Recommendations for textbook or course alongside wanikani/bunpro for grammar/vocab/reading practice?

I recently started Wanikani, know about 200 kanji now.

I’m at a level where I can read some things, but lack vocabulary, and probably some grammar. I’ve been using bunpro on the side for some grammar. I’ve done about half of the N5 lessons there, though definitely not mastered all of those.

I’m just wondering if it would be useful to have some kind of more guided textbook-type support for learning alongside it in a more “traditional” way, ideally that would have common words, and more in depth teaching of grammar, and of course lots of accessible reading (maybe listening?) practice.

So I’ve heard of Genki, みんなの日本語, Japanese from zero, some youtube ones…

Really curious to see what people would recommend or what experience you have with any of them, or others. Especially from the lens of doing them alongside wanikani/bunpro, as someone who has sort of started reading things but still lacks a lot of words and only knows some grammar.

Generally I feel like I’m at the point where I just want meatier stuff to put the language into practice I suppose.

I’m open to any style of support, physical books could be fun for a change from always using screens to learn, but if something is on an app/website I don’t mind. Youtube courses could also be good to listen to in the background while doing other things.

For context, it might be worth mentioning I tend to learn languages in an intuitive way and pick up grammar/patterns/vocab from context easily, whereas I absolutely hate (and can’t) memorise things through buteforce if there’s no logic behind it. I normally avoid textbooks for this reason because every time I’ve interacted with school material, it was always the worst possible way to teach. So I’m preemptively a bit skeptical of textbooks like genki for me.

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So I have a website I’ve been using…

I’m not saying it works wonders (I’ve been struggling with grammar for years), but it’s the best resource I’ve found until now that works for me.

It’s a pretty holistic site. It’s supposed to teach you kanji, vocab, grammar and a bunch of other stuff all together.

It has an SRS too, but it doesn’t work as well as WaniKani’s (or others’), so I personally wouldn’t bother using it.

What I find amazing about it though… Is its very large and comprehensive dictionary…

It has a tonne of example sentences.

Don’t know why, but I was also impressed by finding 3 example sentences about ‘prairie’ (I’m easy to be impressed, I will admit :laughing:)

Their grammar dictionary is… Very nice. I have had instances of getting lost in there for hours just reading the points or browsing their interesting articles.

It also has games, tests, stories (not many, and quite short though), etc…

NOW, a lot of the stuff is free to access. Some other stuff is free up to a point (then resets every month). Some other stuff still, is naturally behind a paywall.

It offers a curated course (and there’s one even tailored to be done in conjunction with the Genki textbooks, but then again you mentioned you didn’t like them :laughing:). The first few lessons are free, then the rest need to be paid (the site offers a monthly subscription, just like WaniKani).

Of course you can try it and see for yourself.

I personally never paid for it as I use it mostly for the games, and to check example sentences and things in its dictionaries. As for the grammar, I enjoy reading about them and (try to) memorise them myself :laughing:

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https://www.irodori.jpf.go.jp/en/about.html

I’ve been using Irodori, which is kind of like Genki, but free online. It has the full textbook with sound files available, and you can also do it with their guided online course. The guided course has videos for listening practice and quizzes as well. I use both.

The italki teacher I’ve been doing lessons with recommended it to me (perhaps because it’s free for both of us, but it really is pretty decent). Ultimately, that’s what I would do most of all, a once or twice a week lesson with a native Japanese italki teacher. It’s not free, but it’s less than you would think and you can pay as you go, rather than all at once.

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I picked up the Human Japanese + Human Japanese Intermediate apps (by the makers of Satori Reader) after I saw them recommended here. Just finished them and started the Nutshell Grammar series in Satori Reader, which seems really good too. I recommend them! Lots of comprehensible input, the quality of explanations is good. I also use Bunpro to drill what I’ve learned.

My one quibble with it is that I wish it introduced the plain form earlier instead of suggesting that you memorize verbs in their polite form. But if you’ve gotten halfway through Bunpro N5, I’m guessing you already found a good treatment of verb conjugation and you’ll be able to convert between them anyway, so that won’t bother you.

