What should I do after Tobira textbook?

So I am nearly finishing up GENKI II + Tae Kim and was wondering what does everyone recommend if I finish Tobira text book for intermediate level?
I saw some users from other platform recommending to just jump into native materials, however on the other hand I see people recommending others to jump into native materials after GENKI I + II.

Thank you for reading my post and I would like to hear what people would recommend thank you :slight_smile:

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short: native after GENKI I
after tobira will be advance book mentioned on reddit/ shinkanzen master N3/N2
and video from youtube
you can use IMABI for reference

Am I able to get a little bump please?

I agree with Jays. If you want more learning materials (as in, not native material), then I would recommend Shinkanzen Master, along with YT teachers like Nihongo no Mori who dive into N3/N2 grammar. Those same resources have N1 material as well. Bunpro is another option as a grammar resource.

Eventually though, and ideally alongside of your studies, you should be using native material. You can certainly start now. There are resources out there that are N4 level (Genki II + Tae Kim) that you can use for practice/study. There are graded readers, Satori reader, NHK Easy, and just Google searching for N4 reading/listening practices will definitely get you more.

There are book clubs on here that are aimed at various levels of difficulty. Those would very much be worth looking into. If you don’t want to do a current book, I would highly recommend going through one of the older books already finished. They have discussion threads you can read through or ask questions on if you need help.

Italki and Hello Talk are also options in terms of production practice. (Reading/Listening as well, but the main idea is to get a conversation going.) People join those places of all levels, so you can start at any time.

My personal recommendation, based off my past experience, would be to start native material sooner alongside your studies, rather than waiting. I kept putting it off thinking I wanted to know more first before I dove in, but I regret that. Take it slow if you need to, if things are complex, but it’s worth it starting now.

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Another option for reading material is Graded Readers to start putting the grammar you’re learning into practice.

Since they’re meant for foreign learners of Japanese they use controlled language and grammar so that the difficulty gradually builds as you go through the levels, meaning you shouldn’t feel out of your depth with them the way you can with native material. They’re a handy stepping stone to help ease you into reading Japanese as you can read them alongside your studies.

The way I used them was to read a couple of levels of the easier books once I was around N4 ish grammar and then I started reading some of the current Absolute Beginner and Beginner book club picks. Once I’ve done some more N3 grammar I’ll read the next difficulty level of the Graded Readers to help reinforce the grammar. After that I’ll probably stick to native material.

There’s a graded readers ‘book club’ thread you can check out if you’re interested.

I also second @conan recommendations of Shin Kanzen Master and Nihongo no Mori and to get reading as soon as possible. It really does help with understanding even though it can be hard at first.

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Here are my thoughts, even though what everyone else has suggested so far is workable:

  • Native materials are something you can start any time, though I think they only become useful learning material after you have a basic level of experience with longer sentences. Otherwise, you’re just going to take forever to check what everything means. (Alternatively, you’ll catch a few things by simply ‘experiencing‘ the material, but you won’t absorb very much overall for the time invested.)
  • The Shinkanzen Master series, from what I understand… is just a set of exercises. It’s a test prep series. I don’t think you would suggest someone learn English by studying TOEFL and SAT books, would you? There might be explanations and tips in the books, but they’ll be really focused on stuff that might come out on the JLPT, and not on how you might be able to express yourself naturally and easily. Some people even say that the N1 is chock-full of obscure structures that no one uses. I’m not sure how true that is, but there has to be a reason people say so. My friend who has an N1 himself told me that N1’s vocabulary and grammar is obscure. This doesn’t mean that the Shinkanzen series is no good: it’s just a question of what you want to focus on. It might actually be an excellent way to level up quickly; I just don’t have enough experience to comment with any certainty.

If you want to continue using textbooks, here’s one my friend recommended:


I have a copy at home, and I feel it’s a cut above Tobira in terms of difficulty, which is certainly good for progressing further. I haven’t started studying it yet, but I intend to. He said it might not be designed for self-study, but the content is sufficient for reaching a decent N2 level. To reach N1, he said I would need to ‘brush up’ on vocabulary and grammar to be fully prepared for what N1 requires. In any case, I think this book is more of a traditional textbook with readings and so on, but on advanced topics like politics and the like.
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Umm, tell that to most of Asia :sweat_smile:.

