Hi! I’m kind of new here so my apology if the question has already been answered.
I recently bought Genki I and its textbook to start studying grammar because I heard it was a great textbook, but I also heard a lot about Minna no nihongo, and so I started asking myself if I had made the right choice by taking Genki over Minna no nihongo. Are there any big differences between the two that can have an impact on your learning or are both of them relatively equal to one another?
Hi! I’m kind of new here so my apology if the question has already been answered.
A lot comes down to personal preference. It’s not like either one is going to dramatically hold you back nor catapult you forward.
I don’t have Minna, but my understanding is that it has less romanization and is more heavily written in Japanese. Maybe that’s a benefit for you, maybe that’s a detriment, maybe it makes no difference.
I believe both of them were intended to be classroom textbooks so that’s something to keep in mind. I don’t know that there’s anything out there that’s a slam dunk for self-study.
In any event I don’t think it’s going to make or break your studies, so I wouldn’t worry about having made the “right” or “wrong” choice.
I have the first volume of Minna no Nihongo. I don’t really like it. It does not teach you many fundamental basic Japanese structure and start your journey with polite langauge. I think that’s not a good start.
However, Minna structure is entertaining and easy to follow. I think the intention of the book is to provide learning material along side with a real life teacher class. It’s not great for self study. My friend who use Minna for self study can’t even use -te form and don’t understand how to change verb from dictionary form to other forms.
I don’t know about Genki. I just jump around the internet for basic Japanese grammar then hop to Tobira.
I have completed Genki I & II and have also completed みんなの日本語 I & II. As a begginer you should stick with Genki as it’s written in English and is eaiser to use. みんなの日本語 is entirely in Japanese and you require a secondary english translation guide to navigate through it and learn lessons. In my own experience, flipping through the lesson/completing the exercises and switching to a second book to refrence what the hell is going on was extremely annoying for me. You don’t want to make studying Japanese any harder than it already is.
That being said, みんなの日本語 does cover a few more grammar points that Genki skips over. This is espcecially true in the second volume of みんなの日本語. What I found helpful is completeing the Genki series first, then moving to みんなの日本語 to cover missed lessons only. Some of the harder ones, I hired an Italki teacher to walk me through for like 10$ a session. Hope that helped!
I’m not familiar with みんなの日本語. But I am fairly familiar with Genki. I consider Genki to be good as far as textbooks are concerned, but I’ve recently begun to agree with the Cure Dolly philosophy that most textbooks (including Genki) do not teach Japanese in an efficient way because they fail to teach the fundamental structure of the language. For example, any system that starts out by drilling in the ます/です forms is automatically guilty of this.
I’m not against Genki per se. But I would recommend checking out Cure Dolly s videos. Just be warned that her voice takes some, uhhh, getting used to. But her explanations on Japanese language structure are amazing.
みんあの日本語 is the standard used in language schools in Japan. So if you have longer term plans to study there that might be a factor in which to choose. The みんな series are used precisely because there’s one main textbook and then a couple dozen different translation books. Which while that gets some complaints in this thread allows the schools to have mixed language students in the same class.
I have both and think they are largely equivalent. Genki might be slightly more approachable for a native English speaker.
They’re both popular beginner options - they both cover the need to know points - I don’t think you can really say you’ve ‘gone wrong’ by choosing one over the other, unless you personally find one to be more difficult/frustrating than the other. They’re both meant to be used in a classroom, so the structure isn’t necessarily super conducive to self-learning, but you can make it work.
I don’t have Genki, but do have みんなの日本語 - I personally don’t find the flipping back and forth to be annoying - I try to pick up the vocabulary before I read the lesson, and if I don’t remember a vocabulary word when I’m reading the lesson, I just look it up and move on.
I like that the main book is entirely in Japanese - it may not be the ‘recommended’ study path (per the textbook), but I usually learn the vocab, and then just read the lesson sentences - often I can infer what the grammar point means after I read a few sentences. If not, I pause and read the grammar explanation for the chapter, then go back and re-read the sentences. The fact that it’s harder to look up what the sentence means, for me, means that I’m more likely to think about it and work it out before I look at the answer, which usually helps things stick better. I am not particularly intimidated by picking up a page that’s all in Japanese, because that’s what I’m used to looking at in the textbook (though anything I pick up is going to be more dense than the textbook)
Like most textbooks, it starts with polite language (which makes sense, since it’s meant for language schools in Japan, and the learners are likely to need to use this stuff quickly, and politely). I supplemented early on with a look through the Tae Kim sections on casual forms of verbs, since I knew that was what I would see/hear a lot of in culture I was likely to consume. I dislike that it continues to teach you verbs in -masu form as the vocabulary rather than dictionary form after teaching you about plain form, conjugating ‘te’ and ‘ta’ forms etc. It seems ridiculous, but since it’s not my main vocabulary source, I’ve just kind of moved on.
