn’t even count the workbook. I’m not sure I’ve seen another resource with so many examples for every grammar point.

I second the user who mentioned Japanese the Manga Way… it’s a much much more fun book to read. I went through that whole book concurrently. But in that book you’re going to get 1 or maybe 2 examples only per grammar point and zero practice exercises.

Genki’s content is fairly boring, yes. I hate Mary and Takeshi just as much as you. But it is a very complete resource. If you stick with it there’s a lot of potential for solidifying what you’re learning.

My 2cents :slight_smile:

My formula for Genki I and II was:

  1. Read the dialogue as a sort of preview for upcoming grammar points
  2. Take notes on 1 or 2 grammar points a day, which involved rephrasing everything in my own words until I fully understood it, and writing practice sentences
  3. Simultaneously learn the vocab using Anki and Memrise
  4. Do the workbook exercises after finishing vocab and grammar, and try to rely solely on memory for the grammar points to further reinforce them
  5. Correct any workbook exercises as needed with the answer key
  6. Do the readings in the back of the book. They’re actually somewhat interesting and fairly good for reinforcing a variety of grammar points

I didn’t do the kanji writing practice since it would take extra time and I’m less interested in it currently. I also limited myself to a maximum of 2 weeks per chapter.

Now that I’m finished with the books but am in need of listening practice, I find myself returning to them to utilize the dialogues included on the CDs. There are transcripts for these dialogues in the answer key, so it’s been a very valuable tool.


They sure know how to make money from desperate Japanese learners :expressionless:

Thanks for the info! :slight_smile:

Does anybody here study the grammar and vocab before reading/listening to the dialogue? Right now I’m just starting out with Genki 1 for review, but eventually I will get to the point where it’s not review. I think I might get frustrated trying to understand the dialogue without knowing about what’s going to be in it…or maybe there’s not that much new stuff per chapter…idk…

As far as additional resources, I’m using for additional listening practice and this memrise course for vocab drilling.

It depends on the chapter. Most chapters only seem to add a few points, however I recall one or two really dense chapters (at least for me).

Also, the dialogue at the beginning (if reading it, I don’t know about listening to it) is pretty easy to guess at, based on context. I wouldn’t worry too hard - whatever you don’t get, just acknowledge you don’t, move on to the grammar, and then come back and be “oh, that’s why that means that!”… You just have to allow yourself to be wrong. It’s okay to make mistakes; we’re learning after all. ^^

[EDIT and UNRELATED: I’m pretty annoyed that Discourse changed something that will no longer let me make my favourite emoji to smile - it’s now getting converted into a yellow smiley, even with the previously cancelling backslash in there. ~(O.O)~ ]

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If you find yourself thinking that you are suffering while reading Genki then it might be worth looking into other resources. Other people have suggested Japanese the Manga Way, which is a decent resource, but it does lack a lot of examples too. I think that book is better off as a supplement to a more dedicated grammar resource. Tae Kim is a little thin too, but each grammar lesson is relatively short to the point you could do one (or a couple) each day and not feel like you’re losing your mind from boredom. He gives a few examples, but nothing to practice which can be a problem for some people (although I think just reading native material and referencing your grammar sources is good enough practice).

You could try Imabi since quite a few people seem to like it and from what I hear its basically a more in-depth version of Tae Kim’s guide, so that’s something to look into. But I think the most important thing is to find a grammar source that doesn’t make you feel like you’re suffering, otherwise you will just get burnt out on it and lose focus altogether.