How to study with Genki 1? A proposal for discussion

As mentioned in my study log, I want to take as much out of my Genki 1 book as I can, with main focus on everything but Kanji (because WaniKani is probably the better solution for this). I looked up how others tackled the Genki books (not much here and on the web, but a couple of YouTubers had some ideas they shared), and I read the Introduction to get an idea of what the structure and intention of the book is. I also found a Json for the vocabulary, and counted them, and via wayback machine I could still access the Kanji table, which I used with the WaniKani Kanji Highlighter browser plugin to get a feel going over the Kanji, to see on which level they’d pop up on WaniKani.

My goal is to get as much as possible out of Genki, i.e. ideally I want to practice listening comprehension, reading, writing and speaking. I think the last one is probably the weakest; but to be able to speak, you’ll also need grammar and vocabulary, so it could at least aid a bit.

Please let me know any thoughts on this. Do you think my approach makes sense? What would you definately change and why? Did you do something similar already? What where your experiences?


Statistically we have for the text book:

  • 12 Lessons, each having 2 sections:
    • “Conversation & Grammar” (the front part)
    • “Reading & Writing” (the back part).

“Conversation & Grammar” will consist of:

  • Dialogues:
    • 2 per lesson
    • recordings
    • Transcripts (with Romanji for Lessons 1+2, and Furigana for all Kanji from Lesson 3)
  • Vocabulary:
    • For Dialogue + all exercises
    • with recordings!
    • min: 43 words
    • max: 63 words
    • avg: 50 words per lesson
  • Grammar
    • Multiple grammar points per lesson; each has its own chapter
    • min: 3 points
    • max: 8 points
    • avg: 6 points per lesson.
  • Practice:
    • Multiple exercises for each grammar point
    • Review Exercise at the end, that includes all grammar points of the lesson
  • Cultural notes: English text, sometimes with new vocab that is not used anywhere else in the book, does not have recordings and is not part of the vocab list
  • Useful Expressions: New vocab / typical sentences that are not used anywhere else in the book, does not have recordings and is not part of the vocab list.

“Reading & Writing” will consist of:

  • Kanji:
    • min: 14, max: 16; avg: 15 Kanji per lesson
    • most important kun-yomi + on-yomi reading, plus suggestion which of these to learn
    • different vocabulary compounds as example, plus suggestion which of these to learn
  • Recognizing/Reconstructing/Combining Kanji exercises
  • Reading exercise
    • audio recording
    • comprehension questions to anser
  • Writing exercise
    • putting everything (vocab, grammar, Kanji) into practice on a creative writing exercise

Besides this we have the work book, which has 1 page of exercises per grammar point, a trace sheet for writing Kanji and two Kanji exercises: A all Kana collection of sentences where you need to replace some of the Kana with the Kanji, and a collection of English sentences that you are to translate into Japanese (using of course Kanji and Kana).


My working plan proposal:

Additional tools:

Schedule:
Every lesson should take approximately one week - in this week I’ll work through the chapters in the way they are presented, but have them overlapped with vocab learning and the exercises, so that there is approximately one additional week. This will allow you to finish the book in 13 weeks, i.e. 3 months (plus whatever you need to remember and recall the last lessons) → JLPT N5 in less than half a year? Seems a bit too good to be true, lets see how it goes.

Given a lesson with X grammar points and the maximum of 60 vocabs and 15 Kanji, this is what the week would look like:

Day 1: Dialogue
Goal is to activate the brain, and try to make as much sense and connections before learning the vocab and grammar and/or translation. Also: train listening comprehension as well as reading. Therefore I’ll do the following:

  • Listen to the dialogue (1-3 times) and try to make sense of what I hear → Listening comprehension
    • What can I already understand (prior knowledge)
    • What of the unknown can I deduce the meaning of, due to known vocab and grammar, voices, intonation, emotions?
    • What could be the topic, what could be the grammar points?
  • Listen and read the dialogue along (1-3 times) → Reading practice + pronunciation.
  • Read the dialogue aloud (1-3 times) → Reading practice + pronunciation practice.
  • Read the dialogue alongside the translation → deduce additional things like new grammar structures, unknown vocabs, etc. with the translation alongside.

