The Genki Serie

One of the Japanese textbooks, and probably, among the best ones are the Genki series. This book series is being used in American classrooms and is a highly popular series among students who are yet at the beginning level. The Genki books are primarily designed for university and college courses. This page will give you a rundown of what the Genki series of textbooks has to offer and, then, it will be up for you to decide if this particular book series will be useful for you.

All About Genki

A two-volume Japanese textbook, Genki was first published by The Japan Times in 1999. It was later revised and updated in 2011. Since it was released, the Genki textbooks are widely used in Japanese university classes in North America.

It is intended to help learners fully understand Japanese by using a sensible approach to four language skills, namely speaking, listening, writing, and reading. So, if you are trying to learn a few basic Japanese expressions, this book will not teach you that.

The two books in the series contain 23 lessons covering a wide range of elementary grammar points; around 300 kanji and 1,100 vocabulary terms.

The key as to why Genki has been a popular choice for studying Japanese is that it presents lessons in settings that are very familiar with the students. This way, they can quickly identify with the situation so they can easily remember frequently used vocabulary words, expressions, and grammar rules. On the other hand, the sections on reading and writing use letters, e-mail, diary entries, and other commonly used materials.

It presents grammar lessons in fun ways. The aim is to stimulate students. Thus, different activities are integrated into each exercise, such as illustrations, dialogues, role-playing, games, and other activities that are meant to be done in pairs or groups.

The book also contains many notes and discussion points out that the students can read on their own before each class. By doing so, more time may be devoted to lessons and exercises because the students can do advanced readings.

Genki I

The first book contains 12 lessons with a Culture Notes section. The companion Workbook for Genki I contains grammar exercises, listening practices, and kanji drills. There are also questions which are designed in such a way that the student will compose their answers, based on what they have learned from the lessons.


Genki II

Genki II, on the other hand, contains ten lessons which are divided into two parts. The first one is the Conversation and Grammar section complete with English explanations. The second one, the Reading and Writing section, is an exercise of the student’s four language skills—reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.


Genki Workbook Answers

The Workbook contains several other practice exercises that will reinforce and strengthen what you have learned from the textbook. The practice exercises found in the Workbook are entirely different from that of the book.

There sentence translation exercises; several reading comprehension activities; and listening practice in the form of audio files.

Lessons structure



Genki’s strongest point, the grammar section includes a commentary that is written in English and students are expected to read those before each lesson. The explanations are concise and complete; however, there are no elaborations. Genki will teach a point, how it works, and then give an example.



this section is divided into nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and other expressions. Each list is further divided into columns of hiragana, kanji, and English translations. Overall, the two books in the Genki series contains 1700 vocabulary words. It would be best if you remembered that you have to learn as much vocabulary, as possible, as it will greatly help you when you study grammar.



The first two lessons are kana—hiragana and katakana. It is nice that the book teaches kana even in the early parts of the book. For the self-learners, there are kana tables and charts to help them check their work. The rest of the lessons are all kanji. However, it would help if you did some advanced learning because there is not much time for trial, and you have to proceed to practice exercises. You have the option to buy a separate workbook for that, or you may also buy yourself graph papers.



The Dialogue section starts with three or more dialogues in Japanese, followed by its translated version in English. These dialogues are made up of information from the previous lessons and from those you are about to study. While reading each conversation, you might get stuck at some point, and this is caused by new stuff that you are about to explore.



The Practice section checks what you have learned and understood from the previous parts. You may find that some exercises are repeated, but it is done so to reinforce some essential points. However, the activities have enough variety in them to keep the interest of the students.

Additional benefits

Overall, the hype about the Genki textbooks is justified by the way lessons are meticulously and thoughtfully presented. It is still a perfect choice of a book for those who are just in the primary stage of learning the Japanese language. What you will learn will be there with you for your entire lifetime. Remember that having the right materials for learning Japanese is crucial. The right ones will motivate you to learn while the wrong ones will not teach you the right way, and you will only end up disappointed with yourself.


Expression Notes

Expression Notes are among the breakout boxes not mentioned in the Table of Contents. They are inserted in the lesson to provide clarification or for additional information to support the teaching. The Expression Notes can anticipate questions from the students and help clear things out.


Useful Expressions

As the name suggests, these are lists of vocabulary and set phrases used in daily life. Aside from that, it also offers clarification on some things which are not visible, at first. These expressions are beneficial, especially for those who might take a short visit to Japan and needed to equip themselves with some basic phrases to help them survive and enjoy the trip.


Culture Notes

Just like what has been previously mentioned, the Culture Notes provides some information about the Japanese culture that is related to the lesson. Unlike the Expression Notes, the Culture Notes are listed in the Table of Contents.

The CD

It is good news that the companion CD is now bundled with the purchase of the textbook. The Genki audio files are definitely of good quality and perfectly complement those lessons in the books.

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