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"Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook comparisons.

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"Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook comparisons.

Postby phreadom » Sun 10.24.2010 8:41 am

(This is a copy of a reply on the Introductions forum, but the content really seemed like it belonged here in the Learning Materials section.)

I have Genki I (and the workbook, answer book (which covers Genki I and II), and audio CD to go along with it) and I really like it. :)

I think getting a textbook is a great idea because it provides you with a structured path forward so that you can mark your progression and have confidence that you're learning solid and accurate material etc.

I also have Japanese For Everyone which is much more compact with less hand holding, but covers roughly the same amount of material as Genki I and II in one book with the answers and a vocabulary index included in the back.

I can confidently recommend both. :)

Genki I goes at a slower pace and does a lot more explanation etc... it also starts with formal Japanese and doesn't start introducing informal Japanese until several chapters in. While this, in my opinion, makes it easier to understand as you go forward, I was anxious to start learning informal/casual Japanese so that I could better understand the Japanese I saw in the TJP chat room and in tv shows, anime, etc.

Japanese For Everyone dives right in with casual Japanese (along with the formal) right from the start and expects you to be comfortable reading kana without romaji by the time you start lesson 2 on page ~32 (kanji are introduced as you go, and furigana included the first few times you see them until they feel you should be familiar with them). You'll spend more time referencing back to material you've covered, or charts for conjugations, or looking up words in the back etc... but it keeps a good pace and if you don't mind having to do that extra bit of work, you can really start to feel that you're gaining a functional grasp of the language sooner (again, in my opinion). Basically less hand holding and much more dense, but excellent material that you can start applying immediately.

I'll attach an image from each to give you an idea what I mean.

The JFE book is much more dense and introduces things right as you move along, so that a grammar point is introduced and you are questioned on it immediately afterward, generally right on the same page etc. Vocabulary is introduced integrated into the material as you go and new words have their definitions given sometimes at the bottom of the pages, or sometimes following a section of text etc. I often don't notice these until after I've already looked up a new word in the back of the book. ;)

Each lesson starts with 2 pages of an ongoing story about the characters Michael and Barbara Webb (and their friends and coworkers etc) written in Japanese that you need to try to understand. Each story is meant to be a little beyond your current level as it will be introducing new grammar points and vocabulary that you'll be covering in that lesson. By the end of it they'll give you a reading comprehension test to see if you've gained enough new understanding from the lesson to understand a paragraph they give you and be able to answer some questions about it.

It's a bit more intense over all, and I believe the audio material is no longer available(?). But for the price it's a great deal.

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JFE thumbnail
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Japanese For Everyone
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Genki is much more spacious, as roughly the same level of advancement that JFE has in a single book is spread out over 2 textbooks with Genki that are each roughly the size of JFE or slightly larger, AND a workbook for each, AND a separate answer book (and they still have all the audio available in multiple formats, both with and without the pauses to allow you to practice along etc). ;) So obviously they have a lot more room to lay things out, explain things, make things nice and neat and orderly etc. Vocabulary for a chapter is all introduced on 2 pages at the beginning of a chapter so that you can easily work on memorizing it before you begin the chapter, or refer back to it as need be. There are also dialog pages at the beginning of each chapter, similar to JFE which feature a cast of generally recurring characters. Grammar points are then covered over the next several pages with plenty of explanations and examples before you move into the practice section where you are quizzed on what you've learned. Occasionally there will be a page or two to cover specific cultural points, or vocabulary particular to something like visiting the Post Office or Camera Shop etc.

