How good is Genki for Grammar?

I am a 4th year Japanese student in my senior year of high school and I started using WaniKani so I could really expand my ability to speak Japanese. Throughout the 3.25 years of Japanese class that I have endured, we’ve really only used Genki 1, and it has quite a limited vocabulary when it comes to everyday sentences if you’re trying to NOT speak like a tourist. My 4th year class is a little weird in that it’s a combination of 3rd year and 4th year students, so we have to start the year bumped back a few chapters to chapter 6 of Genki 1 (our class moves INCREDIBLY slow in my opinion) regardless, I’ve taken it into my own hands to crank out Ch. 12 of Genki 1 and get through Genki 2 before I graduate next summer.
For my Japanese skills, my goals are really indefinite. I’m hoping WaniKani and Genki will work in conjunction enough to make me speak, read, and listen to most conversation and media coherently by the end of this school year. I know I’m not going to come out of this year close to getting N1, but I wanted to know, from those that are really fluent in Japanese and are familiar with the Genki textbooks, how much of Japanese grammar does Genki in total cover? and how proficient of a speaker (JLPT score or personal reference to other speakers) do you become after finishing both Genki textbooks? Thank you very much! :pineapple:

Hi. I just finished Genki 1 and 2 with a Japanese tutor and I also gave multiple sample N4 exams provided by the coaching institute.
Also, GG on choosing WK. I have been using it along with Genki and I have had an amzing experience till now.

According to my teacher (and myself after giving the exams), Genki 1 and 2 does not cover all the required grammar for N4. For example, ように、ところ、ばかり、らしい、にる、のって、ために are very important grammar points that genki does not cover but comes often in the N4 exam. (Believe me there are more). My teacher did mention that these are also explained in N3 level textbooks. (I havent read myself. But he taught me the above grammar from Sou Matome N3 grammar)

For reference, My score in a sample N4 exam post Genki 2 was 60ish and after a week of covering all the remaining grammar, my score was around 80.

I feel Genki 1 and 2 is around N4.5 at best. My sensei suggested Minna no Nihongo book 1 and 2 for revision as it covers more than what Genki does. I skimmed through chapters and did find more info than any genki chapter. Tons of examples to practice. But it does not explain as well as genki IMO. Only short explanations are provided on the translation book. (But this is ok for me Since I completed Genki).

So I suggest you give Minna No Nihongo and its grammar/translation book a try. If you don’t like the explanations provided, You can still learn the remaining grammar post Genki 2 through the internet (Here is a link(imabi) that was suggested by another WK user when I was facing some trouble with Genki) or practicing N4 sample papers or even an N4-N5 sample questions book like this.

As you have been studying Japanese for 4 years I am not sure how useful you will find Genki since both Genki 1 and 2 contain beginner’s grammar. Wanikani is great for kanji and vocab but the vocab taught here is more for the sake of learning different readings and they are not always common or naturally used so it may be a good idea to use something seperate for vocab in addition to Wanikani

Also if I’m not mistaken Genki 1 will get you roughly through n5 grammar and Genki 2 through n4 but I could be wrong

Wow, over 3 years of Genki 1?! I thought even in a school setting, you should be able to cover that book in half a year.

To be frank, I think this is an extremely optimistic goal. Genki 1 and 2 will only get you the tip of the iceberg, probably you could pass N4 with some additional study. That’s nowhere near understanding most media coherently. You definitely need to get out there and start listening/reading to real Japanese. Most of the learning happens outside of the classroom.

WK is first and foremost a kanji learning tool. It will not really help with speaking, and you will need to couple it with a lot of reading. You’ll also need a lot more vocab than it has to offer.


From what I’ve heard, re: testing, it would get you to around N4.
As far as speaking proficiency, that probably depends on how much you’re actually speaking and using the grammar correctly to develop your fluency and accuracy. And conversational skills require Active Listening in order to get you conversational.

Anyways, doesn’t The Japan Times also have a follow-up to Genki called An Intermediate Approach to Japanese…? I’ve yet to figure out exactly this book correlates to Genki, but I’d imagine that the design would be a good next step if you enjoy and feel comfortable with the Genki books.

Anyways, you might as well talk to your teacher about what he/she would recommend. I’m guessing the nature of your current class (combined 3/4) is due to state/government bureaucracy, funding, staff, and other factors that may not be geared toward meeting your individual needs. If you approach your teacher with an honest and humble attitude, you might be able to get some good feedback about how to succeed in your current class AND grow in your language skills as you keep going and reach higher goals.

