This topic has been brought up a million times and it will be brought up a million times more. As most newbies, I am overwhelmed by the huge amount of resources. This keeps me from building a solid study plan for the next two years or more. Not having a solid grasp on how I want to go about learning japanese is making me really uncertain.
Thus, I want to ask you in a pretty blunt manner, what is the best grammar resource out there? From what I’ve seen, every level 60 recommends something different and I don’t know what to pick anymore. Though I’ve seen “Genki” and “Tae Kim’s guide” come up a few times. One comment even mentioned Genki as a godsend, asking to dedicate my life and soul to it. Okay, not really.
Should I go with Genki? With Tae kim? At which level? Someone said that waiting a certain WK level to start is a bad idea, and the grammar should be studied from the start.
If all I had to do was choosing between Genki or Tae Kim’s guide, I wouldn’t have written this stupid, redundant post, but some people are actually using manuals! And what if there’s a legendary hidden gem resource that will elevate my grammar to a godly level really efficiently?
tl;dr I am really confused as to what grammar resource should I choose, and from which level should I start learning the grammar because there’s so much to choose from.
Thank you for checking out my annoying post. I would really appreciate your help!
The answer is different for everyone. I didn’t gel with Tae Kim or みんなの日本語 at all. Not saying they are bad resources, I just can’t get through it while retaining sufficient information.
A combination of the CureDolly youtube channel and BunPro works very well for me. CureDolly just manages to explain things in a way that I understand and can remember.
About when to do it? Same answer. Different per person. I needed to really get used to building a study habit that I could keep up with 7 days a week. Initially, that had grammar falling largely by the wayside.
I’d pick up grammar as a daily thing, end up feeling like I’d burn out, and dropping it again. But I kept trying every few weeks / months, and eventually I was used enough to my learning routine to make grammar fit.
I’d say the grammar resource that’s good is the one that you’ll actually finish. No matter how lauded or niche the resource is. If you walk away understanding more than when you started, and you can get yourself to commit to it; that’s the winner.
So be prepared to potentially try out multiple things, because we can only tell you what worked for us. Individual available time, energy, affinity for grammar, knowledge of grammar, and learning habits means no resource will ever be a fit for everyone.
You should have a look at some different resources, try a few and then just start learning. You can always change your rescource if it turns out not be very helpful to you (especially if it is available for free).
You are right about that! I was the same way when I started. Everyone will have different advice so sadly it is almost which thing will gel with you the best. @Omun didn’t gel with Tae Kim or みんなの日本語. For me, I didn’t gel with Tae Kim, but I LOVE みんなの日本語!
I learned Hiragana/Katakana and started with Kanji right away in my Japanese learning. For me, Genki didn’t really gel. I started out reading a little of it but learning Japanese in English and with romaji wasn’t my thing. (I know it gets different later on, but from the beginning I couldn’t get used to it) So when I found Minna No Nihongo, I fell in love with it! It forced me to actually read Japanese which I like a lot, and it gave me a lot of practice doing so without the hand-holding of the English right alongside. I can still read more in English if I need to, but it doesn’t require it.
I literally just tried all the suggestions until I found what worked best for me, I know that is not a “Which is the best way” sort of answer…but it “the best way” is what works for you, what you enjoy, what keeps you learning, and what keeps you motivated. Since there are so many great options, you just have to figure out which one is “the best” for you. Have fun!!
Answer: there is no best resource. You need to find the best resource that matches your learning style. In order for us to tell you what resource works best for you, we need to know a little more about you. Is this your first foreign language? What are your ultimate goals for learning Japanese?
My first foreign language is English. I’ve had some experience with German at school but because I wasn’t really that interested in learning it and my teacher was absolutely horrible, I don’t know it that well, but I could get it going if I practiced a little.
My goals are pretty cliche and average - exploring the Japanese internet, reading Japanese twitters and talking to Japanese people, consuming untranslated japanese media and even translating it myself. It’s a gateway to a new world. This is pretty embarassing to say actually.
Though this isn’t really info you can use to help me choose a resource. I think something fun and bite-sized would be good? Even though I do have a fair amount of free time, I would still prefer bite-sized. That being said, I might change my schedule depending on what comes up. How does two hours of studying per day sound?
I am currently searching for information on Genki and Minna no Nihongo. Thank you for your suggestions!
One thing would be that I don’t really think I need handwriting practice for now.