Day 1 - 6: Vocabulary
Only after reading the Dialogue will I approach the Vocabulary list, and here the goal is to learn 10 new items a day. That should give us an average 5 days to work through the list of vocabulary. Vocabulary will go into Anki and ideally it will not be Word <–> Translation, but rather “Sentence with gap” + some visual cues. I follow the idea of Gabriel Wyner, to not use direct translations, and to make the flash cards as personal as possible. So I won’t be using any pre-made decks, but rather make them my own. It’s partly explained here (there used to be more in-depth articles, but I cannot find them anymore; Wyner now has his own company but developed this idea using Anki - and there are a lot of useful plugins and video tutorials on YouTube you can still follow, without needing to use [and pay for] his new software). Being creative with the card creation will already go a long way in remembering the word. And - really important - link the audio files to cards to always have them as well.

Day 1 - 7: Kanji?!
This one I am not totally sure of, yet. Genki provides Kanji, but without radicals to help you recognize and (de/re)construct them, without mnemonic and of course with all readings at once and a couple of vocabulary as well. I was toying with the idea of adding them into Anki as well, but am worried that slightly different meanings or focus on other readings could mess up my WaniKani progress. Another possibility would be to just focus on the writing. Going through what I already know with finishing Level 3 on WaniKani, there probably isn’t much to learn anyways: For lesson 3 (the first with Kanji) I know all 15 but 2. For lesson 4 it’s 2 out of 14, for lesson 4 and 6 it is both 4 out of 14 and 15. Only at lesson 6 the count rises (7 out of 15 unknown) and from 8 on-wards it is flipped - I know 2-4 out of 14-16 Kanji. Until then I might have caught up with WaniKani - I feel like 80% of the Kanji is covered by level 10 of WaniKani, and by level 15 it’s probably somewhere around 95%. Highest Kanji I could find is on level 35 on WaniKani.

If I did do Kanji or if I wouldn’t do WaniKani, I’d probably start learning 2-3 of them every day (make it fit the week so you get them ready when starting the reading/writing), with all readings and meanings that Genki suggest you should remember. I’d add them to Anki with stroke order, composition, mnemonics and images, rather than translations - and again: Make it personal.

Day 2 - X: Grammar
After the first day of dialogue follows grammar. One grammar point per day. Read the explanation, try to find the usage in the dialogue, read the example sentences. If not clear, research additional sources (e.g. Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide, Tofugu, etc.). Turn example sentences into Anki cards for SRS

Day 3 - X+1: Textbook exercises
Starting with day 3 I have my first grammar point “learned” and am able to use it in exercises - this is a SRS measurement, i.e. by delaying the usage from the time I read and hopefully memorized and internalized the concept with help of the explanation, the sentences and the creation of Anki cards (and reviews). So I start using it on the exercises and hopefully don’t need any help and do them all 100% 正しい。
And of course until X is not reached, I also do a new grammar point.

Day 4 - X+2: Seth Clydesdale’s exercises
Starting with day 4 I have my first grammar point “learned” and reviewed once with exercises. So this is the second review with additional exercises from Seth Clydesdale’s site which is a great addition for additional exercises.

Day X+1: Textbook Review exercises
After finishing all grammar points, this Review exercise should further test and strengthen our Grammar knowledge of the lesson.

Day X+1: Kanji + Reading Exercises
We have hopefully finished all vocab and kanji at this point. They mustn’t be perfect knowledge yet but we have some familiarity and can start the Kanji exercises as well as the reading exercise.

For the reading exercise: There is a audio recording available as well - however hearing it first probably defeats the purpose of having some reading practice. Therefore I’ll do the following instead:

  • Read the text quietly. Make sure I understand everything. If I really have to, look things up.
  • Read the text aloud, and record myself while doing it.
  • Listen to the audio and compare it to my recording. Take note of any miss-pronounciations and practice them

Day X+2: Writing exercise → Should probably be Day 7 (on average)
Do the writing exercise.

Day 8 - 8+X: Next lesson → Workbook Exercises
With start of the next lesson, start doing the workbook exercises, one by one, from the previous week, as another SRS mechanism.


A typical session on a random day:
As you have already concluded, a typical day will consist of multiple parts - and I’ll probably start with them this order:

  1. Reviews:
    • All in Anki, for Grammar and Vocab
  2. Exercises:
    • Workbook exercises for last weeks items
    • Seth Clydesdale’s exercises for the ere-yesterday’s items
    • Textbook exercises for yesterdays items
    • Review exercises at the end of a lesson
  3. Learning current Item:
    • Could be Dialogue…
    • … or grammar work
    • … or reading exercise
    • … or writing exercise
    • and always 10 new vocabulary items (unless all items learned for current lesson - don’t skip ahead here!)
    • and maybe 2 Kanji
  4. Preparing current items for spaced repetition:
    • None for dialogue
    • Example sentences utilizing grammar points
    • Maybe Kanji
    • (Sentences with) new vocabulary
    • Maybe content form Culture Note
    • Maybe content from Useful Expressions.

