How would I use Minna No Nihongo

After starting WaniKani, I decided to rummage through some old Japanese stuff from when i started my journey (around 10 months ago) and found Minna No Nihongo 1 so i want to use it!
Does anyone know how to use it properly or should I just move over to Genki?


Personally, I’ve not used Minna no Nihongo, but I believe there’s a translation book with it as well; do you have that? Genki seems to have the lower barrier to entry, being entirely in English, but there are benefits to learning with a lot of Japanese if you’re up for it!

I remembered a post from a few months ago where @fallynleaf talked about how they personally used the book, which might be of some use to you? Question about Genki and Minna no nihongo - #10 by fallynleaf


yes! I have the translation book also thanks i’ll look into the link do you have any other tips?

1 Like

I am currently using Minna no Nihongo, yes! I’m finishing up lesson 17 (out of 50) currently, and I’ve been using the textbook since I believe March, and have already been able to apply the stuff I’m learning in the book to reading manga and other Japanese in native media, so it’s definitely possible to successfully use it for self-study, I think.

Thanks for finding and linking my previous post, @Daisoujou! I still stand by all of the advice I gave there. That remains my main strategy for proceeding through the textbook.

The most important advice I can give is to learn the vocab before attempting to read the lesson. If SRS works well for you, Anki is a great program to use for this, since it’s free and infinitely customizable. If you do this, the book becomes much easier to just sit and read with near 100% comprehension, since you only have to worry about figuring out the grammar and not trying to struggle with new grammar and unknown vocab at the same time.

Some of the grammar explanations in MNN can be a little confusing, especially the verb forms, so if you get stuck, I recommend looking up the same grammar point somewhere else. Japanese Ammo with Misa is my favorite grammar resource so far because her explanations are really clear and in-depth, and she talks about natural usage in addition to more formal language. Her videos were especially helpful for explaining the て-form to me, months before I got there in MNN, haha!

I also have been building a spreadsheet with all of the kanji introduced in the MNN vocab lessons matched up with their WK level. It only covers the first 17 lessons so far, but it’s a work in progress, haha! As you can see, there is very little correlation between MNN lesson number and WK level, so you might as well dive into the textbook pretty early without trying to wait until you’ve learned all the kanji.

This spreadsheet is a useful resource for me because I’ll look up the new kanji on WK while I’m learning the MNN vocab, and I’ll use the kanji info pages to help me learn how to write the kanji (I have a stroke order userscript installed), as well as utilizing WK’s mnemonics and the Keisei semantic-phonetic composition userscript to help remember the kanji readings. This level of study probably isn’t strictly necessary, but I have better luck with it than just rote memorization, so for me, it’s worth putting a little extra time into this.

MNN is definitely more intimidating than Genki, so if you get too frustrated with it, you could try Genki instead, but I think the reading practice it gives you is extremely helpful, and the book is very good at teaching you how to think in Japanese instead of constantly trying to work through translation. I’ve heard that the MNN exercises are better than Genki’s at drilling the new grammar points (and unlike Genki, they’re not designed around pair work), and from my own experience at least, I haven’t had any problems completing them.

If you have any questions, I can try my best to answer them! My study log also has a lot of me rambling about the process of going through each lesson, and the different strategies I’ve tried. It has a lot of me rambling about other topics, too, though :sweat_smile:.


I can’t say much more on the subject of Minna no Nihongo itself, but if you want more general tips, here are a couple things I think are important when you’re just starting out with a grammar resource –

It’s important to find something you’ll stick with… but only if you’re seeing some degree of results. This stuff is really hard starting out from a base of English, so you shouldn’t expect to truly “know” any of the stuff the books give you some familiarity with. They’re just setting you up with the groundwork to truly acquire the grammar later. Some people never advance because they spend too much time looking into or changing resources. But at the same time, if you give something your best and find that it’s really just not working for you at all, every method is a little different, and you need to be willing to make the change if (and only if) you think you’re getting nothing from what you’ve already committed to using. Or if you find you can’t stand it anymore, heh. Motivation and not burning out are super critical, too.

Make efforts to start reading and listening to Japanese outside the books whenever possible. When it’s all you can handle, constructed textbook texts are fine, but everything you are doing is just preparation to really learn the language elsewhere. I found real texts totally unapproachable until near the end of Genki 2 personally, roughly N4 (which I think is where MNN goes, too?). Even then, I got some use out of simple graded readers like the Tadoku ones and beginner Youtube channels like Comprehensible Japanese. Some people want to use natural native material only, but I think easing in did me a lot of good, personally.