Neither is a perfect source, both will get you started with stuff you need to know. Don’t worry about it.
Thank you all for the replies!
Someone mentioned longer terms plans to study there, I didn’t wrote it in the original post but I plan on moving to Japan for studies once I would be confident in my skills, and feel like I could be able to live my daily life there without major speaking problems, I really don’t want to be stuck in a foreign country having times where I would struggle to comprehend someone or be understood by others in a daily situation, that’s why I thought of doing this once I would have passed the JLPT N3, still a fairly long way to go but I don’t want to rush it and one of my acquaintances who worked in Japan for some time told me N3 should be sufficient for those daily situations I’m referring to.
Now back to the main topic, I’m sorry I went a bit off road here, as someone recommended I think I will study and finish the Genki series first and then move to the みんなの日本語 series, from what I’m being told みんなの日本語 is written entirely in Japanese so it might be better to study with it after first being used to Japanese grammar, at least that’s how I’m seeing it. I previously had a beginner level book where sentences were also written in romaji, and I hated it because my eyes focused on it and it was hindering my progress in reading, so I was mostly looking for a book where sentences would be written in Japanese and an English translation, no romaji of the sentence, at best have a furigana for the kanji, but I wouldn’t mind searching for a word or kanji I don’t know of yet.
I will take a look at Cure Dolly’s videos to see if I can study with this style of learning, I know sometimes videos can be a great way to learn but can also be a bad way, in my experience watching videos to learn English helped me a lot when I began learning it but it never worked for Spanish.
Again thank you all it really helped a lot!
For Cure Dolly, I would go ahead and start here:
And then continue working your way through the numbered lessons. She has non-numbered lessons as well which are all great, but the numbered ones give you a nice logical path to follow in order to progress from the basics to the more advanced concepts.
Also recommend turning the subtitles on in case you have a hard time understanding her strange voice.
Learning the vocab first and then trying to read the lesson afterward is in fact the recommended strategy! At least, that’s what the beginning of the translation book recommends for proceeding through the text. This is what I’ve been doing, too, and it’s been working out really well for me. I take physical notes on the vocab and also start running them through Anki several days before I attempt to read the lesson. If you learn the vocab well enough (and read through the grammar section) before attempting to read the chapter, it minimizes a lot of the flipping back and forth that you have to do, and you basically end up being able to more or less read the Japanese text without needing to reference any outside aid as you’re reading, which is a cool feeling. The book seems to be structured pretty well where it slowly builds on grammar you’ve already learned and doesn’t add too much new grammar at a time.
My approach with Minna no Nihongo is to basically treat it like attempting immersion through resources like koohi.cafe (which is a website for pre-learning vocabulary before you read specific books and other materials in Japanese). I learn the vocab and read about the grammar points, then practice applying both of them by reading the textbook. I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff that I’ll get less practice on in the textbook, but I’m eventually going to read other books besides that one. MNN is just giving me a basic foundation that I can build off of.
I don’t really mind the book using the ます form, but I’m also reading it in conjunction with watching Japanese Ammo with Misa’s absolute beginners playlist, which has given me a basic understanding of how Japanese sentence structure and verbs and such work. I just view MNN as giving me more practice with the ます form. My Anki deck has the verbs in plain form as well as the ます form from the textbook so that I can learn to associate the meaning of the words with both forms (otherwise, I have a hard time recognizing WK verbs, for example, if I hear them spoken in ます form and not plain form, since we only learn the plain form here and never practice any other conjugation).
And @MrSuntastic, I’m not sure I’d recommend going through MNN after completing Genki. I feel like it would be a lot of wasted time, and also a waste of money, since MNN is fairly expensive. You’d probably be better off just picking up the grammar points you missed through reading manga or other native materials, or through other sources like A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, since MNN would contain a lot of stuff that’s redundant for you.