Open Questions

  1. I am not yet sure of the time it’ll take each day. My estimation is that it’s probably an hour of intensive work with the book (both for reading + exercises + preparing stuff for Anki), and maybe some spare time to do Anki reviews - this doesn’t need to happen consecutively.

  2. What to do with Kanji?

  3. How to make useful cards with images and no translations for words like あの、いま、そうですか (just 3 examples of the first lesson).

  4. Is there a good source to get example sentences for vocabulary? Could help with the creation of cards.

  5. How to make useful cards containing the concepts of a grammar point in a sentence + picture without using the grammar explanation? Something like XはYです。noun1のnoun2, etc.?

  6. Maybe is using both Anki and exercises as SRS tool redundant? Does it make sense to have the grammar concept pop up as Anki card on the review and then again as exercise? Maybe move the exercises further away?

  7. What to do, if the exercises totally fail, i.e. I did not remember the rules, or misunderstood the grammar point?

  8. My initial feeling was that textbook exercises are easier than workbook exercises. So I wanted the later for the weekly repetition. Then I added Seth Clydesdale’s exercises to the mix. I am not sure if they fit better in-between or if I should switch the order around and have those as the last exercise a week later… Any suggestions? Otherwise I’ll try and see…

  9. Same for the Review exercise. This could also come one week later. Or after the reading/writing.

  10. Kanji, Reading and Writing exercises could probably also be done on the same day? Writing might however take time, so maybe it’s better this way. Also, it can serve as another SRS mechanism - most writing exercises seem to shadow the reading exercise (i.e. “Read a diary entry” → “Write your own diary entry”). Having to recall this might be a good idea.

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If you’re a fan of his style, TokiniAndy’s videos are Genki-centric for the beginner levels (covering Genki I and II 3rd editions)

【N5】Genki 1 Lesson 1 Grammar Made Clear | XはYです・Question か・の Particle - YouTube

Kanshudo is a site that offers grammar/vocab/kanji lessons & exercises, and you can sort those by companion resource (Genki, Minna no Nihongo, Kanji in Context and others).

Genki Textbook Companion - Kanshudo

BunPro is a grammar SRS that you can also order by textbook companion path (Genki and Minna, although I’m just noticing it’s based on Genki 2nd edition).

Genki I 2nd Edition Path - Japanese Grammar Explained | Bunpro

Don’t forgot to download the OTO Navi app! This is the official companion app released by The Japan Times for Genki.

Those are all great places to help get more out of your texbooks.

As far as breaking down your days - that is personally beneficial and should be oriented around your free time and the types of study/production practice/immersion that benefit you. It’s good to plan it all out, type it all out, and keep it somewhere that you can hold yourself accountable, like a study log post. Just keep in mind, that schedule will be largely customized for you, and other people would likely make many changes to adopt it for themselves.

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Thank you for your thoughts and additional resources - it’s highly appreciated! I actually didn’t know any of these, so really helpful. I’ll check them out and try to incorporate them into my learning plan if they appear helpful to me :slight_smile:

This is the only resource I stumbled upon when searching about how to work with Genki, and he has a video on it, but makes so much advertisement for his payed content (on every aspect he mentioned), that I was rather annoyed. That video could have been at least half the lenght if you had cut all of that out. But I’ll for sure give it a try - maybe his regular videos are much better?

Yes, for sure - we are all different in the ways we can learn, in the things that interests us while learning Japanese and in the time and effort we want to put into this, as well as the goals we want to achieve. Still I always find it a good starting point to see what others do, to get inspired by the things others have tried out, and to learn from their experience. Sometimes, hearing someone “badmouthing” things that I believe work for me, make me believe in them much more (because I can find counter arguments on every point they make), and sometimes it’s the opposite and it’ll make me think and see all the flaws. Same for the positive approach. That’s why I called this thread “proposal” - this is not for everyone, it’s not perfect, it’s not the one true way to do things. But maybe someone will find any one thing helpful - either because they can incorporate it, or because they see all the flaws in it and by that know what they never want to do :smiley: If just one other person finds this helpful, it was worth writing down. And if not: I needed some written account for myself anyways - to have a plan and to compare myself against this plan.

I’ll keep you posted on how it works out, in the end - changes to the plan I’ll post in this thread - my private progress you’ll find here.