Hey a little Japanese wrestling education on the side is just a bonus benefit!

1 Like

Definitely seconding this! I have two friends right now who are both struggling because they’re unable to commit to one resource or strategy. I’ve already outpaced one of them, despite going much slower than they were, just because I’ve been committed to studying and have managed to make consistent, daily progress.

And I should warn you that textbook study can be hard! Not so much the difficulty of the material, but the difficulty of the motivation. For some people, textbooks just don’t work because it can be hard to motivate yourself to read material that is dry and uninteresting. I don’t have a problem with this with MNN personally because I find it really satisfying when I’m able to effortlessly understand something (I get this feeling only rarely with native media so far, haha!), but for other people, that feeling isn’t enough. If you find out that textbook study isn’t for you, that’s okay, too. There are other alternatives.

Oh, another tip I’ve learned with MNN: it helps to break down each lesson into concrete steps, and then focus on making some progress on whatever step you happen to be on every day. Some days this might mean just doing vocab SRS and nothing else. Other days it might mean completing some exercises in addition to keeping up with your vocab flash cards, or reading the grammar info, or taking notes on the chapter, or etc. I think the biggest enemy of motivation is losing steam with it, so you want to make it into a daily habit as much as possible, even if that’s only spending a little time each day.

1 Like

If you have, or think you may have, plans on studying Japanese at a language school in Japan, I’d choose Minna. It’s effectively the standard used in schools in Japan because it has the main grammar book and then a second book with translations into dozens languages explaining main book concepts. This allows language schools to put students who don’t understand each other in the same classroom. Give the Brazilian student the Portuguese translation and the UK student the English translation and you are good to go. So if you study the Minna book you will be ahead of the game in Japan.

If you don’t have plans to study in Japan, I’d go with Genki as I think it’s easier all around for English speaking students.

I have been using Minna No Nihongo for the past 6 months and I am now in the process of reviewing previous units using the 復習 sections.
However, I haven’t been taking notes on the grammar concepts while studying, just doing the exercises and moving on. Have you been using a specific format for your Minna no Nihongo notes?
Also, do you know of any other resources for exercises on the specific concepts introduced in Minna no Nihongo?

I don’t know how helpful my advice is, because I feel like catching up on a bunch of chapters would take you so much time if you did it this way, but here’s how I’m doing it: at the end of every chapter, I’ll go back through the grammar section and add the info to a (physical) notebook I’m keeping. It’s roughly organized by related grammar points (each particle gets its own page, までに and まで are near each other, etc.), but obviously it’s impossible to plan this perfectly if you’re just writing as you go and have limited space on the page, so it’s not perfect at all :sweat_smile:.

I’ve seen multiple benefits from doing this. For one thing, it’s a way to do an in-depth review of the grammar points before moving on, and it’s also a good way to consolidate your new knowledge with your old knowledge because you have to look back through your notes to find a good place to add it. Usually I find that I understand the grammar a lot more thoroughly after having done all the exercises and such, so I get more out of the grammar explanation reading it a second time.

I don’t actually reference my notes that much because for the most part, the process of taking them is enough to cement the concepts in my mind. But on the few occasions that I have gone back through them, I’ve found it much easier to find stuff the way my notes are organized in comparison to the textbook.

Do you have any of the workbooks? I have two of them, and I find that they give me more than enough additional exercises. I’ve heard that Bunpro also has a MNN path, though I don’t know exactly how well it integrates with the textbook, or how well it sticks to the MNN vocab. I don’t use Bunpro myself.

Here’s a good way to go through MnN.

  • Attempt to read the sample sentences in the first page of the Unit.
  • Read/Scan the Vocabulary list in the Grammar/Translation book.
  • Listen to the sample conversation, but don’t worry about it. (You can skip this)
  • Read each Grammar Point in the main book Unit. Then double check with the Grammar Translation book. And then go back to the main book.
  • Try the practice exercises. Rip out the Answer Key/Transcript mini-book at the back of the book and use it as a resource to check your answers. Check the Vocabulary page again as you encounter unknown words.
  • Go back and listen to the Conversations as often as possible/as often as you’d like.
1 Like

Rip out the Answer Key/Transcript mini-book at the back of the book

Thank you for this tip, so glad I found it. The answer key partially detached itself some time ago and has been annoying me since. Now that I ripped it out it’s much easier to use :smiling_face:

1 Like