Genki x Anki alternatives?

So alongside my daily kanji cramming on WK, I’ve been having a Japanese lesson once a week online to work through Genki. On top of work book homework, I’m being asked to learn to vocabulary the best I can from each chapter, but I’m finding it difficult to find a resource as good as WK to help me learn it.

I used Anki when I first tried to work through Genki on my own last year, and I felt was spending more time making cards than actually studying the vocab. I then got a pre-made deck and didn’t love the experience of using it. I’m just wondering if there’s a good alternative out there?

I’ve tried using Memrise’s Genki 1 course and the Japan Times GENKI Vocab app, which was a little better, but both miss out a lot of the vocabulary and Memrise has some sketchy pronunciations that I don’t want to get stuck in my head…

Any help would be greatly appreciated! At this rate, I think I’ll have to go back to Anki and I’m just dreading the thought of it. I can see there were threads on this in the past, but nothing in the past 2 years or so… I’m hoping since then things have improved ;)?

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Honestly if the thought of using a certain learning material makes you feel dread it isnt worth using it even if other people have success. Trying to use something several times but dropping it is another indication. “Does this spark joy?” and all that (like, even having tough times learning a language shouldn’t be outright negative like that).

Genki made me feel like I was wading in mud so I dropped it. Right now I am using youtube videos and renshuu, a little tae kim. But it’s okay if something changes. Maybe in the future if you feel like giving it another shot you can, though I imagine history would just repeat itself if nothing really changed. I used anki in college to memorize certain stuff and it really helped but I never really used it for languages. It’s just another SRS tool, so I could understand the merits of just using wk or just not using anki. I hear torii might also be suitable instead of anki? It’s an app, uses srs and has common word deck, is free.

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For each chapter of Genki I alway memorize the new vocab with quizlet and then add it to my Anki deck. I like the classic flashcard approach with new vocab as opposed to just Anki. There is also the ‘learn’ feature on Quizlet with multiple choice and spelling out both the definitions and meanings which helps me a lot. It also helps that a ton of people have already made Genki vocab decks for each chapter so you dont have to make your own. You could also use something like Torii which is similar to Wanikani’s SRS and is free. They recomend their core 10k but it isnt mandatory and you can add your own vocab as well

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https://kitsun.io has a Genki vocab deck you could try. Kitsun is similar to Anki, but much more modern and approachable. It’s a paid service, but it does have a free trial if you wanted to check it out before committing.

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This is a pretty good metric.

You may be better off leaving Genki and coming back to it. I just looked through some of the vocab in Genki 1 and I know almost all of it just from going through WK for the past year and doing immersion and YouTube. A lot of the grammar points will be much easier to follow when you don’t also have to worry about vocab.

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I wouldn’t recommend dropping Genki, as it’s essential for a beginner to get a foundation of grammar, much more than learning vocabulary outside of WK.

Changing to another textbook is an option, but I don’t think the textbook is the reason to blame for OP’s struggle, so doing so wouldn’t make sense.

I’d follow Seanblue’s suggestion and give Kitsun a try @GameBoyle. The platform is developed by a level 60 user, and your experience will be very similar to WK. The Genki deck there is great, ordered by appearance in the book, divided by chapters (so u can literally jump for your current chapter right away if you wish to), audio, you can choose to either type your answers or have know/don’t know buttons, etc etc.

How the Genki deck looks:

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I agree that grammar is important, but I think that for someone without a lot of time to dedicate to formal study that WK is the essential resource and that grammar can be gleaned more passively through YouTube and immersion. This will obviously be much slower but it is more manageable long term.

Although the OP may not be in this category, so you’re probably right on that point.

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I disagree. If I had to choose between exclusively WaniKani or exclusively a grammar textbook for a new learner, I’d go with the grammar book.

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As someone who kinda focused on just WK until level 60 (with only Genki I under my belt), I’d like to say that I wished I had given grammar more priority. Especially the basic grammar is extremely helpful. Being able to read kanji is super handy, but it won’t help much if you can’t understand sentences/grammar constructions.

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Seems if you don’t frequent WK message boards, nobody even knows about Kitsun and what a great platform it is. Even here, I’m sure plenty have yet to even explore it. I don’t think Tofugu has ever reviewed it, then again the platform keeps getting better with so many upgrades so any review may be out of date quickly.

@GameBoyle, grammar book paths on https://www.bunpro.jp/ have been highly recommended as a companion to Genki (for grammar SRS, not vocab). You sound busy already, just putting it out there.

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I think that’s too much of a simplification for the various reasons that people use the site.

I’m not saying that grammar should be overlooked or that textbook learning isn’t effective. I’m just saying that it requires at least as much effort as WaniKani and probably more.

While you can passively pick up grammar through other resources, you’ll have to learn the Kanji eventually. And learning grammar first will definitely make some parts of WK easier, but doing it the other way around makes learning grammar as a whole much easier.