(I’m not fluent in Japanese. But as a professional language educator and as someone who has worked in high schools and seen some of the behind-the-scenes silliness, I recognize your situation. Also, please make that you truly have internalized and are able to use what you’ve already learned.)

Cover? Maybe yes. Actually get high school kids to master it in their usage and productive language and not just slow recognition and passive understanding? No. This is me speaking as someone who has seen English language learners take an absurd amount of time to acquire beginning/elementary level material before even just beginning to dive into intermediate material.

3 years seems like a long time, for certain, but a good curriculum would likely take a bit longer than half a year to get students actually mastering the material rather than just “covering” it. And it depends on the goals/standards for each course.

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But that is not the point of Genki 1, nor is it capable to give that kind of proficiency. You need to dive into more advanced and native resources; reading a basic textbook for more than half a year is a beginner trap. And a killjoy for most. The point of beginner textbooks is just to lay a groundwork for language acquisition.

This is just my opinion, but trying to “master” basic Genki grammar is poor use of your time. A lot of it will not make sense until you are more advanced and have gotten a lot of exposure. Moving faster get’s you to native content faster, and that is what matters. You can’t “master” the basics as a beginner. Unfortunately this the easy way for schools to test you, so that is the way languages are taught in school.


This is so well stated. The best advice I got was to do the basics, but only as a way to get to the more valuable intermediate material. Learn it and move on. Don’t waste time trying to master it.


Yeah, that’s really slow. My university level courses used Genki I and II, and covered each book in the 100 and 200 level courses respectively (so essentially a book per academic term). I even felt that was a slow pace, so I can’t imagine hanging out in the first book for three years!

I agree with others that this is a really great time for you to expand outside of the Genki books if you can manage to while also keeping up with your assigned work. You’re young enough that your brain is still soaking up data, so take advantage of that and try to really immerse yourself as much as possible in current media if you want to pick up more natural speaking patterns and practice listening. I can say for certain that I picked up the most Japanese vocabulary when I was in middle school and high school and just listening to Japanese television, anime, and music constantly.

Good luck!


Yeah my university also uses Genki 1 and 2 and each is completed in one year (3 quarters for Genki 1, 3 quarters for Genki 2). I understand that high school does tend to move slower, but 3 years on Genki 1 is a little absurd… Especially since most high schools have about 5 hours of in-person instruction for each class every week, usually 1 hr every weekday with homework as well.
I completed Genki 1 on my own in 6-8 months (I don’t recall specifically since it has been several years…) and I also did Genki 2 in a similar amount of time. At this point I was able to pass the N4 exam. I did supplement the grammar explanations in Genki with The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar.

I have mentioned The Dictionary several times on the forums and it is truly one of the most valuable resources I have acquired in my Japanese journey. It’s great for understanding the nuances of grammar constructions and the differences between similar constructions (eg -らしい vs ーような). Another great benefit is being able to look up unfamiliar constructions while reading other Japanese content such as manga.

Genki does simplify grammar to an extent which I totally understand. The purpose is to teach basic grammar and have the student learn how to use it in various contexts. However, once you are starting to get more comfortable with the topic, it’s really valuable to get the full, detailed explanation and that’s where The Dictionary comes in.

Tofugu has a review of the whole series of The Dictionary, but I can say that even just the first one covers most of the grammar I regularly encounter.

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Wonderful! Thank you all so much for the great recommendations! ShotgunLagoon, I’ll definitely look into getting that basic dictionary of Japanese grammar and I can foresee my poor wallet taking a bit of a dip for a worthwhile investment soon enough :sweat_smile: I’m glad you all told me this now before I kept stumbling through Genki all cocky, thinking I’m so hot at grammar. And morteasd, I’ll try your method of learning all the Genki material but not paying too much mind to it, leaving me most of next semester to really pat it down through reading news and things and also really digging into the grammar dictionary. You are all a very kind and helpful community! May you all have bountiful harvests this year :ear_of_rice:


I’m so glad I was able to help!! (:

Genki is a perfectly good book for introductory grammar, but you will be only be speaking at an extremely basic level afterwards. It’s the tip of the iceberg, but it is very important to get these fundamentals down (pay close attention to passive voice, for example). I’m halfway through Tobira and still talk like a drunk child.

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