Genki textbooks

Hi, this may be a bad question, but, what are the differences between the Genki textbook & workbook I and II? Do you need the answer key and workbook? Also, what is a good level to start at?

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Genki I is the first book Genki II the second book. I recommend to get both books and workbooks

You don’t need the workbooks but in my opinion it helps doing the exercises in the workbook.

You can start the first genki book right away.


Thank you!

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Im currently self-studying with Genki 1 and its workbook along a dictionary of basic japanese grammar. However, I read a few reviews on Genki saying that is not that great as a self study materials. I haven’t notice anything yet, still on chapter 3. So perhaps, there might be other books that you think I ought to get to help with my self study materials?


I think these reviews are because Genki has a focus on classroom learning. A lot of the exercise are pair or group work and then some exercises are clearly intended to test your ability to think and communicate and then be graded by your teacher. This makes it difficult, but not impossible, for self-study students.

You don’t need the Answer Key if you have a tutor but if you don’t then I’d recommend it. I don’t think the Workbook should be seen as optional because the exercises in it are valuable and it has the listening exercises in it.

I used Genki after using online self-study materials and I think my Japanese gotten better after using Genki. I like the structure and I like the exercises. Too many online resources have spotty or no exercises which force you to use what you’ve read and I like how Genki slowly takes off the training wheels.

In later chapters you’re expected to write your own thoughts in Japanese which might be difficult without a tutor, but for most of them I think people on this forum are helpful enough, kind enough, and generous enough to glance over these and help you out if you get stuck.


That’s true. There are quite a lot of role playing here. I was thinking of getting more materials to study at. Is there a workbook that’s good for beginner level? I’m not sure if it exist or not, hardly see anyone mention about workbook at all.

I’ll put it this way. I used Genki to help me get started, but really most of my initial learning came by doing Japanese for Business People 1 to actually learn the grammatical functions… and now that I’ve finished Genki 1 and started Genki 2, I’ve decided to review with Minna no Nihongo and have switched to having that be my main textbook.

Genki has some flashy attractions, but as a grammar textbook, it is missing quite a lot… Unfortunately, as I just reviewed and realized, about 60-70% of the book is English… That being said, I do think the workbook is useful, and the listening and reading material at the back of the book is great. I’m mainly using Genki for model conversations, and some listening and reading practice… Even though it is flawed, I’m glad I have it as a resource and have gone through it, even though my learning was not that clear.

Which of those three would you recommend to start out with?

As others have said, Genki I is the first book and Genki II is the second part. Genki has romanji (first two lessons I think) and furigana so you can start at any level.

If you’re curious as to what the content of the workbook / exercises are, I’ve been using this site to review Genki I textbook and workbook exercises. I found it more convenient and fun as you can cycle through various exercise types. Having the option to remove furigana also helps reading / kanji retention.

Hope that helps!


It depends on how old you are…

Besides the fact that the first volume doesn’t have kanji, I think Japanese for Busy People is a decent book to get going on, if you are an adult… For one, it has helped me improve my kana reading (get the kana version, obviously, and not the romaji version). Also, the lessons/units themselves are not too long and practice exercises aren’t too difficult to follow. The audio samples are well-recorded and well-organized (as opposed to Genki’s which feel somewhat random at times, though some of the content there is definitely useful if used well). It’s easy to make progress and keep moving forward. You’ll eventually need to switch to something else (such as Minna no Nihongo), but it’s a great introduction to the grammar and vocabulary (all presented in kana in Book 1).

Minna no Nihongo is definitely the strongest textbook from what I’ve noticed about thus far in my studies, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it (but maybe would!) at the start.

There’s also Japanese from Zero, which is generally user-friendly, as another suggestion, but it depends on your learning style.

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I’m taking evening class that uses Genki, and was amused to look through Japanese for Busy People and see that the list of buildings in town included things like “embassy” and “liquor store”, while Genki is very much more college student life centered.

On the other hand, I find the exercises in JfBP to be much more “copy this dialogue three times, substituting in these two phrases where underlined”. I’m using it for handwriting practice, but I don’t feel that I’m learning as much from it as I do from the classroom with Genki. Then again, I do have the instructor giving explanations and feedback and partner work, so it’s not just trying to self study from the text.

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That makes sense, and I agree! Those underlined phrases are useful for beginners, but they are somewhat mechanical and possibly forgettable (if you don’t apply that knowledge). Really, though, that’s why I recommend Minna no Nihongo, because it gives clearer presentations of the grammar AND it drills the material in a more diverse set of ways.

I’m curious how your instructor presents the grammar. I’m doing self-study and I find the Genki explanations to be a little odd (useful at first, but not clear enough in their presentation). If I were in a class, though, I’d probably enjoy the book more (Note: I still use it, but I just don’t feel that confident with the material based on what the book has offered to me…).

I just looked at the price of Minna no Nihongo, and it seems pretty much as expensive as Genki. I might just do what @Graymalkin did, and use Genki as my main textbook. And maybe get Japanese for Busy People as a kind of secondary book. For me personally, I find it a huge deterrent when a text is particularly mundane. It’s probably a bad habit, but that is my main reason for not wanting to go for Japanese for Busy People, since it seems to be very “professional”

Sounds good!

In Japan, the price of MnN is a bit cheaper, but I think your plan is good for you! I just recommend using some other supplemental resources to clarify the grammar (such as the Dictionary of Basic Grammar)… and… definitely get the workbook if you want to practice (and use the practice exercises at the back of the book as soon as possible!).

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