What's the best textbook for self-study?

Good to know I’m not alone in this boat! It seemed like everyone was in their own little corners with Genki but the price is way out of my league right now. I’ve been (trying) to use TF but just can’t get into the swing of it/get into it even there’s quite a lot of interesting information there. I’ll have a look at renshuu.com, thank you!

A few people recommended Japanese The Manga Way to me which I bought and now waiting for it to arrive, I’ll let you know how I get on with it!

Oooh I’ll check out JFE, thank you! I saw it’s got mixed reviews on Amazon but I’ll give it a second chance haha

It’s actually really good to know about the workbook not being necessary, thanks for letting me know, I was on the edge of ordering both which would have cost me £££. I think I’ll see if I can get it secondhand somewhere, thanks so much for your help![quote=“lucianoctrl, post:15, topic:18451, full:true”]
Japanese from zero books and video series are awesome

Ooooh another vote for series makes me intrigued, I’ll have a look at their books, thank you![quote=“riccyjay, post:16, topic:18451, full:true”]
I second Japanese for Everyone. I’ve never seen it mentioned on here before and I have no idea why. I’m pretty sure it covers most of Genki I and II in one volume, doesn’t needs any separate workbook and is far cheaper. It’s a little old and the audio is now hard to find, but there’s so much free listening available on the interwebs these days that’s not much of a drawback. It moves quite quickly but it is absolutely packed with material and - what makes it different from a lot of other books - has loads of practice exercises to do, making it great for self learners.

In that case I’ll definitely have a look at JFE, I saw it on Amazon but having no one mentioning it here put me off a bit. I’ll definitely consider it. thank you!

I’ve not heard of that one but I’ll check it out, thanks!

Haven’t seen anyone mention it yet but Tae Kim’s Grammar Guide guide is really good and it’s free (online) They also have a physical copy which is cheap if I remember correctly

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I’m reading it now and I love it. Now i love it. I tried 15 levels ago. That was hard. I made anki decks so i could cram the vocabs i needed but still…

I also recommend the Japanese From Zero series. Keep in mind that it introduces kana in each chapter and uses romaji for “unlearned” kana, so it might be a bit weird for you if you already know them. I thought the first two books were fantastic, but the third dragged a bit.

Yes, I was just going to mention as seanblue said - while the Japanese From Zero books are good the first one teaches about 5 hiragana characters each chapter and then integrates them (along with grammar). The second book does the same with katakana. The third and fourth does that with kanji.

Japanese From Zero 1-4 cover about all the same beginner grammar points Japanese the Manga Way covers. And from what I’ve gathered JFZ is roughly equivalent to Genki 1&2. So make sure you aren’t getting too much redundant material.
(I did JFZ 1-4)

I would stick with maybe one book at first and something to cross reference it like a free online site or dictionary of basic japanese grammar (strictly a grammar reference book)

If you decide to go for Genki try Abebooks.com. I got a Genki textbook off there for $20 including shipping and duty.

Throwing in my vote for Genki btw :slight_smile: Very well-rounded textbook. I looked through Japanese the Manga Way while doing Genki, and love it as a resource to give some extra insight into some grammar points, but I wouldn’t have replaced Genki with it as a main textbook.

I haven’t tried other textbooks though so I’m Genki biased =P


Searching for Genki II that way it’s not nearly that cheap… $30-35 before another $5 for shipping, depending if it’s the first or second edition textbook. [On Abebooks]

How long ago did you purchase it for that price? Did you mean both I and II for $20 (which would be an even better deal)?

It was about a year ago, just Genki II. Both copes for $20 would have been a true steal!

I see a Genki II on there for $29 shipping and exchange included, which is the cheapest… but yeah, the offerings definitely vary from month to month! There was an even cheaper copy a couple weeks before I bought mine but it got snapped up.

Hmm… Variable sites like that are hard to shop from. XD

Think of it like going into a used bookstore :wink: Except there are like a million sellers pricing everything totally differently… …er, yeah. It is hard.

I found a Genki book but I don’t understand if it’s actually cheap or it’s another kind of book

That’s an answer key for both textbook and workbook


There are five textbooks in the Genki Series.

Genki I
Genki I: Workbook
Genki II
Genki II: Workbook
Genki Answer Key

The workbooks contain a bunch of practice questions for the stuff you learn in the main textbooks. They’re completely optional though generally recommended. The Answer Key is a single book that contains all of the correct answers for both workbooks. From what I’ve heard, the entire book is in Japanese.


Aw I thought it was strange to find it cheap so easily :joy:

If you are going to buy the Genki (or any japanese study) books, I would recommend buying them from amazon.co.jp

Shipping is cheap and the difference in costs compared to buying it here is insane (at least in The Netherlands, where the Genki textbook already costs between 80 and 120 euros, lol). I think I saved about 170 euros total for the whole set…

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@neicul Hello fellow Dutch person! :raising_hand_man:

(So there’s at least two of us on WK! Are there more Netherlanders, any idea?)

Me I’ve been holding off on buying Japanese The Manga Way because of the romaji. It seems like it makes stuff too easy / distracting. How is this with Japanese From Zero, Japanese For Everyone, and Genki? Anyone want to shed some light on this?

I’ve never used Japanese From Zero, but in Japanese for Everyone it’s only for the first 5 lessons, and pretty unobtrusive. The first lesson’s dialogue has romaji underneath each line of text, which I found distracting, but for the next one the romaji is pretty far away from the Japanese text (so you would only look at it if you “want to”, rather than seeing it underneath the kana and being distracted by it). The only other time it is used is in introducing vocabulary words; the exercises don’t use romaji.

I can’t describe Genki’s as exactly as I don’t have the book on me, however, I remember the romaji being very distracting and lasting for longer than it does in JFE. I actually cut out pieces of painter’s tape and put it over every romaji in the book (lol).

The romaji in Japanese From Zero is one of the reasons I had to quit using it, actually. It’s throughout the whole book. Each chapter introduces five new hiragana characters, and so the vocab you read will actually be a mixture of romaji and hiragana. Definitely was not my thing.

Genki uses romaji for the first chapter or two, and then shifts to hiragana and kanji. It does not mix it like Japanese From Zero.


I really, really liked Minna no Nihongo. I still think that you should have some kind of tutor or something that you check in with, but minna no nihongo breaks apart all of the skills and has tons of practice options and is not designed with a “class” in mind. It’s the more typically used textbook if you study in Japan (this is my understanding at least), but it is really pretty unpopular for some reason in the US. Largely, I think, because it’s expensive.

If I was starting out today, I’d probably use either minna no nihongo or text fugu.

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Ha! Finally another Dutchie! I think I only ever saw one other Dutch person here before because they voted Dutch on some language poll.

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