When should I start using textbooks?

I have hit level 5 and I was wondering “when should I use my textbook?” so what level should I start using them?

At this point, you have a strong base of kanji and vocabulary. If you are using WaniKani, you should be at level 10 or above. If you are doing kanji on your own, or using another resource, you should know the most common meaning and reading of around 300 kanji and 1,000 vocabulary words… With this assumption about your knowledge in place, we’re going to go through some options for how you can learn Japanese grammar. This includes using a textbook as well as creating your own grammar program from scratch.

From Tofugu’s (aka WK) Guide

Personally speaking, I think that’s overly conservative depending on the resource. A Genki user (or any other book/platform that is beginner friendly) can totally start sooner, especially in classroom setting where the pace is a chapter a week or more (the books only use around 300 kanji total iirc).

For something like Bunpro familiarity with the appropriate N level wordlist is more important, but a WK benchmark could be estimated using wkstats


I’ll pretend you’re asking when to start studying grammar, as opposed to when to start using a textbook specifically.



you will get to the point where you realize you need to start learning grammar at that moment. If you dont need right now when consuming some media, dont force it.

for me it was 2 months ago (lvl 33 in WK) I started bunpro to understand better the sentences in articles. Before that I wanted only to keep increasing my vocab.

So far so good.

I could never get into books. Boooooring. I just watch videos and read about grammar on the internet and from various sources: podcasts, satori, easy manga, shows (terrace, midnight diner, etc), human Japanese, YouTube (misa, cure dolly, George, etc), all about particles book, and many other free sources I find online.

I didn’t need books to learn English and I won’t need books to learn Japanese (well, I did buy the all about particles book Lol).

But definitely try genki or others if you are set on with learning via books!




I think I started Minna no Nihongo around level 6, and it has gone fine for me! The textbook vocab will get easier to learn the more kanji you learn, but with beginner textbooks, you can certainly learn words just from the kana and then use the furigana to read the text if you don’t know the kanji yet.

I think it helps to have a handful of levels down before diving in, but I don’t think you have to wait until level 10! I’m glad I didn’t wait because I’m two months ahead of where I’d be in grammar if I had waited.

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In case you didn’t see this thread, there’s a study group opportunity for Genki 1 (from Jan 15) and 2 (from Jan 8). It looks like it’s going to be led by a couple of native Japanese speakers. They will be posting the material so you don’t necessarily need the book, but it would probably help so you can study ahead if you need to.

At level 5, you already have a good basis of vocab to be able to learn how to form simple sentences, learn verb conjugations, particles, etc. I used Genki in university along with the workbook for writing practice, and it was very useful. You get to follow the story of Mary, an American student who transfers to Japan, so you learn more vocab and grammar as you read about a new experience she’s encountering. There’s humor, there’s romance, cheesy stuff sometimes but somewhat entertaining!

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Manga are books…

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I have gotten through Chapter 12 of Minna No Nihongo before my teacher told me about WaniKani! The completely different grammar structures from English are super challenging for me and all I needed to know to start learning was kana. I think learning grammar as soon as possible will also help you with learning kanji because you can start using them in real sentences which will make them stick better.

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Lol I know. I was just commenting on books that teach you Japanese. Can’t do those that’s all :slight_smile:

Manga does teach you Japanese…ha ha I know what you mean. :upside_down_face:

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I started with RocketLanguages.com first and learned kana there and began the conversations from there. When I started WK, I already knew some words, which made it easier when I encountered them in kanji. So do what you feel ready for when you feel ready for it.