Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

What Beginner Textbook do you use/did you use?

clay's picture
Japanese for Busy People
12% (24 votes)
26% (52 votes)
Minna no Nihongo
16% (31 votes)
Shin Nihongo no Kiso
3% (6 votes)
Japanese for Everyone
5% (9 votes)
3% (5 votes)
Other (Please leave comment and we'll add it with your vote to this poll)
16% (31 votes)
I don't need no stinkin' textbook!
12% (23 votes)
Japanese from Zero
1% (2 votes)
Japanese the Manga Way
3% (6 votes)
Introduction to Modern Japanese by Bowring and Laurie
3% (5 votes)
2% (4 votes)
Total votes: 198

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Situational and Functional Japanese

Situational and Functional Japanese is the book that our teacher started us out in. He thought that we needed to stay motivated when learning Japanese, which other grammar heavy books don't do. It was pretty nice, but I really liked grabbing a Genki book and other more grammar books after going through the first book.

fielle's picture

Mostly packets

My beginner Japanese classes used mostly hand-made packets, although I did use "Japanese in 45 hours," which was a basic book that had adorable drawings to define words. It was made to be able to work with people learning from any language, so it had no English at all, just cute pictures and Japanese.

other beginner books

I'm using Shokyu Nihongo and Shinbunka Shokyu Nihongo, but I'm an italian student so I don't know if these book are available in other country.

Mina no nihongo v.s. Genki

In university i was unfortunate enough to use Mina No Nihongo as my required text. Mina no nihongo requires you, from an early level to remember EXTENSIVE word lists as long as 30 words or more.. plus then understand the dificult descripions of grammar.. it comes in two novels which are relitivly expensive one of which is almost compleetly in japanese which is dificult for a beginner to understand (especialy since these are the comprehention questions).. Although minna no nihongo is the international japanese learning text book, i believe it has to many flaws and is to hard for beginers. In comparison genki is easy to use and designed for beginers, introducing concepts gradualy as it goes and the questions are generaly in english unless specificaly designed otherwise. kanji arnt a big element in genki, but neither is mina no nihongo (we used a seperate text book for kanji). overall my learning experience with mina no nihongo was a difucult one and i would find it dificult to motivate myself if i was a lone learner. My friends who gave me their genki books progressed admitedly a little slower than me but maintained good motivation in class and seemed to understand concepts better.


Pimsleurs Comprehensive Japanese for EnglishSpeakers

Pimsleur is designed for a

Pimsleur is designed for a comprehensive travel guide and not particuarly a course in spoken japanese. For one it is extreemly formal japanese which is often not that usefull in a real life situation. I believe it is designed as an easy replacement for learning from travel guides. Although on the up side it creates a firm base for which more apropriate japanese can be developed. Also if you are doing japanese in school/ university it can be a relitivly easy way to revise (although pimsleur try's to minimise the amount of vocabulary the listener needs to remember)

Kimono & Adventures in Japanese

I used AiJ when I was taking the class, and I'm using Kimono now. Kimono is by Sue Burnham, if this book is right.

I support Heseig, got a problem with that? Good, 'cause I really don't care.

I'm currently using the Japan

I'm currently using the Japan Page and www.iknow.co.jp and www.lang8.com to learn Japanese (I'm still on the hiragana and katakana stage since I'm so slow) - However, I am probably going to buy Genki soon.

Japanese N00b, at your service...

bluedragon's picture

I used Nihongo Shoho

In my class we used Nihongo Shoho (published by the Japan Foundation).

Since the university switched from Nihongo Shoho to Minna no Nihongo, my class (high school level) switched from Nihongo Shoho to Genki.

Nihongo shoho is very compressed, has 5-10 pictures in the entire book, and is quite old fashioned. It is also pretty hard to get by nowadays.

Aislynn's picture

I used "Ultimate Japanese"

from the Random House's Living Language series. I still use the book occasionally, although, I've pretty much abandoned it in favor of http://www.nihongoresources.com/ . I find his website to be very helpful, even if I haven't managed to memorize all the vocab. (Had that trouble with the book too.)
For listening practice, I use http://www.japanesepod101.com/ because I think some of their lessons are very funny (especially the beginnings!) and I like being able to take them to work with me.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -Eleanor Roosevelt-

other textbooks

"An Introduction to Modern Japanese" by Mizutani and Mizutani and "Complete Course of Japanese Conversation-Grammar" by Vaccari and Vaccari are what I used (both old, the Vaccari text very old, and neither readily available any more. Both were purchased in the early '80s in Japan.)

