Too Much Grammar?

TL;DR: Is using two grammar resources at the same time a bad idea? What’s your opinion?

I’ve been using Genki, and going very slowly because I’ve been memorizing the vocab for each chapter before I start working on the chapter. I discovered a resource for grammar called Bunpro that uses SRS for teaching grammar points, and I like SRS a lot. Would my Genki studies be negatively impacted by using Bunpro, in your opinion?

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Using multiple sources can reinforce each others strong points to improve your learning experience. It’s not bad per se and often actually quite good.
I’m a fan of the A Dictionary of (Basic/Intermediate/Advanced) Japanese Grammar books by The Japan Times.

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And Bunpro is meant to be used as a secondary grammar source, though many (including me) are using it as a primary source.

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I don’t think it would negatively impact your Genki studies necessarily, but if you pile on too many resources you could get study burnout, so just watch your schedule and be sure to do fun stuff too! In the end, if it works with the way you learn and you can keep to it, I would say go for it!

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When I started Japanese, I was using four sources of grammar - Nakama (the class textbook), TextFugu, Japanese for Busy People, and the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Maybe you already know this but you can select a “Study Path” in Bunpro. One of the options is Genki I Grammar Order.

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IMO no. Using SRS is pretty important to keep the grammar points you have learned from Genki in your memory. I think Bunpro is especially good with this because it has Genki grammar sorted by chapters, so you can add your Genki learned grammar to your Bunpro SRS after each lesson. The textbook and workbook questions are great of course to introduce you to the grammar but is not enough to remember it forever. Also, Bunpro has multiple sentences for any given grammar point (and I believe they add new ones occasionally) which I find to my advantage since you will often seen Bunpro present the grammar point in a way not previously shown on Genki.

Personally my speed on each lesson has slowed down drastically because I have been spending a lot of time on reviews and vocab. This is mostly a time management issue on my end but I don’t think its necessarily an issue because I am still reviewing grammar points and learning them better.

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In my opinion you should always use BunPro or another SRS system along with your grammar textbook to help reinforce what you’ve learned. If you only see it once you’re going to forget it. Bunpro has a Genki mode, which indicates that it’s meant to be used with Genki.

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+1 for also using BunPro. Before I started with BunPro I was just reviewing older grammar material at random whenever I had extra time. Early on in your studies that’s pretty easy. “Well I’ve studied five chapters, let’s review a chapter this weekend and I’ve refreshed 20% of what I know.”

When you’re 100 grammar points deep you start to feel the futility of such an approach. That’s where the magic of SRS comes in.

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I think different study methods work for different people, so try and find what works best for you. I’ve never really seen the appeal of BunPro, because personally, I think SRS is best suited for vocab and other low-level memorization kind of tasks. To me, grammar is at a higher level of reasoning and is something you have to learn by reading about it and understanding which parts of speech it can be used with, what connotations it has and how it compares to other similar grammar points, and so on. Whenever you learn a new grammar thing, it’s a great opportunity to connect it to native material that you’re reading/watching/etc. by watching out for it. SRS probably is nice for memorizing verb conjugations though, since that is essentially rote memorization.

When I learned grammar, I would read lots of different sources on the same topics, including Tae Kim, TextFugu, imabi.net, and anything else that I could find. I also second the recommendation on A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar; it’s what I tend to refer to these days and I like how thorough it is and how it lays out everything concisely and to the point.

If you’re comfortable with what you’re using and you’re seeing results, by all means keep at it.

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All grammar below N1 is going to come up often enough regularly to not need SRS, I think. Just make sure you pay attention when listening to/watching/reading stuff. Also textbooks make a point of combining grammar, as it builds on previously learned grammar. At least Minna no Nihongo does.

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Quite a lot of grammar is rote memorization though. Sticking かもしれない on the end of a sentence isn’t that hard of a concept to grasp, it’s just a matter of remembering that what you’re looking for is かもしれない. Even somewhat more complex grammar points aren’t necessarily that different when it comes to how we learn them. “This noun gets より … this one gets のほうが.” Just a matter of remembering what those strings of sounds are and which goes where, but it’s really barely more complex than memorizing a vocabulary word.

But when you’ve only been studying 6-24 months there’s a good chance you’re not going to be able to read enough material to constantly come across all these various points and SRS makes perfect sense to help with that.

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Bunpro is more of a grammar tool than a grammar resource

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Grammatical words sure, but things like transitive versus intransitive verbs, correct particle usage, when you should use the passive tense or not, what certain conjugations or grammar words mean in different usages, and how the pieces fit together are all things that I feel SRS isn’t the best at training. I think seeing them in action, and analyzing how they work, whether that be in native content or example sentences, is a lot more helpful than trying to map grammatical words to rough English equivalents.

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You could argue that SRS isn’t good for learning words, for much the same reasons.
The brain is great at pattern recognition. Memorising enough examples of something is equivalent to learning the rules behind it.

I do agree with the bit about native materials, but once again that applies to words/kanji as well - personally I don’t feel like I’ve learnt the word until I can recognise it being used in the real (or televised) world.

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Heh, this is pretty much the opposite of what I did; just letting the grammar come in without much thinking, and later maybe checking some usage if there’s anything unclear. I’d argue you can’t really learn grammar by reasoning alone, and most get trapped in thinking they have to understand something they don’t even yet have the tools to understand. I agree on the part about native material, but I think a lot of grammar learning is subconscious. Depends how you define knowing grammar, but I guess I’ve been trying to absorb it ‘naturally’, without thinking about rules and what not too much. Trying to get in the mindset of a native.

But I also find reading about grammar alone very boring; so this method worked for me pretty well.

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Yeah, I’m relying mostly on immersion for actual learning. Knowing the rules behind it can help make things quicker though (it’s faster to find a pattern when you already know what it is), so I’m slowly working through bunpro as well.

Funnily enough, I think grammar (in the abstract) is one of the most interesting things created by humanity. That you can create meaning out of the arrangement of a bunch of abstract symbols is amazing. That what the particular rules or symbols are don’t even matter is mind boggling!

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My point is just that it’s something you have to think about a bit more than you do when you’re memorizing vocabulary. I also prefer to think more intuitively, but I think that’s kinda hard to do without a foundation. I think you certainly could learn grammar just by listening and repeating, but unless you have a native speaker to put up with your baby talk I feel like you can save yourself a lot of trouble by using your adult brain to study a little bit first to get you started. It probably helps that I really love Japanese so I can have fun reading about grammar stuff.

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Yeah, I agree you do need some kind of foundation and basic understanding before you can start adding stuff to it intuitively. I find that just a shaky understanding is usually fine and the nuances will come later by itself.

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This, and I don’t usually find the textbook answer anymore useful than the really basic explanation bunpro gives in practice. Either way you get a really superficial view of what the grammar is doing. Actually understanding the thing tends to come down to repeatedly seeing/trying to produce the pattern in different contexts.

I’m with you on nerding out over grammar. I think I just see the more academic sides of language as a different subject. Something like “studying” the language rather than “learning” it…

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