Help with shifting to textbook lessons?

Hi everyone! I’m level 28 and a law student, which means I don’t get an incredible amount of time to study, though it’s by no means impossible to get my reviews and lessons in. My problem is that I’ve been learning all of these kanji and I need to start expanding my studies, especially considering my wonderful girlfriend just bought me the Genki textbooks.

Does anyone have any suggestions from personal experience about the best way to tackle the textbook while still doing my lessons here? It seems like the textbook requires a lot of sitting, reading, memorizing, and re-reading and I’m curious if anyone has found a solid balance for themselves.

As usual, thanks ahead of time to this amazing community for always being there to help!

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My suggestion is to definitely start giving more emphasis to grammar, and eventually to reading. With almost lv. 30 in Wanikani you definitely have more than enough kanji knowledge to get through most beginner grammar books. Also, there’s the law of diminshing returns: the further you get in WaniKani, the more rare the kanji you learn, and thus the less useful. Learning grammar on the other hand, will definitely expand your japanese abilities in a more noticeable way.

Since you have a limited amount of time, this will eventually come to balancing time between Wanikani and grammar. To do this in a smooth way, my suggestion is to start reducing the number of lessons you take in Wanikani; in a couple of weeks that will start reducing the number of daily reviews, leaving you more time to tackle grammar.

How many lessons you want to take will depend on how much free time you have, but a common rule of thumb is to aim for a specific number of apprentice items, since they are the ones that appear more often. You will have to do some trial and error here, but basically you aim for an specific number of apprentice items. For example, you decide never to take more lessons while the number of apprentice items is above 75 or 100. If you still feel you are getting too many reviews, you can further reduce the number.

It can also help to always take a specific number of lessons per day. Users going at full speed need to take 20-25 lessons per day, so you can aim for a more reasonable number like 10 or 15 (or even 5, if you don’t have much time). The advantage of always taking the same number of lessons, is that this makes your reviews more consistent and you won’t get weird spikes of big number of reviews that will affect your grammar studying routine.

If you are enjoying the SRS system in WK and you feel it is helpful, an option you can try is BunPro. This grammar site has a feature called “Paths” where it will teach you grammar points alongside your textbook of choice (A Genki path is included). It uses SRS to periodically help you review your grammar points and cement them in memory. However, it is not a free resource. They do give you a free trial for 30 days, though.

Another bonus is that it integrates with WK so the example sentences they show you will hide furigana for Kanji you already learned in WK, and it helps practice a bit of Kanji that way too. Just be careful not to take too many BunPro lessons at once too, or you might overwhelm yourself with two simultaneous SRSs.

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Thank you so much for the advice! Finding a happy medium has been pretty difficult, so I foresee a lot of trial and error heading my way. I’ve recently started trying to balance my lessons more because I know I’m woefully behind in starting on my grammar. I suppose the concept is quite scary to me considering it’s just myself studying with no help haha.

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While your gf bought you Genki which you can use when you have time to sit down, I would recommend Human Japanese (Available as phone apps for about $10), Tae Kim (Available in browser and phone apps for free), and Wasabi Grammar Reference (Available on their website and on the Kindle for around $10). All have options to be used offline on the go.

Human Japanese reads like someone walking through different aspects of Japanese filled with little stories along the way. Its a light read, and I would assume even more so for a law student, so you can read chapters when you have bits of time here and there. Its ordering of material is similar to Genki so reading HJ ahead of Genki may give you a hand with the denser approach of a uni textbook.

TK and Wasabi should both be very accessible for you since youre already at a decent WK level.

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I found the genki format to be very accessible. My method was to first study the vocabulary of a chapter (the specially marked vocab appear in that chapter’s story), then I would read the story, read the translation, and listen to the story audio. I mention the order because the book itself opens up with a story, then vocabulary, followed by grammar and exercises. After the vocab and story, the grammar is presented in a simple way for the most part.

