Taking the world less travelled

Learning Japanese Gets Genki: A Review

Posted by on Feb 27, 2009 in Language | 8 comments

_genki1 Rate This Textbook: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

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Genki is a very popular textbook, and it was this popularity that convinced me to make it the first text book I bought, and began my quest to learn Japanese. This was back sometime in 2005 and I was self studying. It was my first attempt at learning a language, apart from some years earlier in school in Italian and Japanese.

I went about learning Japanese by myself all wrong. I was excited about it, but didn’t really persue it as fully as I could of. I did not research how to learn languages, and when I got stuck on page 58, titled “Verb Conjugation” and didn’t understand, I didn’t go searching for an explanation elsewhere that would help me understand. And so I stopped learning Japanese. I didn’t exactly “give up”, it’s just that learning Japanese sort of fizzled out into the back ground and I didn’t pick up Genki again until the end of 2006 when I had decided I wanted to study Japanese at university.

Genki is a good text book, it is popular for a reason.
good It weeds out romaji very quickly and never uses only romaji. By lesson 3 you better know your hiragana and katakana!
good It has long, clear explanations of grammar points.
good The text book is set out clearly. The font is large, which is great for beginners trying to look at all the strokes in kanji characters.
good Lots of focus on exercises.
good Great focus on reading and writing, as well as grammar points.

However, there are some points that I didn’t like about Genki, in particular for those self studying.
bad I felt like it did not give me enough examples.
bad There is no answer key, you have to buy it separately! I think this is a huge minus. Sure, a language doesn’t exactly follow “rules” but learning from one’s mistakes is a huge part of learning something, and that opportunity is missed.
bad I feel like you don’t get much bang for your buck with Genki. Even though I said the layout was great and offered lots of space, the compromise is that there isn’t as much substance in there as other text books.
bad Most of the exercises are best for class room/group participation or you need to purchase the audio. It is a well rounded text with the audio, but that plus the answer key – well, it ain’t cheap!


So those are the pros and cons of Genki from my perspective. Over all I think Genki is, while not perfect for me, a great text book.


Buy Genki


  • Purchase from TheJapanShop.com
  • Purchase from Amazon.com


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Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. yonasu

    We use the Genki books at my university. They’re pretty good but they’re really better suited for people who are not self studying. But if you have someone you can do the class room exercises with I’d say go for it.

  2. darren

    so i will need an answer key to all of this? are there clever sites that i can learn hiragana and katakana? what about a Japanese software made by Declan? any other books, material, etc that you would recommend? Any opinions would be appreciated!

  3. darren

    i am self studying, so anything that can get me going before i decide to take it at a university. thanks

  4. Jonadab

    > are there clever sites that i can learn hiragana and katakana

    As far as the kana, I just looked up katakana and hiragana on Wikipedia and made my own flashcards. Worked for me. For kanji, though, I really think a spaced repetition system is better.

  5. Girolle

    Isn’t the answer key entirely in Kanji?

  6. Iraida Eddleman

    This is a fantastic blog you have here

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