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Genki I thumbnail
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Genki I
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Genki was my first real textbook and really gave me a lot of confidence to move forward with my studies by making me comfortable with a relatively easy and enjoyable learning experience. I picked up JFE later at the request of a friend who also had it and wanted someone to be able to work together with. It was easier to dive right into JFE by then because I'd already gone through about 10 chapters in Genki and was already comfortable with the kana and a number of basic kanji and vocabulary etc. I'm really glad I got both of them for different reasons. :)

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Genki I textbook, workbook I, answer key (covers I and II), and audio I (short version), and the Japanese For Everyone textbook
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Hopefully this information was helpful to you. :bow:
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby Dustin » Sun 10.24.2010 1:21 pm

Awesome comparison, I'll have to remember and post this in the future!
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby ss » Mon 10.25.2010 10:18 am

Justin,
I'm quite impressed to see the work you put in there, well organized, very good comparison.
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby phreadom » Mon 10.25.2010 10:49 am

SS wrote:Justin,
I'm quite impressed to see the work you put in there, well organized, very good comparison.


ありがとうございます SSさん! :D and welcome back to the forum! :mrgreen:
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby StarryNeko » Sat 07.02.2011 11:58 am

Not to troll bump or anything, but I have Genki I and Genki II. In your opinion, should I buy Japanese for Everyone in addition to what I have? Does it contain critical points that the Genki books do not?
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby phreadom » Sat 07.02.2011 9:37 pm

Since I haven't finished either of them (I only got as far as Genki I chapter 10 before switching to JFE in which I'm only at lesson 9), I can't really say. :) I have and like both, so I don't see how it could really hurt... but my guess is that Genki I and II cover about the same level of material as is covered in JFE. So you should be fine with either alone I'd think... :think:

I'd need someone who has gone through them more in depth and finished them to really make a statement about what stuff one might cover that the other doesn't.
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby StarryNeko » Wed 07.06.2011 12:26 pm

What happened lol?
Was there a specific reason why you stopped either textbooks?
Are you studying a better textbook now?
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby phreadom » Wed 07.06.2011 12:51 pm

It was nothing wrong with the books. :D They're both great. :)

I switched from Genki to JFE so that I could study along with Dustin, and got as far as Lesson 9 in JFE before I got sidetracked with work. I find it very hard to focus both on intense web development and learning Japanese... it's like trying to use two conflicting parts of my brain at the same time. :P

I still plan on continuing with JFE when I get the time. :)
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby hitokiri679 » Mon 07.25.2011 11:33 am

Very nice review. I also used each of those textbooks at one point, mainly the second volume of genki and the middle portion of JFE.

Something I would add:

If I remember correctly, the language used in Genki was kind of stilted and unnatural. Looking at JFE now (I don't have Genki anymore), the conversations look more authentic. I think this was one of the things that makes JFE more difficult, because it tended not to explain every last detail of usage, though the actual grammar explanations were excellent. It really is tragic that the tapes for JFE are impossible to find.

Also, the language in JFE is much more oriented towards life and business in Japan. Regardless, the thing is $17 on Amazon (in the U.S.), so Genki people should definitely pick it up as a supplement.
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby StarryNeko » Sun 07.31.2011 8:26 pm

hitokiri679 wrote:Very nice review. I also used each of those textbooks at one point, mainly the second volume of genki and the middle portion of JFE.

Something I would add:

If I remember correctly, the language used in Genki was kind of stilted and unnatural. Looking at JFE now (I don't have Genki anymore), the conversations look more authentic. I think this was one of the things that makes JFE more difficult, because it tended not to explain every last detail of usage, though the actual grammar explanations were excellent. It really is tragic that the tapes for JFE are impossible to find.

Also, the language in JFE is much more oriented towards life and business in Japan. Regardless, the thing is $17 on Amazon (in the U.S.), so Genki people should definitely pick it up as a supplement.


Hmmm interesting. Could you elaborate on what you mean by stilted and unnatural in terms of examples? Genki covers casual conversations like short forms, so why would it be unnatural? Also, you mention that it's more oriented towards life and business. What would you say Genki is oriented towards? I'm a college student right now, so I thought Genki was the way to go.

I'll see if I can throw some more cash =_= into buying JFE, but I already spent so much money on the Genki and Intermediate Japanese.
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby hitokiri679 » Sun 07.31.2011 9:46 pm

Again, I don't have Genki anymore, and at the time my class was focusing on the reading portion (we used another textbook as our main book), so I can't give specific examples, but I'll at least try to explain better. (I'm a college student too, by the way.)