I think Genki and MNN are roughly equivalent, and either one will serve you just fine, so I would choose whichever one has a style that you prefer. Also, for the record, I’ve never taken a formal Japanese class, and I haven’t had any trouble getting through MNN without a teacher (other than Misa’s videos haha), because the lessons and exercises are structured pretty well for self-study.
haha - I always remember the weird part of the instruction sequence where it tells you to do the part A and B exercises before reading the example sentences and conversation, which I always thought was weird. I’d totally forgotten that of course it tells you to learn the vocab first.
I for one can’t stand the uncanny valley of Core Dolly. I highly recommend Tae Kim’s grammar guide.
I’m in Japan, and I’m primarily using みんなの日本語, which I’m working through with my Japanese teacher. I also have a copy of Genki, which I read and work through as a supplement. Genki has a LOT of “find a classmate and do this task,” which Minna doesn’t have so much—I think in that respect Minna is better for solo/private lessons study, but they both seem decent to me. Going through both, Genki is definitely targeted at a college/high school/youth demographic. Minna is more targeted at a working-age, entering-the-world-of-Japanese-business demographic.
Personally, I think it’s better to have the double textbook because it’s harder to fall back to English as a crutch, so I like the separate volume. By the way, I think the main reason they do that is so they can publish the materials for speakers of many different languages, from English, to Tamil, to Burmese! Even in my Kinokuniya bookstore in Sapporo, they have all the languages in stock because there are university students from all over the place!
Another thing I’d mention is that I really like the Minna supplements. There’s a whole supplement with aural comprehension tasks. There’s a reading supplement that slowly builds up the necessary grammar and vocabulary as you work through the main textbook. And, they’ve written two “novels” about the “main character” of the textbook, the first of which you can probably start reading around Lesson 5, and should be able to understand pretty well by the end of the first textbook.
Here are the pros and cons of each summarized. I’d be happy to elaborate.
Genki 1 and 2:
80% in English
Some engaging characters and storylines and some nice audio samples/listening practice
Great Reading samples at the back of the book
The dictionary form is used to introduce vocabulary
It provides a gentle intro to kanji
80% in English
Disorganized and confusing grammar presentation
You have to keep flipping back and forth and it’s not always clear how the practice sessions are organized or what the book is asking you to do.
Some of the audio is poorly recorded
The answer key is separate and costs extra
みんなの日本語 I & II:
You get to learn Japanese in Japanese, and there’s more immersion, as opposed to Genki, which likes to communicate to you in English too much.
Clear and straightforward grammar presentation
Overall, the organization of the textbook is much clearer and more direct than Genki
Using the grammar translation book is easier than some people claim
The answer key is included.
It’s better to start using after you’ve become a little accustomed to some basic Japanese
It uses -mas form to introduce vocabulary too much
Some of the audio practice is quite fast
I don’t know anything about Minna no nihongo so I can’t help you on that issue, but if you want some supplementary material for Genki I would definitely check out this playlist by Tokini Andy. Like some people have mentioned, Genki is meant for classroom settings and can be a bit disorganized, but these videos help a lot with clarifying grammar points. There is also a Tokini Andy discord channel so if you’re interested in doing some of the practice exercises from the book you can do them there, and he also makes Patreon content with listening exercises (although I’ve found the free content to be plenty!).
MNN is organized and focused a lot on Japanese grammar. It’s a great text book for a “sit down and focus on study” situation. Not the best for “on the go.” And, I think you need the supportive
English “Translation & Grammar Notes” book to work together. It’s a little tuff to use the text book by itself. Because it’s mainly written in Japanese. (Coicoy san’s Pros and Cons explained it well.)
GenKi focuses more on “speaking and listening”. The OTO Navi is a free phone app. enables you learn it on the go. It’s a more “beginner friendly” text book.
I loved both. One supports the other.
However, if you started with MNN, you’ll find GenKi to be a little easier to understand.
I use Genki and Bunpro together and I believe anymore complex than that is wasting my time. I have learned plenty from Genki.
What I love doing besides my main textbook though is go through easier resources as well. l found resources like Human Japanese to be super enjoyable because it was all material I knew already and it made for excellent review at the same time.
That’s super satisfying when you’re used to everything being so goddamn hard all the time.
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