I’m still pretty new to the grammar myself, and I’ve been trying out various resources. The one that has worked best for me so far is the youtube channel “Japanese Ammo with Misa”. Misa’s videos cover various grammar topics clearly and with plenty of examples and usage explanations. She has a playlist of videos for “Absolute beginners” which is a good place to start. Plus, it’s free, so I think it’s worth checking out at least to see if it matches your learning style.
You might as well check out Taekim as well, because it’s free and online. Since it’s free, it wouldn’t hurt at all (compared to buying a genki book). I started with Taekim and really enjoyed it. I didn’t finish it all but one grammar point a day and quite quickly was able to read basic stuff. Also, did I mention it’s free?
I don’t like Genki for a couple reasons: 1) romaji 2) pacing 3) vocabulary mixed with grammar 4) the way they introduce polite vs. casual grammar. I revisited Genki after I did a lot of Taekim and didn’t enjoy it. If you’re having trouble remembering Taekim stuff, throw the example sentences into an anki deck.
Answer: it doesn’t matter. It’s more worth it to flip a coin and pick one than do no grammar. If you really just can’t put up with the resource you pick, then just switch. You’ll still have learned stuff so it’s not like you will have wasted your time.
I say go with tae Kim. It’s free, detailed, and gives you everything you need for a foundation in grammar. And if you want my advice, just get started on it today and don’t overthink grammar studies. People do that way too much, so I wouldn’t add yourself to their group.
Personally, I wanted to avoid spending money at all and it has worked so far. I use a more practical approach and try to translate Japanese text and speech, what is completely free! First, I find the stuff I want to translate, usually it’s some Japanese wikipedia page or an anime episode script. Then, when I have the text, I open some Japanese dictionary and google, where I search words and conjugation tables. Sometimes I use free basic grammar teaching sites (wikiversity for example) and write down the stuff taught there. I also follow r/learnjapanese on Reddit what provides nice material and help.
After a while, I wanted to give a textbook a try and bought one written in my native language, just to see if I had actually learned anything. And, I was surprised to see that the book barely taught me anything new, just confirmed stuff I had already learned.
My approach may not be the best and most reliable, but for me it worked well. Anyway, good luck with finding a suitable strategy for you.
Wait until you’re level 10, then start Lingodeer. Finish Japanese 1 when you’re level 20 and start Japanese 2. Finish that when you’re level 30 and start Tobira. Oh and start Bunpro at some point, it’s meant to be used to retain the grammar, not to learn so start it fairly late, around level 20 or 25.
Another different opinion to throw on top of the answers you’ve already collected, but. The only book I got through from page to page is “Japanese the Manga Way”. I couldn’t get on with Genki, anything textbook-like feels awful to me. For you, you’ll probably also hate a couple popular resources others will suggest, and that’s normal. Nobody will be able to tell what you’ll enjoy, so you’ll have to try some until you find something that you can live with. Because ultimately by the end, it doesn’t matter. Every resource will simply give you a base. What matters is you persistently keeping up with that resource, and reading as much as possible after you start reading.
Really whatever resource you choose as a beginner, eventually you’ll learn the same things just not in the same order.
I went through Genki I and II first and really enjoyed my time studying them. Genki’s aim is to give you a good base, not to progress fast, so maybe you won’t learn an immense amount of content but what you will have is a strong base which will allow you to progress faster with other textbooks.
I then moved on to Tobira (which is by far my favorite textbook) and Shin Kanzen master series for N3, N2, N1. These books, contrary to Genki, are made to progress fast and to give you a whole lot of new grammar and content, there’s less explanations and less holding you by the hand (that’s why a good base is essential).
I also have みんなの日本語 which was gifted to me, but after using it for a week it felt quite bland, I liked the audio exercises though.
As for when you should start grammar, the answer is now. Beginner textbooks don’t expect you to know any kanji, so furigana will always be used and you’ll eventually learn all of the kanji through WaniKani faster than the textbooks expect you to.
Lastly I’d like to point out that whatever choice you make, you will always regret doing useless things you thought were helping you. The most efficient studying plan that fits your needs will come to you through trial and error
IMHO, Japanese the Spoken Language (JSL) has by far the best grammar explanations.
I think it depends whether you prefer a more systematic exposition.
I didn’t like Tae Kim at all, his explanations are a bit too adhoc for me.
I actually like that JSL uses romaji, it makes it a lot easier to see the patterns and concentrate on the grammar, at least if you’re not proficient at reading kana/kanji yet.