Beginning Japanese Part 2: Choose a Resource

japanese textbook resources
This is part 2 of my Beginning Japanese series. Check out part 1, if you haven’t read that yet.

If by using the Dr. Moku app or Kana flash cards you learned Hiragana, that’s excellent. The next step would be to learn Katakana, but it is not necessary if you want to start seeing some basic sentences. I do recommend going back and learning Katakana once you start making progress in a textbook or app, so don’t forget!

Now that you have learned Hiragana, it’s time to apply that knowledge by diving into a textbook or learning vocabulary words. Here are some great Japanese resources for jumping in.By learning the Hiragana early, you’ve already saved yourself a lot of time and effort. When you come across sections in a book or app that help you make the transition to reading only in Hiragana, you won’t struggle!

There are so many books and resources online, but I want to pick a few that I deem worth your time! There’s nothing worse than getting excited to learn something only to find out that the resource you picked isn’t very good.

Analog Resources:

Genki: Elementary Japanese
Genki Elementary Japanese

Here is a sample of inside:
Genki Elementary Japanese Preview
I personally went through this textbook series and I can vouch for how great it is at giving people a great base to start learning Japanese. There’s a revised edition now, which includes audio CDs as well as updated dialogues. The Genki series consists of the main textbook (with audio CDs for dialogues), a workbook, and an answer book. I recommend buying the textbook and grabbing the answer book if possible. If you don’t have the answer book, you won’t be able to check if you’re doing the activities correctly on the quizzes.

I went through both level 1 and level 2 of this series and I think it’s one of the best books that helps you gain a balanced knowledge of topics and grammar. Truly one of the best Japanese textbook resources I’ve come across.

Note: There is another textbook series called “Minna no Nihongo” that gets recommended a lot, but I feel it lacks clarity and direction, resulting in more confusion than anything else.

Digital Resources

TextFugu
textfugu

Textfugu is a website created by a guy who was tired of seeing people becoming stuck and bored in stale textbooks. The goal is to be a constantly updated resource for learning Japanese. Through the use of videos, pictures, and witty writing, there’s a good chance you’ll pick up motivation and additional study techniques. This is a paid service, but you can experience the first “season” for free! You have nothing to lose, so I suggest you give TextFugu a chance if you prefer to go the digital route and don’t want to use analog textbooks.

Human Japanese
humanjapanese

Human Japanese is an application for your computer or smartphone. Its goal is to walk you through learning Japanese in a timely, but informative manner. Compared to TextFugu, it is less wordy and not trying to entertain you. If you’re okay with that, then Human Japanese is an excellent way to start learning Japanese without needing a textbook.

Memrise
memrise

Memrise is a site that consists of many different “courses” that were created by its users. There are many people on the site that are learning Japanese and have created many different courses for Japanese. I don’t recommend Memrise for someone that has no foundation in the language. If you’re somewhat experienced, Memrise has some great Japanese resources.

This site will be the most beneficial to you if used as a way to stock up on vocabulary. In other words, once you know a bit of grammar and have settled down with a textbook or other learning resource, Memrise is a great complement that will continue to serve you from the beginner level all the way to advanced.

Note for users of Genki Elementary Japanese or Minna no Nihongo textbook: Memrise has lots of courses that match the chapters in your book for vocabulary. If you find yourself struggling to get through chapters, try reviewing/learning the vocabulary from the chapter you just finished or the next chapter. It will make learning the grammar points much easier when you are already familiar with the terms!

Japanese Resources: Final Thoughts

The resources above are ones that I have personally used or experimented with and thought they were well-made. If you have a recommended resource or questions about how to proceed, feel free to contact me and let me know!

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