I'm giving up on textbooks

i personally think textbooks for the most part are extremely outdated. for one, there are much more interactive ways to learn (like audio explanations via nihongonomori or the CD’s you’re using). but also the way explanations are typically laid out are NOT ideal for understanding. you’re so not alone for not having a good time with textbooks. i consider myself fluent now, and i’d say literally about 95% of the japanese i know came from places other than textbooks.

the only “textbook” i can recommend is this: japanese the manga way.

as you can see its laid out much, much different from a typical textbook, and the explanations are very thorough (and easy to understand!) it uses real, classic japanese manga as the foundation for all the grammar explanations, and there are NO tiresome “exercise drills” you just read the section, use the explanation to understand the example, and go back periodically to review whatever parts you want as needed. highly recommend it in addition to what you’re doing now! best of luck :slight_smile:


Do you happen to have a source on this? (Not because I want to start a fight, but I’m genuinely curious as a teacher.)


Textbooks were made for an in-class interaction, and they pretty much end their usefulness there (to me, at least). The textbook we’re using (Marugoto) is fine and good when we’re in the class, but checking future lessons is very hard since half of the information comes from the teacher and isn’t actually there.

If it’s not working for you after all this time, just drop it. Use other resources for your lessons. Textbooks are safe, but not for everyone.


Im at work so I cant go back through and find everything Ive looked at, but if I recall correctly veritasium had a video on it recently where he didnt just use one study but a handful of them when talking about this misconception. You could check some of the sources he provides for starters, perhaps.


Here is an interesting article focusing beliefs about learning sstyles, but also has some great resources about them being debunked.


Some advice that may work for you (at least for me). You should “ALSO” do practice with the workbook that come with most textbook.
I know writing down things with japanese letter will take sometimes at first, but it worth for the long term.
Why? because it will reinforce brain & muscle memories, that either conciously or unconciously help you remember things you’ve learned. As far as i know, this is backed by scientific reason of how we learn things. Good luck :slightly_smiling_face:


I haven’t done text books either and I’m really relying on all my listening practice for grammar. Though reading certainly also helps a lot.

If you’ve been at this for 6 years, I’m sure focusing more on listening could be the way to go. It’s not as fast as formal studying, but if you have time, I see no problem with this approach. Go for it! :+1:

I have this book. It is very good.

Sure :slight_smile:

I really like JP Launch for their question and answer N5 listening tests because they basically sentence mine at the end and go over vocabulary. It’s very good.

I also just Youtube ‘N5 practise listening’ and there is a lot out there.

Japanese Ammo with Misa is excellent. She also does the whole sentence mining thing, with really in depth explanations. Sometimes she goes a bit off topic but ultimately really very good.

I think I want to move to listening in other ways soon once I learn more vocab and get seasoned with N5 stuff. I know more than enough now to step it up soon I think.

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I’d love to learn Russian. If I ever get the hang of my learning style and become fluent in Japanese, I’ll move to Russian. I just love the sound and I’m fascinated by the country. I can’t wait to visit one day.

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cc @Hantsuki


I learned English as a second language in school, though I never really bothered to put effort into grammar and textbooks ( which did ,in turn, make my english grades dogsh*t ) and only really focused on listening, speaking and just overall immersing myself in English media and such. So yeah the fact that I’m typing this right now is kinda proof that you dont really NEED textbooks and grammar practices to learn a language.
If listening is what works for you then go for it mate, I’m literally the living proof that your study method of only listening/speaking can work.


This might help you. He goes over Genki 1 & 2 and currently Quartet 1 & 2.

Until three months I thought exactly like you: “once I can write Kanji, I will do Shodo, once I am fluent in Japanese I will finally learn Spanish etc.”
That’s a limiting way of thinking. Maybe you think like that because you think you are not a good learner because you don’t like textbooks.

But think about it:
Textbooks used to be the only feasible way of compressing information and distributing it to many people until a few years ago. Now we have the internet (that would look like magic to anyone a couple of years ago!) and almost everyone walks around 24/7 with a smartphone. The possibilities are limitless!
I am already old, and as a child I loved knight rider. I would have cut my right arm off to get that watch. And now, without any sacrifice EVERYONE owns something like that a trillion times better.

