Using Genki I to teach Japanese to my mom's friend! Halp!

Hi! I recently said yes to getting paid to teach Japanese to my mom’s neighbors.

I have almost no tutoring experience, but my mom has been teaching for over a decade and will be giving me some pointers today in a little mother-daughter meeting. I think I’ll be able to manage.

I’ve selected the Genki I textbook as the curriculum I will focus on for this, though I haven’t used it before, I’ve read nothing but glowing reviews.


Now the conundrum; how should I space out the lessons? The plan is to have maybe 1 hour-long tutoring session every week, like on a Saturday. This isn’t an every-weekday classroom situation. So what to do?

  1. Try to cram a full lesson into each hour-long tutoring session, possibly cutting some material?

  2. Spread out the lesson over multiple sessions? Maybe put Dialogue-Vocab-Grammar Explanations in session A and put Practice in session B?

  3. Some other option?

Any thoughts? Did anyone study Genki I in a classroom or tutoring environment?

1 Like

I did something similar a couple of years ago - teaching friends Japanese despite having had no prior teaching experience. However, I didn’t use Genki, so I can’t comment specifically on that.

I think the answers to your questions might depend on a few different things. It might be helpful for your planning if you’re able to ask your students a few questions before you start.

  • How many people are you going to be teaching? If there’s more than one student, you’ll have to try to be accommodating to each person’s pacing and learning style.
  • Do they have any prior experience with Japanese language or culture? If not, they’ll probably need a slower pace.
  • What is their reason for wanting to study Japanese? This will inform which skills and vocabulary you focus on.
  • How much time are they willing to spend studying outside of your weekly lesson? Imo, this is the most crucial question in determining how much you can cover in one lesson.

Assuming they have no prior experience with Japanese, I’d suggest NOT trying to fit a whole Genki chapter into a one hour tutoring session. That seems like too much, unless they’re willing to do a LOT of studying on their own between sessions.


I have absolutely no experience in any sort of professional teaching environment (my only teaching experience comes in the form of teaching my classmates), but I can tell you what my current once-a-week 2-hour Japanese class does. I can also tell you a bit about Genki, as it’s the textbook I’ve been using for the last two years.

Things about Genki

Though, before heading to Genki at all, you might want to consider whether or not your mother’s neighbors can read ひらがな/カタカナ. Genki does provide Romaji for the first two lessons along with charts, but it doesn’t really do much in the way of teaching ひらがな/カタカナ, and approaching it without having a grasp on ひらがな is a bit difficult. Tofugu has some things on those that helped me a lot when I first started learning Japanese.

Another good thing to note about the Genki textbook is that they have a website with videos and conjugation practice activities for all of the lessons. That, and if you want to assign homework, they have a workbook that goes with the textbook. A lot of the exercises have corresponding audio clips on the disc that comes with the textbook.

One thing about Genki’s furigana is that it’s really small. Depending on how old your neighbors are and how good their vision is, they might have trouble reading it.

Genki lessons per class

One two-hour Japanese class is usually enough for one or two grammar points, several Genki exercises, and kanji practice. I often find it useful to do an exercise right after learning something. It’s sort of like how you usually get a practice sheet after learning something in math or how a review comes shortly after a lesson in WaniKani. Concepts need to be reinforced to be remembered well. (Probably)

From what I know, we go at a pace of approximately 3 weeks per 1 Genki chapter. Depending on how your students seem to be doing, you might want to take it faster or slower. Also, think about which chapters might take more or less time than others. It might be beneficial to spend more time on something if they have trouble with it, or less time if they find it really easy.

In terms of cutting material, I’m not sure there’s much to cut in Genki. You could cut the vocab, but then the dialogue and exercises won’t make as much sense. You could cut the dialogue, but then you’d miss a chance to introduce/reinforce the grammar within context and have your students practice speaking. You probably wouldn’t cut the grammar. Cutting the practice exercises would shorten things, but it would probably lead to less practice. You could most likely cut the kanji, though. Each lesson has furigana on everything, and Genki might not be the best thing for directly studying kanji.

I’ve run out of time, so I can’t write more, but there’s hopefully some speck of a useful thing in there.

I used Genki in a language school. (I had some prior knowledge already so I can’t tell you about the first lessons)
One thing that the teachers did is put the section text + listening to the very end, after already covering the grammar. Maybe you should even do vocabulary first, and take a week to get used to the first Japanese words, and hiragana (tofugu has a pretty popular guide)?
I definitely wouldn’t cut any material. Especially the foundations of the language covered in Genki I are all extremely helpful and important.

So yeah, start with maybe the vocab for the chapter (or assign it as homework each week), then go to grammar, cover all the grammar points and do the exercises. And then, at the end, read the text for the chapter and listen to it.


Another note:
After we learn a verb tense in my Japanese class, we often don’t end up using it enough to remember it. We end up having to go over short/plain form all the time in class. Exercises where you switch between polite/plain might help. For instance, if for a page in the book, they had to answer every 2nd question politely and the rest casually.

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.