By "unnatural", I wasn't referring to plain vs polite Japanese (they do use both in the right ways, and keigo too I think). Actually, "artificial" would be the better term to use.

Anyway, what I meant was that the conversations themselves were unnatural - things like unlikely situations (talking to the police officer about your house being robbed) and awkward choice of words and phrasing. It's not like it's altogether wrong, but if you had never seen or heard any examples from other sources, you might end up with a very poor understanding of how Japanese people actually speak.

I also hear that the choice of vocab is often random and outdated (They're finally in the process of releasing the 2nd edition - yay!). Again, I wasn't looking at the spoken section vocab since we mainly used the readings.

To be fair, JFE hasn't changed much (at all?) in 20 years either, but it's not the one that major universities are using (it's too brief, it doesn't really teach Kanji, and the audio tapes are impossible to obtain).

In comparison, the "Adventures in Japanese" series that I used for several years in high school was truly excellent. Nothing from volumes 3/4 that series (equivalent to Genki 2) contradicted my experiences elsewhere. The problem with these books is that they are prohibitively expensive: about $50 / volume x 4 volumes, not including audio, workbooks, etc. (Published by Cheng & Tsui, in case you still want to go after them, perhaps on Amazon.)

As for the thematic content of the books, be aware that Genki is mostly focused on situations a college student might encounter: school life and maybe a homestay in Japan. The readings covered some good cultural information, but I'm not so sure there was enough "in Japan" type spoken content.

JFE is the absolute opposite; it focuses two adults on business assignment in Japan, so there's a business focus and also some everyday life situations, like hanami (flower viewing), going to the bank, etc.

So, StarryNeko, definitely use Genki, just be aware that you'll want something else in addition to it. The nice thing about JFE is that it's dirt cheap for the value provided (nice content, grammar explanations, and exercises) and it's the same level.

I don't know of any other cheap beginning level books with good language content, but for advanced beginner and intermediate stuff, Whiterabbitpress.com is a very good place to look. I have one particular recommendation:

Shadowing: Let's Speak Japanese (Beg/Int edition) <http://www.whiterabbitpress.com/product.php?productid=16500> - Audio CD + book for speaking practice, JLPT N5 to N2 in level. Read the description to learn how it's used. Very clear speech to follow, very natural Japanese. $22 + shipping as of right now.

That ended up being rather long winded. Long story short: supplement Genki a bit and you'll be just fine.
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby sampaguita » Thu 02.21.2013 9:23 pm

The first Japanese textbook that I really liked was Japanese for Everyone. I LOVED grammar more than vocabulary and kanji, so this book was really for me -- it gave all the grammar points in a very concise manner, and I learned a lot of grammar in such a short time. In contrast, I got really bored with Minna no Nihongo -- the pace was so SLOW.

I've seen Genki -- my brother uses it in school -- and I find it TONS better than Minna no Nihongo. The level of explanation is also at par with JFE. I would recommend Genki if you want a more holistic learning experience, but definitely JFE for grammar geeks who want to learn the most grammar in the least possible time.
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby TheDevilsAdmin » Tue 02.26.2013 9:25 am

Heh, Genki is really great :3
I just keep forgetting what げんき means >.<
皆さんこんにちは!!はじめまして。
私の名前はアンドレーアスです。
18歳学生です。どうぞよおしく。

日本語が少しわかります。僕はおねがいします。

Aaand that's enough rambling for this signature ;) (I really do hope I didn't screw something up >.>)
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby furrykef » Tue 02.26.2013 3:48 pm

You'll remember it soon enough. The word is used all the time.
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Re: "Genki I" and "Japanese For Everyone" textbook compariso

Postby KBo650 » Fri 03.08.2013 12:30 pm

I am looking to get back into the Japanese Language, and am in need of some advice. I took Japanese for 4yrs in High School, but have hardly used it in the 10yrs since. I would say I've still retained about 30% of what I learned. Which book would you recommend? I wouldn't mind starting from the beginning and re-building the foundation, but I'm open to any recommendations.

Thank you!
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