Richard VanHouten

askeladd's picture

When I first started studying

When I first started studying Japanese, it was on my own, and I utilized Japanese for Busy People and Japanese for Everyone. Then when I actually signed up for a beginning class at the community college, the teacher chose Genki. I don't really have a strong preference for one over the others - I think that as long as one picks something that's fairly well-received and sticks with it, one'll do fine.

I also like the stuff from Kodansha - I have a number of their books.

Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.

---Mark Twain

old textbook

When I was in high school, we used a really old textbook that i haven't been able to find since. it was either "ima kara nihongo" (今から日本語) or "kyou kara nihongo" (今日から日本語), I forget which.

It was a really good book and looks somewhat similar to "Japanese for Everybody", but had 3 volumes, the third reaching well over the 500 kanji mark (from what I remember).

In college it was Japanese: the Spoken Language and Japanese: the Written Language; volumes 1 and 2 for each. I hated these books. The romaji gave me headaches.

Japanese class at the Dallas-Fort Worth Japanese Association used Japanese For Busy People, so I picked up that whole series; kinda wish I'd saved my money. The first book probably wasn't bad for beginners, but the 2nd and 3rd books were a bit too dry for self study.

Ino's picture

I used Yookoso

I'm using the Yookoso text books. I think they are published by McGraw-Hill, but I'm not sure...

Another elementary textbook

One I haven't seen mentioned - Hugo's "Japanese Simplified" (a "three months" series book) by John Breen (no, not Jim - different Breen altogether). I wouldn't recommend it for use on its own, nor do I believe that it can really get you competent in three months, but for a concise explanation of grammar up to and including passives, causative and what-have-you, it's the best of many I've seen. It really explains things well, without cartoons and without going into the Japanese writing systems. Used in conjunction with some other textbook, it's well worth having. Densely packed with good, solid information.

Not recommended: Etsuko Tsujita and Colin Lloyd, "Japanese in a week". (I have not made this up).

Infidel's picture

Things like Japanese in a

Things like Japanese in a Week and other books "Japanese in 10 mins a day" aren't necessarily bad books. They have a narrowly defined audience: tourists. They are designed to get you to be able to teach a person to interact in a small set of circumstances.

Yes, if you want to learn to speak Japanese fluently, then Japanese in a Week is a bad idea. However, by the same token. If you are going to be visiting Japan next week. Genki is an even worse choice.


You're right, of course - as

You're right, of course - as with the BBC's "Get by in Japanese", "Japanese in a week" has some useful stuff in it and I have learned from both. I'm not sure how much help they would be for anyone arriving on his own in Japan, though. I wonder if anyone has tried it.

Unfortunately, the way language teaching is going in the UK, the Powers That Be seem to be under the impression that this "phrase book" approach is the path to follow. But that would be another thread.


Infidel's picture


Introduction to Modern Japanese by Bowring and Laurie

but I went through about 20 different textbooks before I finally stopped at this one.


Other Elementary Textbooks

I'm nearly done with "Intermediate Japanese," as my beginner textbook, and am now about to embark upon a more "intermediate" level of study. I am not in the business of selling textbooks, but of the four elementary-level textbooks that I own, I feel personally that "Intermediate Japanese" stands head-and-shoulders above the other three.

clay's picture

If you have it handy, who are

If you have it handy, who are the authors or what is the ISBN of "Intermediate Japanese"--and is it a beginner level textbook?

TheJapanShop.com- Japanese language learning materials
Checkout our iPhone apps: TheJapanesePage.com/iPhone

Breyyne's picture

'other' Beginner Textbooks

I use 'Japanese from Zero' from YesJapan.com.
It has many useful tips and has just enough humor not to bore like your normal textbook.

I used 'Japanese for Dummies'

I used 'Japanese for Dummies' and 'Japanese the Manga Way'.
Both of witch I bought from Borders. XDD
I learned most, though, from just watching the Japanese dubs of Bleach and Naruto! XDD

I'm a bigger idiot than I give myself credit for, but I already give myself too much credit. Does that make me an idiot? http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj92/domini3k/a.jpg http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc85/Son_Daichi_Goten_Naruto/Naruto.jpg

Comment viewing options