Strategy for studying with Genki 1 and 2 for non-beginner?

On a whim, without performing a whole lot of research in advance, I ordered a set of Genki version 3 books, which I should receive by Friday:

  • Genki 1 text and workbook
  • Genki 2 text and workbook
  • Answer book covering Genki 1 and 2

I’m hoping to take the JLPT N4 test in December. Last December I missed the N4 passing grade by 3 points. Several years ago I passed the N5. I have been studying (or, mostly, not studying) Japanese for a very long time - more years than I can count on all of my fingers and toes. So I’m not a true ‘beginner’ - rather I call myself an ‘advanced beginner’.

I also bought the N4 Shin Kanzen Master books - and I’m ready to start with the grammar book today.

But in the spirit of ‘more is better’, I’m thinking that a mixed approach between some WK (although I have put it into vacation mode for the time being), and Shin Kanzen Master, and some Genki, and maybe some videos that parallel the Genki books, and maybe some Bunpro, and even a smattering of A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar might give me a 360 view that will not only help me pass the N4, but improve my Japanese language skills in general.

Without a doubt, grammar is my weakest point.

So, my Genki question/dilemma is how to get the most out of it. While I have considered the possibility of ignoring Genki 1 completely and starting at the beginning of Genki 2, that approach might leave me with some gaping holes in my knowledge that could come back and bite me - such as missing some questions on topics that I should already know well but don’t, and not getting the full benefit from Genki 2 because of possible unmet dependencies on Genki 1 material.

Yet I really don’t need to start with hiragana and konnichiwa.

Nevertheless, does it make sense to start at the beginning of Genki 1, faithfully completing as many of the exercises and readings as I can, mostly reviewing but probably doing some new learning along the way, and see how quickly I can speed through it? Or would that still take me a few months of effort with little expected return, causing me to miss some more important content from Genki 2?

Realistically, how quickly could a person with some Japanese language background expect to progress through Genki 1 in that manner?

Any guidance from anyone who may have faced similar questions or who otherwise has a good grasp of the Genki 1 experience would be appreciated.


I haven’t used Genki myself, but I had a quick look through the grammar the two volumes cover and it’s about what I would expect in a two volume beginner textbook. I think that if you’ve passed N5 and come close on N4 then you’re likely fine on anything in the first volume. The big topics that tend to be hard for beginners and that just-into-intermediate students need to come back and have a second look at are all in volume two: verbs of giving and receiving, passive, causative, keigo. In your place what I might try is a schedule that focuses on working through Genki 2 but also incorporates occasional work with Genki 1 in a “revision” style – treat volume 1 as a reference, skim through the chapters, feel free to skip stuff you’re confident about, reread the parts dealing with grammar that seems less familiar. Maybe 5 parts volume 2 work to 1 part volume 1 work?

Just a suggestion, but given you’re aiming for December it seems better to me to get stuck in to volume 2 right away rather than running entirely through volume 1 first, even as a speed read.


That makes a lot of sense and is quite helpful, thanks…


This site has both the textbook and workbook question and answers (well the non-group activities)

Set the questions to multiple choice and fly through the textbook exercises in order. Anything you aren’t confident with, study with GENKI, then use the workbook questions as practise for the stuff you studied.


That’s a useful approach, thanks…


In which case you would probably get more out of the Shin Kanzen Master N4 books.

You can go through Genki 1 + 2 briefly, but if you’re already at around N4 level, they might not teach you much. However, perhaps they will give more structure as you mentioned grammar being your weak point?

I did Genki 1 + 2 and before that Tae Kim’s Guide to Grammar + verb/adjective conjugation lists I would create myself. Genki 1+2 proved to be way more valuable in the long run. The exercises it contained + explanations were exactly what I was missing in my studies.