Genki Vocabulary- Is it useful?

I had originally picked up Genki I and II. I’m almost through Genki I. I’ve heard a lot of different things about studying with textbooks- I also saw in many of the resource threads that みんなの日本語 has been a preferred textbook. I ended up sticking with Genki since I already had it, but I had also started a class to practice speaking, and I keep hearing about how the textbook doesn’t reflect the used language at all.

I have the Kanzen Master series for N4 and I will supplement more and more with other native materials, but I wanted to get some basics in first. Is it worth even memorizing the vocabulary in Genki? Did anyone think the differences with みんなの日本語 was worth it? Or are all of the textbooks pretty much the same in that regard?



I spent about 15 months with the Genki vocab in an anki deck, and it made me really good at answering the Genki exercises.

If I could do it again, I’d spend time on a ‘core’ deck of vocab alongside the grammar in Genki.

Genki I’s vocab is severely lacking kanji, and the stuff you learn in II is really useful in a classroom setting, but it hasn’t really translated into me reading native material.

I don’t feel like I wasted my time learning the Genki vocab, because it meant I could attack the exercises and workbook with ease which really cemented the grammar in my head, but I do wish I’d supplemented my time a bit more with core/common vocab too.

I’m a bit burned out with SRS systems now, so I’ve cut out the Genki stuff and only do WK. I’m just jumping into reading and learning on the go with vocab. There’s only so many flashcards a man can stomach.


I have looked at multiple textbooks and reviews and decided to start with Genki. Both Genki and みんなの日本語 seem to be the most widely used books on the. The main reason that I went with Genki is that it does use english instead of having to have a second translation book to go along with it. I don’t like having to look back and forth between 2 books constantly.

I am not so worried about the lack of kanji used in Genki. That is what WaniKani is for.

So far I have not started a supplemental vocabulary deck with Anki yet but will probably do so in the future.


Genki’s vocab is probably not the most efficient way of studying very common vocab, but it certainly beats WK’s vocab which is arranged in a way to make you practice Kanji readings, and not in order of maximum usefulness.

That said, some people exaggerate with their complaints about Genki. Yes, in real life, people don’t speak like in textbooks. But that doesn’t mean that textbook language is wrong, it’s just that native speakers have more range in vocabulary, grammar, use of slang etc. Obviously, you can’t have all that from the start.

What you learn in Genki I and II is IMHO useful vocabulary. Maybe not all of it is the most common, and yes, some of it is maybe focused a bit much on student life, but it’s not like if you learn what 人類学 means that will set back your progress, and that’s probably the “weirdest” word of the bunch (all the other words for college majors you learn, 経済, 政治, etc. are fairly important words even in other contexts, I think).



Every word can pop up everywhere, it’s just a matter of what you want to know. :wink:


人類学 has a bit more of a specific meaning though, as opposed to just 人類. Almost all of the humanities and social sciences are somehow concerned with 人類, but not all of it is specifically called anthropology.

TLDL: go with a core vocabulary set of flashcards rather than textbook vocabulary then pick up individual specialized vocabulary for what you want to talk/ write about.

I have both Genki 1&2 and also みんなの日本語 (full set of beginner and intermediate level books). So far I’ve completed both Genki books but found most of the vocabulary pretty redundant (except some of the basic vocabulary) for what I’m trying to now read and I found that for me みんなの日本語 (completed the red beginner set and half of the blue beginner set) has been more useful and seems to have a wider range of vocabulary thank Genki did.

I found みんなの日本語 was better for gaining practice with the grammar points and for increasing understanding of vocabulary as well as reading speed than Genki and most of the みんなの日本語 vocabulary I’ve learned through using the books but didn’t require a flashcard set whereas Genki vocabulary for me hasn’t stuck unless it’s everyday words.

That’s not to say I’m dissing Genki though. It has both good and bad points just like みんなの日本語 and each individual will find the book that suits them best. If you’re really just looking for what is the most suitable vocabulary set to learn though, I’d go with a core set of flashcards on anki or whichever program you’re using instead of learning a lot of irrelevant vocabulary from a textbook you may never use again.


Thanks, everyone! I’ll stick with most of it that I know I’ll need for the JLPT and use supplemental resources. I will inevitably keep using words that a native wouldn’t, haha.

My class experience:
‘コンピューター?’ ’ううん, パソコン’
'けいたいでんわ?’ ’ううん、スマホ’


Then, I tried a tutoring session and the tutor said, ‘Oh, Genki? That’s so old. None of the words are used anymore.’

The journey of learning Japanese has felt more like learning what to learn, so I appreciate everyone’s advice!


I definitely agree with the flashcards. I started a new book, so I’m adding new flashcards. But then I have pre-existing vocabulary, kanji, and WK. I’m slowly hating SRS systems, haha.

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人類 humanity
学 study


The word I remember being like wth is this was 化粧室, and I’ve heard that somewhere since, I think. Plus the kanji helps.

I mean it’s not completely out there, but anthropology means something rather specific. Sociology or history, for example, are also arguably “the study of humankind”.

(It’s possible that 人類学 is used more broadly in Japanese, though, I can’t rule that out.)

Tbh, I would steer clear of a tutor who says something as outrageously absurd as “none of the words in these entire two textbooks are used anymore”. I’ve certainly seen words from Genki used in native material, so… :man_shrugging:


That’s an odd thing to say. Genki just published their 3rd edition a few years ago, and saying “none” of the words are used anymore surely is an exaggeration. Also, you have to start somewhere, and no textbook is gonna teach you the latest slang from the start. Switching textbooks is not gonna solve that problem. I’d just stick to what textbook you already own. I personally really liked Genki, much better than Minna no Nihongo.


Well, yeah, but スマホ only applies if it’s actually a smart phone. Just けいたい works well enough to talk about mobile phones in general, though.

Nope, if any of the words are out-of-fashion, all of them are. That’s why so many people quit WaniKani over 里心.


Not into textbooks personally, but I like Game Gengo’s videos on genki and J-Crosswords besides having N5-N1 they also have genki vocabulary in crossword puzzle form too.

It’s so funny I saw this thread today of all times because I was just reading something where 携帯電話 was used instead of スマホ and I was so confused because I always see phones called スマホ…


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