People who didn't start with Genki, what did you use?

In my Japanese class, we use the Bunka series. I like it since it’s 100% in Japanese, but I do feel like you need a teacher to help you, because there’s not really a lot of explanation about grammar points. It’s more or less example after example and you need to figure it out from there.

Japanese for Busy People. It’s what is used by the the classes taught by a Japanese culture organization in my city.

For grammar self-study, I use a combination of Tae Kim and Wasabi.

I used Japanese from zero to start it was amazingly helpful in teaching me hiragana and basic starter grammar the vocabulary is also very useful

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I started with:
-> “Japanese From Zero! (YouTube Channel)” -
-> “Japanese From Zero! (Books 1-5)” - look it up on amazon
-> “Kanji From Zero! (Book 1)” - look it up on amazon
Everything that i posted below belongs to an American-Japanese author that publishes books to help learning japanese (and he also owns a discord channel with a big community to help you with your problems)


Oh wow, I just used the tofugu guide to learn hiragana for the kanji readings then dove into wanikani. I guess I should be using something for grammar too :rofl:

All the textbooks seem kind of dry though. Any suggestions for something that makes learning fun?

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Tae Kim along with this anki deck to practice what I learned.

More than a year later the N3 and N2 (japanese-only) grammar videos on nihongo no mori.


Hello! I used Japanese from zero for a long time! It’s fairy easy to self-study with. I didn’t start using Genki 1 and 2 until I started taking Japanese classes.

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I’m still very new, I only started about three weeks ago at this point. The first things I did were to learn Hiragana and Katakana from both tofugu and japanesepod101. I also started Wanikani and Kaniwani.

As far as grammar goes I picked up the Japanese From Zero Book 1 on Amazon after reading all of the reviews. I like it, however I finding myself reading the lessons and doing the exercises but then still going to watch Japanese Ammo with Misa and Japanese Pod 101 on YouTube to have better explanations, examples, and native speakers to help cement those concepts into my brain.

I went to live in Japan to teach English, with no knowledge of Japanese. I started learning from a volunteer at the local international centre and using textbook Minna no Nihingo. It was ok for learning the basics, but I didn’t enjoy the topics which were quite businessman oriented. Since coming home I have been using JapanesePod101 which is modern and fun, but no good for learning kanji, which is why I’m here :slight_smile:

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The year I started my degree, the Japanese department had just switched from みんなの日本語 to Genki. So I started with Genki 1 and 2, they’re okay for useful vocab and grammar, but as already mentioned it gets over simplified a bit, which makes learning more advanced grammar later quite stretching.

However in second year we were given Tobira. I absolutely despise Tobira. They cram grammar points into every chapter, there’s no system of identifying similar grammar structures, just an index at the back of all the chapters. There is a key of what each shade or abbreviation means but it’s confusing to get a hold of. Vocab lists are annoying. The only good thing I like about Tobira are the topics it covers, like 教育、歴史、ポップカルチャー. If I sound salty, that’s because I am :angry:

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Hello everyone, this is actually my very first message ever on the forum!

Personally I have tried minna no nihongo, many apps like JA Sensei, lingodeer etc.
But what has been working very very well recently is the Udemy Course made by the Attain Corp. I really enjoy the fact that all the lessons are in Japanese with english subtitles which means your ear gets used to hearing only Japanese but you can understand with the subtitles.

Every lesson start with a “situation” played by (mostly bad let’s be honest) actors of 1 to 3 minutes in Japanese with English subs and then you do all the lessons, learning vocab, grammar etc. around the topic of the situation and the last step is the same situation without the subtitles and it works very well.

I hope my first post was okay :smiley:


I started with Minna no Nihongo, which is what my class uses. Together with a teacher developed grammar binder, and he doesn’t shy away from giving us extra information on grammar points that help link different grammar to each other later on, this book series seems to work great so far ( it got me to N4 level in a year).

I started with this:

However, unless your native language is Polish, it likely isn’t going to be of much benefit to you :slight_smile:

I found this useful at the beginner level:

I can understand your complaints about Genki, but as far as I know, everything else that you can learn from by itself - complete packages for beginners - is more scared of grammar discussions than Genki. I started with Human Japanese and Tae Kim and they were decent but I went back and did a quick work through of Genki recently to solidify my grammar.

If you’re simply looking for a source for beginners to get complete grammar explanations in English, rather than a better textbook, The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar is good. But it’s very much not a textbook. It can be a good complement to something that has the structure but not the explanations you want.


Another Minna no Nihongo user. It evolved from Japanese for Busy people, and features adults rather than students in their examples, which I find more relatable.

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I took about 2 years of Japanese and we used the textbook and workbooks called Nakama, though a lot of times we didn’t use the textbook or even the workbook our professor would make handouts and we’d just use the textbook as practice or reference for new vocab.

I started with the revised edition of French-based Assimil “Le japonais sans peine”. Assimil isn’t all bad, though it wouldn’t be my first recommendation for a French native speaker – it does introduce some grammar notions (though not enough for serious studies) and does help to get some vocabulary, although it takes way too long before letting go of romaji. For non-English speakers, Minna no Nihongo has the advantage of multilingual translation keys over Genki. It’s also probably why it’s the preferred textbook here in Montreal.

Of course, I never thought that in itself Assimil would be enough, so I will continue with both Minna no Nihongo and Genki (yeah, a bit overkill, but the idea is that it may help retain notions more easily). And A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar is on my to-buy list in the not-too-distant future.

I know this thread is mainly targeted to those who didn’t use Genki but if I can chime in;

Even as adult learners, a textbook that is scared to dig deep into grammar at first isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Since I didn’t study linguistics at all beyond mandatory writing courses in college, while I understand English grammar because its my native language and I’ve “studied” it all of my life, doesn’t mean I’m ready to jump into a textbook throwing around linguistics terms in the first few chapters.

For example, me – an adult learner and graduate student:
What the hell is a “colloquial past-perfect verb form?? I don’t even know what that is in English!”

Not that these are difficult terms to relearn (especially since almost all of us learned them before in some aspect), but when it’s not your focus and you’re just a beginner in Japanese trying to do some workbook exercises, now you’ve got to relearn a bit of English grammar rules, the new Japanese grammar, and how they relate!

Of course, once you’re not a complete beginner, these terms are easy, and eventually you’ll know them in Japanese too

Minna no Nihongo user here. I finished all six text books at my Japanese language school, plus the accompanying workbooks. It covers every grammar point in modern Japanese (even 書き言葉). They are great books, but I can’t imagine going past the second book without an instructor/tutor guiding me.

I think Tae Kim is good for learning the basics, quick references and reading example sentences, but there is a lot of stuff missing, so it should not be your only study material. I actually started selfstudy with Tae Kim, but I eventually found that it is far from complete and quickly out grew it when I moved to Minna no Nihongo.