Learning all Genki vocab in Anki before starting -- Overkill?

TLDR: I haven’t started Genki yet, but I’ve just begun using an Anki deck to learn the vocabulary in it, and I’m wondering if this approach is good.


Hello all,

I read this guide by Tofugu and decided to start using WankiKani immediately after, and leave my Genki book on the shelf until I at least finish level 10. I’ve also been doing a lot of research on how to learn Japanese, and Anki seems like something I’ll use quite a bit in the next few years, so I recently decided to download and configure it.

It occurred to me that it wouldn’t be too much of an extra load to learn vocabulary on Anki in parallel with my studies here on WaniKani, so I decided to get a deck for Genki vocab. It seems like a good way to be able to focus exclusively on grammar when I eventually do start the book.

Now that I’m nearly done with all the cards for lesson 00 and 01, I’m wondering if I should just forget my previous plans and jump right in, or if I should stay the course.

I’m also wondering… is this plan overkill? At this rate, I won’t be starting Genki until my birthday in late March. Around that time, I should be at or near level 10 on wanikani, and I should be most of the way through the Anki deck. I might even be well past level 10 at the rate I’m going.

I thank you in advance for your advice!

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I feel like you should just do them in parallel. There’s a lot of vocab in Genki, and while a lot of it is useful, you shouldn’t get hung up on it and prevent you from starting the book. When you start reading native materials later on you’ll have to look up vocab constantly anyway. Learning everything will just come with time and waiting seems like it would only slow your overall progress.
That’s just my opinion though. :slight_smile:

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Genki does not introduce Kanji until Chapter 3 and then teaches a total of ~110ish kanji in the first Chapter.

I learned the vocab shortly before doing the chapter and then had to use it within the practice. Sometimes they also teach some concepts within the vocabulary you won’t really get to stick until you learn it. It might get very frustrating too, as you miss the context of the words for a long time and you might forget some words over and over without using them in any way.
For Genki you don’t need any kanji at all as a prequesite, the book teaches them.

As michelle said, I’d recommend to do it paralell if your goal is to consume some native material asap.

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For background, I’m level 12 in WaniKani, I just finished Genki 1, and I’m about 1000 cards into an Anki deck for the Genki vocab.

What I found was that Genki and WK reinforced each other, and I understood them both better by doing them at the same time. The grammar from Genki helped me understand how I’d use words in WK, and the radicals in WK helped me remember Genki vocab much better. I even got to the point where I was editing the Genki cards to include upcoming WK mnemonics, so that I could tie them together in my mind and make connections between words.

If you have some really compelling reason to only do one at a time, go ahead and stagger them, but I think it’s unnecessary. It’s good to see multiple facets of a language working together, instead of learning them in isolation.

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Potentially hot take: for self study Genki is not a great resource, it’s clearly meant to be used in a classroom with a teacher guiding you through the content.

For self study I find Tae Kim’s grammar guide a lot more palatable, then you can use something like bunpro and a good Anki deck for practice.

But if Genki works for you by all means go with that, it’s the same content in a different order in the end.

But to answer the original question I think you should do WK and grammar in parallel, not one after the other. Knowing the vocabulary helps with studying grammar, and without grammar vocabulary is useless.

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Thank you all for your generous replies!

I guess the consensus is to just start already, so that’s what I’ll do! I might keep doing the Anki deck or just shelve it, depending on how useful it seems after going through the book for a while.

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Good luck with the studying!

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Technically most (non-JLPT) textbooks are like that - they have integrated social learning Lots of people still successfully use them as self-study. There’s a ton of supplemental material for self-learning for all the popular books. You’re not wrong, they’re not written optimally for self-learning, but it’s hardly a deterrent anymore.

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Start now! The earlier you start the better. It will be much better when you know the vocabulary. By the way, Genki is very bad at teaching Kanji, so doing WaniKani really helps.

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I also read the guide when I began and liked the idea of waiting until level 10 and having a base of kanji knowledge before starting grammar. In practicality…it was a waste of time. The problem is that Wanikani limits your pace to their own schedule, and especially for those first weeks when you have the most motivation and the least amount of reviews to do each day…you have nothing to do with your study time. Even at max speed, it takes around 7 weeks to hit level 10, I believe. Plenty of people finish the entire Genki I in 3 or 4 months if they’re moving quickly in self study, so waiting months before even beginning seems wasteful unless your study time is heavily restricted.

Definitely get comfortable with both hiragana and katakana first thing, and I’d suggest being familiar with all the Genki vocab before starting that chapter while moving forward with Wanikani. Remember that while knowing what the kanji in a word means makes memorization of vocab so much easier, Genki doesn’t even introduce kanji as a concept until lesson 3, and continues to use furigana all the way through. If you are interested in connecting the kanji with their meaning from the start, you can always plug the kanji right into Wanikani’s search option, then add the meaning and even paste the mnemonics right onto your Anki cards. I don’t do it on every card, but here’s an example from my personal deck from when I was having trouble with a specific card :

You can see I have the Kanji meanings under the kanji, then added some mnemonics to the bottom. This is all on the back of the card, so it doesn’t clutter up the front.

I also highly recommend learning common sequences separately from flashcards. Numbers, time, ages, days of the week, months of the year, etc. I tried to learn these with Wanikani and Anki…it went very poorly. Turns out it’s difficult to create sequential order when you only see things in isolation. Learn them in the order they’re intended and then you can visualize the list much easier as you see them in context. This would be a good thing to start on early if you do decide to level up on Wanikani before starting grammar. Genki has clock time and age at the end of chapter 1, and calendar time at the end of chapter 4.

As for self studying Genki, I did Genki I on my own, then paid to take 201 at the local college with the first half of Genki II, then finished the book on my own. I didn’t find I learned reading or grammar any better in a classroom than I did at home. I watched Tokini Andy’s lesson videos for each chapter and did the workbook and I did all the group activities either on my own or I skipped over. Amusingly, the class also skipped over most of these exercises, in favor of cultural lessons and dialogue readings, or assigned them as homework where we had to record ourselves doing one or both parts - by ourselves. So much for pair work! Obviously the class was best for speaking and listening skills, but as far as whether Genki is effective for self study, my vote is yes if you’re looking for the ability to read and write.

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Wow! Thank you! That’s a neat trick with the Anki cards you showed, I’ll remember that when the time comes.

I’ll take your advice on learning common sequences separately from flashcards. I’m starting to notice how bad flashcards are for that sort of thing. Thanks for the heads up about chapter 1 and 4.

How funny that your professor didn’t make use of group work. So much for the classroom advantage haha

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