I’m from Asia – specifically from one of the most exam-oriented nations, Singapore, which frequently pops up near the top of the PISA rankings alongside Finland –, and I did grow up with TOEFL books on my shelves, though I was never forced to study them. (Granted, my parents were exceptions in a society where many are afraid of falling behind and losing out.) While they certainly initiated me into prefixes and suffixes, and started me on my long (and continuing) journey of investigating and loving etymology, I still don’t think anyone actually studies them as their primary source of English knowledge. Tell me if you have contradictory evidence, by all means (even if it’s just anecdotal), but I really think that even test-obsessed Asians don’t study those alone, particularly if they have any experience with real English usage or have visited an English-speaking country. Singapore’s everyday English may be far from standard, but our English textbooks and workbooks aren’t particularly SAT- or TOEFL-like, even if they include plenty of exercises and grammar. I’d like to believe that the only people who regularly do TOEFL/SAT drills are those aiming for high scores on those tests (I’ve known some of them), without necessarily expecting those test-taking skills to translate into real English ability. (Though of course, the TOEFL and SATs are probably slightly more reflective of actual language ability than the JLPT due to the test format, so it’s hard to compare.) My understanding is that Asians drill for those tests, even when they know their home country’s syllabus is far beyond what’s required in a given subject area, for the sole purpose of maximising the utility of the test score, be that in order to enter a prestigious university or to impress prospective employers with their scores. That’s understandable if you’re from a culture where a single mark can change everything, which is certainly the case in densely-populated nations like China, or in Japan, which has a university entrance exam system.

Perhaps I’m just blissfully ignorant of what my Asian peers are doing, but as far as I know, no one, even in the most competitive societies like Korea, China and Japan, can reasonably be drilling test prep books alone, if only for the reason that I’ve seen what language textbooks are like in Japan (for French), and they’re ridiculously far removed from TOEFL and SAT formatting. Japanese people don’t study languages like that: they do pattern drilling and formatted conversations, coupled with grammar exercises. I really doubt that language instruction in China or Korea is far off. Furthermore, if they actually drilled TOEFL effectively, they would probably have a much wider vocabulary (I know since I’ve seen what some books contain), which isn’t what I’m seeing from my personal experience (as a tourist, which doesn’t say much) and from my friend’s experience studying at one of the top universities in Japan.

In any case, and in all fairness, I think I can counter that many people believe doing well for the JLPT is something to be proud of (it is) and that it’s proof of being proficient in Japanese (it isn’t, though it can be an indicator). There are plenty of stories of people with JLPT N1s being unable to hold a conversation, and even rumours of Chinese people with no Japanese knowledge passing the N1 using their kanji knowledge alone. (I think the second is an exaggeration, but it’s true that for an advanced test, most questions will be written in kanji, which helps immensely – I’m a Chinese speaker, so I should know.) My main point was that regardless of ethnicity, culture of origin, beliefs on the value of hard work or test-taking priorities, the idea of using test prep books as one’s main source of language instruction is misguided, even if it’s certainly possible to use them to improve (as I did while preparing for my DALF C2 examination for French) and to work on specific details of a target language. If, however, OP feels that the JLPT is an important goal, then I would encourage OP to consider getting test prep books like the Shinkanzen Master series and to study them seriously, but not exclusively.

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Highly recommend the Wasabi Jpn grammar reference. It will have some overlap with what you already “know” but it presents the information from a more Japanese perspective which helps in providing more clarity in nuance.

Certainly at least dabble in native material that youre interested in after Genki II. No matter when you start it will feel difficult, at least you’ll know what you don’t know once you do.

They are JLPT prep books, it’s their main purpose, and do contain short grammar explanations with some comparison explanations. But like with any textbook for language study you’re going to come across, they’re going to be incomplete by themselves. Though the grammar you learn from whatever resource will be useful, in isolation, I think any one resource is not great. It’s when in combination, and through your own efforts of production/practice, where things really start to click together and you make real progress. From my experiences, at least.

I typed up my post before I read your other post, and never mind, we agree x’D

@ OP
Don’t feel like you need to be restricted by the JLPT/material aimed for test takers, in case you have no interest in taking it. It’s just an easy reference to go by in terms of finding resources at your difficulty level.

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