It’s a total madness to confine yourself to methods that are antique. Textbooks are exactly that, look at it. You have a book full of made up wonky stories about Guptasan and Smithsan messing around with a WAPURO compared to youtube, Duolingo, online dictionaries, wanikani, native facebook friends, following japanese instagram accounts, amazon kindle with integrated dictionaries (you can make an amazon japan account easily, do you know that? They also have Mangas for kindle, they are really cheap btw.) etc.

The sad truth is, you might never become fluent in Japanese. Of course it depends a lot on your definition of fluency. I know a Professor who is researching about Austrian literature and is he fluent in German? Well, you know, there are really several definitions about that out there. Jay Rubin, Harvard? He hates Kanji, another way to put this is, he is a semi- analphabet in his chosen language :joy:. The point is, do you think you are able to express what you want at the current moment, and you can absolutely reach that point. And it will change over time, and so will you.

The better approach is, to do what you want, because you are good at it.
You want to learn Russian?
Just do it:

It works well and it is free. Just takes a couple of minutes everyday and it will also improve your capacity to learn Japanese. In a strange way, there is no limit for learning other than the ones you set up yourself. But I recommend to write down all the vocabulary and sample sentences, otherwise I think it might not be possible to memorize a lot and probably leads to a certain frustration at some point.


Yeh I find text books just way too boring. I still haven’t finished JFZ 1 after owning it for nearly 9 months!

My plan is to do Human Japanese 1 + 2 and then Satori Reader for a year or so and then go straight into manga.

i agree that practicing writing the kana is great and necessary

but the other questions and stuff in textbooks?? aren’t nearly worth the trouble in my opinion.

I, too, feel very overwhelmed by textbooks. There are a lot of words, and I just can’t bring myself to diligently read it consistently everyday. How I go around this is by taking Japanese class. To me, it’s like the teacher is saying “The textbook is scary, but it’s okay, we’ll go through it slowly and I will explain anything you don’t understand.” I think textbooks provide a systematic way of learning and I like to learn languages systematically.

People here have provided other wonderful resources. If you like listening, I’d recommend JapanesePod101 podcasts. They have episodes catering to the level, so it’s somewhat systematic.

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Textbook is design to treat every reader as a student as we’re in a school.
So everything they put in in have some reason. I mean they organize the lesson step by step and expect us to do practice.

If we remember the time we’re in school, we did so much practice/homework every single day mostly via textbook. It forces us to do “output” of what we’ve learn by recalling, make sentences & speak it (for language), writing altogether. And realize it or not, that’s what makes us remember so many things now including languages.

By doing only listening or watching (which is not wrong either), are we sure we really do practice “output”? Unless we live in Japan and speaking with native everyday. Bcs we only get “input” from that.

Anw, i respect your opinion :slight_smile: and also this is just my opinion hehe


The sentence structure is basically the same as English and also the sounds are similar to Japanese (like how you say the vowels), so don’t wait, learn Russian :relieved:

Also here’s a sentence example:
Я желаю чтобы каждую зиму падал снег, но с глобальным потеплением я не думаю что это мечта исполнится.

I hope that every winter falls snow, but with global warming I don’t think that that wish granted. (Word-to-word translation :skull:)

I hope that snow will fall every winter, but with global warming I don’t think that my wish will be granted.
(Better translation)

Anyways I hope I convinced you to learn Russian, the language is pretty cool (also if you ever go idk if they sell it but pls try оливье its so good lmfao)

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The people who are best in their language immersed constantly for years before they could say anything coherent at all (and then they still pronounced everything wrong and/or messed up the words/used the wrong words, sometimes for YEARS afterward), and during that time they had not just constant input but also speaking practice in a practical setting (e.g. asking for food because they were hungry) with immediate feedback and correction.

Then, after four or five years of immersion, they have almost daily formal language study every day for the next 12 years, while continuing 24/7 immersion.

During that time they are forced to read, I dunno, a couple hundred books and short stories on a variety of subjects.

After that, if we’re talking about really seriously fluent and literate people, they spend the next 10+ years reading dozens or hundreds of books for fun and having frequent native-level conversations with various people while adding hobbies, new work skills, a degree, etc.

But yeah, just listen to some podcasts or whatever, it’s pretty much the same thing rite?

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