Suggestions on how to progress with study

I’m using Minna no Nihongo, not Genki, so my experience is probably a little different, but personally I’ve spent the whole book so far (I’m on lesson 30 out of 50) pre-learning the vocab before each chapter, and it has absolutely been the right decision.

MNN is entirely in Japanese, so if I go into a new lesson with the vocab already learned, the only thing I have to worry about when reading it is applying the new grammar. It often introduces 40-50 new words each lesson, which takes me generally a week to get through (I do 20 new Anki cards a day, so 10 new words with both recollection and recall cards). Each lesson ends up taking me a little less than two weeks generally. I’ve found that I can cut the time down slightly if I start learning the next chapter’s vocab while doing the exercises for the previous one, but it’s a lot of SRS, and I don’t always have the stamina to push myself like that.

Personally, I’m happy with this pace. I think if you keep doing Genki at this speed, you’ll be going slower than some other people, but you’ll also be absorbing a lot more vocab, and vocab is the real grind with language learning, and it’s the part that can’t really be rushed. You’ll probably reach the point where I did where the beginning is kind of slow, but then suddenly all of your kanji, grammar, and vocab knowledge clicks together, and you realize that you can actually read a lot of stuff without too much effort.

At least with MNN, what I like about this method is that I’m not learning words in a vacuum at all. Initially, yes, when going through the Anki cards, they are in a vacuum, but I immediately apply the knowledge by reading them and using them in context in the textbook. It feels like I’m learning them way more thoroughly this way. The MNN vocab is vocab that I actually feel comfortable using in writing and in speech because I feel like I actually have a sense of how it is actually used, whereas with WK vocab and even the stuff I’ve mined from native materials, I’m hazier on it.

I understand your anxiety that things aren’t sticking, but I would try keeping at it for a little longer, because for a lot of this stuff, the more knowledge you have already, the more of a framework there is for new knowledge to build on. Especially with the on’yomi and kun’yomi readings. I started out feeling very lost and overwhelmed, but once I learned enough kanji, I just automatically gained a feel for it, and now I have no trouble remembering.

If you haven’t already installed it, I highly recommend downloading the Keisei semantic-phonetic composition script. That script helps me a lot with the on’yomi readings, though it’s less helpful at the beginning, haha.