I haven’t done Genki or any other textbook so I can’t say how it compares, though.

I’m doing the Genki textbook and workbook alongside Wanikani, and it’s suprisingly pleasant. I like that it is a physical book away from screens (although the spoken recordings are on my smartphone, through the free Genki app). It covers listening, reading, writing and speaking. I enjoy having to actually produce sentences of my own, to write them down and to speak them out. Many exercises are supposed to be done in the context of a class, with your schoolmates, but I’m okay with performing all the roles myself.

I also supplement my studies with some free online ressources: Cure Dolly’s grammar course on YT (she’s great at in-depth explanations), Tadoku Graded Readers for reading, Nihongo con Teppei and Comprehensible Japanese for listening, and of course the Jisho dictionary. The excellent Imabi grammar reference website seems to be down.

I now just wish I had a (very patient) conversation partner.

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I think a textbook supplement is a great idea- it can really help iron out some grammar points and set kanji you learn here in your mind. I’ve done Genki 1 and 2, now since I’m super busy with a new job I’ve been going back to Japanese from Zero 2-5 to have another way to explain concepts and get some more lowkey practice.

It depends if you like the textbook readings or not, or how fast you want to get.

Genki is great if you want to go fast, it assumes a classroom setting so it’s not as hand-holdy as it could be, although now with Tokini Andy it’s much more lucid. I started Genki in 2017 and couldn’t make it past the third chapter the first time around (no videos at the time to help demystify the concepts) and stopped learning Japanese altogether for a while.

Japanese from Zero got me back into Japanese and George does a great job making you feel like you can learn Japanese and that it’s not an impossible task- but it does go slow. Books 1-5 of JFZ I hear are equivalent to Genki 1-2, if you want to compare. Still, there’s nothing wrong with going slow, since Japanese (and any language one wants to learn) is a marathon and not a sprint. Plus, his videos are more teaching focused and a little more down to earth than I feel a lot of Genki YouTubers are- basically, that he assumes less knowledge and tries to break down concepts in greater detail than others like Tokini Andy do

If you don’t like physical textbooks, then Cure Dolly is a good route to go, but I found that I couldn’t really enjoy her videos until I read up to the end of Genki 2 and understood what she was talking about more (for instance, the passive form)

I don’t find I learn grammar from bunpro particularly well, but more that it holds a place in my mind so I don’t forget the concepts I already learned before. I also use a lot of graded readers now, starting at level 0 and slowly working my way up.

I will say this, the most important thing is to stick with a routine, so it’s better to not put too much on your plate so you don’t burn out later when WK gets a little crazy with reviews

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Just my experience, but I was using Genki studiously and abandoned it after I finished Genki 1. Once you start getting into native materials, you’ll realize how relatively useless it is. Pick up any easier manga or anime or watch any TV–casual language and slang dominates.

Right now, I’m using WK+Bunpro and participating in Absolute Beginner Book club here, as well as watching simpler anime (Doraemon, Shin-Chan, etc) with Japanese subtitles. I’ve made huge leaps in my ability in a short time compared to all the time I spent on Genki (I was also using an online tutor with Genki btw).

Note that BP has exhaustive links with each grammar point pointing to outside resources with further detailed info (including traditional textbooks). So, it wouldn’t hurt to keep using BP and reference the Genki info on specific grammar points.

At any rate, ymmv and good luck on your journey. I think it’s important to be flexible and adaptable and remember that you may change course many times on your journey!

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Hi, do you have a tip where to watch or get Doraemon with japanese subtitles? I recently watched some episodes for the first time (but with english subs) and I really liked it as beginner material to watch.

I watch on YouTube. There’s not one good source unfortunately… kind of just have to search around. Here’s an example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuS5wHCmD60

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Game Gengo teaches Japanese through video games on youtube. Crystal Hunters teaches Japanese through manga. MaruMori.io teaches Japanese and has really good grammar explanation blogs.

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