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But don’t you find it easier to learn grammar now that you can focus on it directly instead of having to do both at the same time? Also, I’m pretty sure having Genki I under your belt covers the basic grammar already.

It sounds like maybe you just used poorly designed books. I used Japanese From Zero and I never had to worry about kanji for the first two books. Every chapter had a set of vocab words, which I studied on Quizlet, and a small number of grammar points, which I reviewed using the included exercises.

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I never used any books, so that’s probably where the odd perspective comes from. :wink: Well, I mean, I have them and I’ve gone through a few but the effort involved wasn’t something I could devote the proper time to. The only reason I can keep up with WK at all is because I can do it on my phone.

Although I’ve heard very good things about George’s course, and his books seem to straddle the middle ground between more classroom focused ones like Genki and more freeform learning.

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Yeah, I can’t compare it to Genki since I’ve never used it, but I found Japanese From Zero to be really good for self study.

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I quit Genki the first time around because learning the vocab frustrated me so much, then I figured out the solution and breezed through the books and had fun with it.

The solution? Always be a week ahead on your vocabulary.

So let’s say you’re doing a chapter a week, which is a fine pace for Genki IMO as it really does have quite a lot of exercises per chapter. The first week you’d study Chapter 1 vocab in Anki, and not do any actual work in Genki. The second week you’d study the Chapter 2 vocab in Anki, and do Chapter 1 in Genki. And so on.

That way when you get to the exercises, you’re already like 90% familiar with the vocab, and can instead focus on learning the grammar. And at the same time you can learn next week’s vocab stress free because for now it’s “just” in Anki.

I used self made cards as I find that making the cards is also a part of getting the vocab into my brain, but if you prefer premade decks that’s probably also fine. Also note I only learned like 80% of the kanji from the Genki vocabulary as they introduce some words containing very advanced kanji early on in the book.

A final small footnote to this: Genki doesn’t just have vocabulary at the start of each textbook chapter. There’s a separate bit on the last page of each textbook chapter (after all the textbook exercises) that often has some important vocabulary.

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I wouldn’t say it covers all basic grammar, but I did Genki I while doing WK at full speed. Of course it helps if you can read words & kanji / focus on it directly, but I don’t think that is something that holds you back from learning grammar.

Grammar is essential and I personally don’t think you can pick it up passively completely. If you are worried about not knowing vocabulary before doing grammar I’d recommend prestudying the vocab with your prefered SRS platform of choice before starting the next lesson. I would not recommend shifting the focus to WK completely.

In that situation you finish WK and you know a lot of Kanji and vocabulary but you won’t retain them well because your grammar is not on a good enough level yet to consume native material such as novels. I forgot a LOT of the stuff I learned from WK due to not being able to consume above mentioned materials. Sadly, burning items does not guarantee that you will forever know it.

I think having a healthy mix of grammar, kanji and vocabulary studies is the way to go. Sometimes focusing more on one area than another if you deem fit. Everyone is different of course, but this is my view after trying to learn this language for a couple of years ^^

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Thanks for the responses folks, there’s a lot to mill through here, but I think I’ll at least try Seanblue and jprspereira’s advice and give Kitsun a try! The interface looks pretty similar to WK which us plus, but mainly I quite liked using Bunpro the first time I tried learning Japanese, so I know apps is the way to go for me!

Just for clarity’s sake, it’s worth mentioning that my issue isn’t with Genki itself, but more with the lack of modern learning resources around it. I’m going through it with a private tutor, so I do feel that’s making a difference compared to trying to use it for self-study as I did before.

The one issue I have with the WK exclusive approach is that while I’m learning the Kanji, I’m not seeing them in context. It means when I try to read a sentence, I’m reliant on the kanji without really understanding the particles / how the hiragana change their meaning. I’m pretty impressed that I can already at level 5 skim a page of manga and at least get the gist of some speech bubbles, but I want the nuance :wink:

Cehrlich - That’s a great tip, I’ll bare that in mind as I go along, it’ll probably make the lessons more on point rather than me having to flick back and forth the text book for words I’ve forgotten…

I do think there’s value in making Anki cards, but I’m a graphic designer… The occupational hazards of perfectionism set in and it takes me a hell of a lot longer to chose the ‘right’ image, at a good quality, with the text set nicely… :upside_down_face:

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I’d beg to differ. There’s an old adage that says to learn something new, you should already know 80% of it. Grammar is much easier to learn once you can start flying through sentences of hiragana and knowing most of the vocabulary. The problem I had (as a solo learner) was that I would have to look up every word in a sentence while studying grammar, and by the end of the lesson, I would suffer from information overload and struggle to retain half of what I’d learnt. I found that once I spent some time learning a bunch of vocabulary first, that my grammar studies were suddenly 100x simpler.

Of course I wouldn’t stick to only Wanikani all the way up to level 60 but if I were to only exclusively use one for some amount of time, I would choose WaniKani over a textbook as it’s low commitment, can be done everyday even if you only have 5 minutes to spare, and it’s something that’s easy to come back to.

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