If you want/have time for more practice than the lesson book offers, there are workbooks as well. Im actually using bunpro now to review the grammar I have forgotten after finishing workbooks and not practicing grammar…

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Even though I like the book, I’ve struggled with the order and pacing of doing lessons in Genki, partially for the reasons you’ve mentioned. About how long would you take for the vocabulary before jumping into the chapters? And how long would you take for each chapter?

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You can prioritize the textbook over wk.

I started Genki II with a tutor but decided to move through it faster on my own (because I’m bad at grammar, so I need the head start in order to waste less time in lessons). Now I’m trying to do the same with Tobira, and like you I’m short on free time. So far I’ve found it easier to go through the books a little bit every day rather than cram big chunks in one go!

If you can set aside 15 minutes a day, that’s enough to read one dialogue, or study one grammar point, or do one exercise. And doing that you could finish a chapter in a couple of weeks or so.

Manage your WK time as suggested by @2OC3aOdKgwSGlxfz already, and you’ll be sweet. Don’t bother trying to memorize everything in Genki – focus on understanding how the different grammar points work, and see the dialogues and examples building on each other over the course of the book :slight_smile: I skipped memorizing the vocab completely (just read through the lists then referred back to them as needed), but some of it stuck anyway :woman_shrugging:

If you feel like exercises help you understand the grammar, do them – but don’t feel like you have to do them all. Bunpro can also be helpful if you like that sort of thing.

Come back to the book, and/or cross reference with other resources as suggested already by @SoraR when you’re having trouble with stuff.

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I would do a chapter per week. Normally I would first spend two days on the vocab, reviewing a couple of times each day for good measure. Then I would read the story next day and again a short review of the vocab. Next two days I would go over the grammar and again review vocab. Last two days I would do the exercises. I think that would be sufficient for a weekly study program of the textbook. An hour or two a day should be enough.

I also went over the story once more after studying the grammar, to find the usage of the current lesson’s grammar in the story. If I recall correctly, the story uses as much of the current chapter’s grammar as possible.

Id also like to add that the stories of Genki I and Genki II are all somewhat linked, chapter by chapter. Without spoiling too much, they were the story of an exchange student to Japan, and their daily life with friends and the exchange family. I found them pretty enjoyable, for what a simple story it was overall.

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i like lingodeer- genki approach.
Lingodeer 1-2 is a great app that cover all jlpt 5-4 grammar. Each lesson present new grammar, they are coherent, short and can be studied on the go.
Honestly this app is nuff for basic grammar. But if i happen to forget something, i just look at genki for reference experience. Its also much more easy to go through the book after you studied a couple of lessons in the app

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First off, thanks for taking the time to help out! I’m curious how you went about using Human Japanese. This is the first I’ve heard of it and I’'m definitely going to look into it, so I was curious if you used Genki AND HJ, or just HJ?

Totally random, but your story audio came on a CD, right? Do you have any recommendations for the best way to listen? CD players aren’t really something I have lying around so I’m wondering if it might be worth the investment.

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I downloaded the files from the cd onto my pc, then put them on my phone via a drive.

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After I found HJ, I just used HJ (+HJ Intermediate) then supplemented with grammar references (Tae Kim and A Dictionary of Beginner Japanese). At that time I hadn’t yet discovered the Wasabi website but knowing what I know now my recommended combo would definitely be HJ + Wasabi Japanese Grammar Reference.

  • HJ “Intermediate” is a bit of a misnomer since in terms of grammar points it only covers up to somewhere between N5 and N4 with N4 generally considered to be the end of classroom level and beginner Japanese. HJ’s strengths lie elsewhere though. One example is the interactive interface for example sentences which has romaji and the translation hidden by default, native audio, and a feature that shows the breakdown of the sentence.

  • One example of why I like Wasabi is that it immediately distinguishes between casual, polite (colloquial), and polite and addresses some nuances in the first section of the first chapter. This may seem like a small thing but I promise that it has a strong ripple effect on understanding Japanese grammatical structure as you progress.