Tips on approaching Genki I independently?

My currently goal to learn a basic/daily level of Japanese (reading+writing+listening+speaking) in about 6 months, which I realize is pretty ambitious!

I’ve got a copy of Genki I + workbook + answer key which is great, and the vocab app which have all been helpful but somewhat overwhelming initially. The thing I love about WaniKani is I can kinda just “show up” and the routine/learning process is determined for me–definitely not the case with Genki.

Does anyone have some good tips for habits/structure in tackling Genki I for the first time? Should I really spend days learning every single vocab word on each list, what exercises should I do / is there any way to follow some sort of predetermined schedule or structure with an app maybe?

After about a week of stumbling through the same first few sets of flashcards with very incremental improvement, I feel like I need to figure out a good system.

Any wisdom would be much appreciated!

Thanks (:


How I approach it:

  1. Read the chapter and get an overview of the topics.
  2. Anki/flashcard the vocab. This helps me learn the vocab initially, and the tougher words I’ll pick up over the rest of the chapter.
  3. Read the grammar section.
  4. I then find a video that goes over the grammar. Grammar is the hardest part of language learning for me, so any extra help is appreciated. I’ve been using Tokini Andy on YouTube, which has been a great resource.
  5. Anki some grammar examples using cloze cards.
  6. Reread the chapter, paying closer attention to anything that still doesn’t make sense.
  7. Do textbook, workbook, and writing exercises.

Overall, that takes me about a week per chapter. Could easily do it quicker but I don’t have a timeline like you’re setting. I’m coupling this with active listening/reading/watching and Wanikani.


Read the basics of the lesson, watch a video about the lesson (like tokini andy), then do the exercises, and repeat as necessary to refresh things as you continue to new lessons.

Unless you really enjoy making and doing flashcards (I do not), don’t bother. There are dozens of ways to learn vocabulary, most of which are cheap or free, and also almost every word you’ll see in Genki you’ll also eventually flashcard in WK anyway. You buy a $50 textbook to learn grammar in a structured way, not vocabulary. Don’t ignore the vocabulary, but don’t burn yourself out by adding unnecessary crap to your workload unless you really want to.

Once you learn all the basic grammatical concepts - I’m not sure what chapter that would be, but after you know how to conjugate verbs and adjectives into negative, past, conditional, possibly after Genki I but IMO before - find some easy non-textbook stuff to read. Join a beginner’s bookclub here, or go back and read one of the finished bookclubs. Seeing structures and vocabulary in the wild will cement it in your mind more than the textbook will by itself. Our minds remember things by linking them to context, and native material gives context.



Jk, I know plenty of people who have found Genki very useful. So, if it works for you, great. Nevertheless, in my case, I did not learn all that much from Genki at all.

Too many people go to Genki when its learning style is certainly not for everyone. Just keep in mind that there are plenty of other resources. My personal favourite was Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide. Just go through a few grammar points every day and you’ll progress ten times faster if you’re anything like me.

That being said, I do believe that everyone learns differently, so, if you don’t find either of them help you all that much, I would suggest considering the countless other resources.

Anyway, sorry. I know that this isn’t really what you were requesting, but, in my experience, Genki was far more of a hindrance than a help :sweat_smile:, and so I want to make sure others don’t waste their time in the same way.

I have found following along with Tokini Andy’s YouTube playlist to be very helpful for self studying. To me, watching a video along with it gives me the “just showing up” feeling of WaniKani.


I spent the whole 2020 procrastinating on Genki I. In 2021, I’m tackling it two chapters per month, so it’s slow, but I’m making steady progress. My personal experience so far.

  1. I really prefer to have kanji and vocab already pre-learned thru WaniKani, which works for me now as I’m halfway done with WK. Without SRS and mnemonics, I was really struggling to learn Genki vocab on my own. I use vocab app, doing one part of current lesson daily, and it’s subpar to real SRS of WaniKani.
  2. Doing the full set of exercises (textbook and workbook) was too much, so I dropped workbook. I also often skip group activities exercises, or writing exercises since they are too difficult, will take too much time, and I have no teacher to give me feedback and corrections.
  3. No point in getting stuck on understanding the material 100%. Something unclear - maybe ask on forum, google, or just move on. Later from other experiences, things will get clearer.
  4. No point in memorizing everything at the very beginning. Genki I grammar is the most basic and you will encounter it everywhere, so it will be reinforced thru repetition. I also drill grammar points in Bunpro, but reading is probably the most useful activity. I read ABBC picks, and I see grammar points that I’m learning right away, and also I see how much I’m still missing.
  5. Tokini Andy playlist is helpful, and gives sense of class learning.

To summarize, I think it’s better to sort of run thru Genki fast, since it’s only foundation, and then if necessary, return to it later and get higher level of understanding, like spiraling to next level.

All the best, and good luck!


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