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I do like the idea of doing different tasks on different days. It somewhat models bodybuilding, but for the brain. I usually just do some SRS + a random thing that I’m in the mood to do (me and schedules don’t get along so well). I’ll be more motivated to study the thing I’m actually interested in at the time. I have tons of books so I usually pick one that I’ve been eyeing and work through it. That probably achieves close to the same thing as a schedule with assigned tasks. Maybe I’ll start throwing that out as advice: Japanese study should be consistent week-to-week, but the day-to-day doesn’t need to be regimented (unless you have a personality type that requires that).

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It’s a great idea to make a concrete plan, and it’s good that yours is well-rounded! My main concern is that this is quite a lot of work to do every day.

I’m going about twice as slow as this with Minna no Nihongo (each lesson takes me closer to two weeks rather than one), which has a similar number of grammar points and vocab words per chapter (I’m not sure how the exercises correlate? I have the main textbook plus two workbooks, so maybe it’s also a similar amount). And I’ve been able to keep up the pace, but absolutely would not have been able to keep up a faster one if I’d tried.

Just make sure that you don’t overdo it with Anki and WK at the same time. Juggling two SRS can be a little tricky, and this will give you a fairly heavy Anki load on top of your WK reviews. Some people can handle it, but for many others, it’s a great way to burn yourself out. It’s okay if you try this out and end up needing to step back a little and take things a bit slower. In the grand scheme of things, spending 6 months on Genki 1 instead of 3 months doesn’t really hurt.

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Thanks for your feedback, you too! :slight_smile:

That’s good advice. To be honest, I used to be one of those guys who was highly motivated by streaks. However this was also really demotivating, because once you break a streak you feel you failed and then end up being so demotivated that it could lead to falling of the wagon.

This was something I had to work on, but I managed to follow your advice. There are simply situations that will not allow me to keep up the daily regime - and that’s okey. Still I love daily consistency, because for me it’s easier to keep and be consistent with, then let’s say “learning every mondey, wednesday and saturday”.

This could most definitely be the case, yes. This is also my biggest concern. I’ll have to try it out, and see how it will play out in the end. Maybe I’ll have to alternate between one day doing vocab work then one day textbook work, or something. But for now it seems doable - grammar points are rather small (half to one page). If I am not mistaken Minna no Nihongo is much more difficult than Genki? I have this book on my list for after doing Genki 1 (and maybe Genki 2) :smiley:

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I wouldn’t bother with doing both MNN and Genki, personally. There’s a lot of overlap, and both will more or less get you to the same place, which is getting you to the low intermediate level (MNN will just put you slightly ahead, but not enough that it substantially matters).

MNN is harder in some ways than Genki, but also easier in others, from what I’ve heard from other people. I’ve only done MNN, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it’s extremely doable. I’m working through it with a pretty similar process to the one you’ve laid out here for Genki, though mine is a little more linear, I think, and also uses fewer resources, haha. I just SRS the vocab, then read the lesson, and do all of the exercises and workbooks for that chapter before moving on.

I will say, I’m not sure it matters to put quite so much effort into your vocab flash cards, with like example sentences and all of that. You should get plenty of practice seeing the words in context during your textbook. Or at least, that’s the case with MNN for me. The one-word English glosses are totally fine for me to familiarize myself with the vocab enough that the textbook sentences are fully comprehensible to me.

I personally think example sentences are way more useful if you’re SRS-ing mined vocab from native media, and you pull the exact sentence you encountered the word in. I do recommend having audio for the vocab, though. But just be aware that having to create individual custom cards for every single vocab word in the textbook will add a lot of time.

As a beginner, it will also take a lot more energy for you to go through flash cards that are entirely in Japanese, because your stamina for reading will be lower. I’m sure there are benefits to the custom cards, but there are also benefits to making the beginner level as painless as possible to get through. Things will just take a lot more work as a beginner. If it ends up being too much for you, don’t feel bad if you end up deciding to just go with what’s in Genki’s glossary. You’ll have more opportunities at the intermediate level to create flash cards without any English in them.

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They’re pretty comparable. The main difference is that MNN seems more difficult because it’s almost entirely written in Japanese. There is a translation book, but even that is only needed up to a certain point.

I favor MNN of the two because of the plethora of add-on books it has. If you take full advantage of everything that both have to offer, MNN pulls ahead by a decent margin, assuming you’re willing to pay a premium to get the add-on books (I believe there are something like 15 add-on books, not counting the main textbooks, the translation books and the Miller-san storybooks). That said, Genki is not going to leave you sorely lacking. What Genki doesn’t cover or glosses over you can easily fill in the gaps with YT videos, BunPro, WK, KameSama, and/or a JLPT book.

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I’ve got one of them and it’s good beginning reading practice even if you’re not doing MNN.

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