Forum Rocket Japanese Japanese Grammar Textbook or Workbook Recommendations?

Textbook or Workbook Recommendations?

toru e

Hi everyone! I'm just about finished going through Genki I with my tutors and, although I already have Genki II on hand, I'm thinking about using another book. My biggest problem with Genki is that the scenarios are centered on the life of an exchange student, and frankly, I feel stupid constructing sentences like "Let's go on a date at McDonald's!" or "How much are student fees?". The sentences used in the exercises are really just not germane to someone past university age.

Anyway, can anyone recommend some good supplementary textbooks or workbooks, preferably with furigana? I've already picked up a few good books like Essential Japanese Grammar and Japanese Sentence Patterns for Effective Communication, but these are more reference guides than actual textbooks with exercises. 

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!


The Japanese from Zero books aren't that bad. They're an integrated textbook and workbook that offer their lessons in bite-sized chunks in a way that is easy to understand for English speakers. The downside is that, as it implies in the title, it starts off assuming you know absolutely nothing about the language so it progresses a bit slowly, particularly in the writing department, taking 2 whole books to get through just hiragana and katakana. It's still worth checking out for the grammar and vocabulary though. Just know that for the first half of the first book, you'll be talking about cars. A lot. 


I have two different books, Japanese for busy people (which we used in my Japanese class) and Japanese from zero.

Whilst Japanese for busy people is fine for classroom learning, I found it very hard for self study - particularly as the version I was using  quickly stopped using romanized text - far before I had learnt hiragana.  In fact I ended up having to buy the romanized version as well, so I ended up with two versions of the same text book.

The CD wasn't that useful either as was mostly lists of words, rather than real conversations so no use for playing in the car for example.

Japanese from zero is much more beginner friendly although it also a quick transition to no romaji.  I really like their Kana from zero workbook that accompanies it.

So, not a stunning recommendation for either.  Still looking for the perfect book!

toru e

Thanks for the tips! With respect to the Japanese from Zero, maybe I can pick up something later in the series. I'll check to see if they have some in Kinokuniya to browse through. My kanji is not bad for my level (probably around ~N4) and my kana is fairly solid, so I could potentially skip the first two books...especially if it means avoiding the car-centric dialogues. :)

The Japanese for Busy People intrigues me. I know my teacher has it, so it wouldn't be a big deal to add that. One of the things that I found lacking with Genki is that it just gives you one or two examples for a given grammatical point, so it doesn't really give you a good idea for the range of ways you can apply that structure to construct your own sentences. Hopefully, this one is more generous with the examples.

One of my teacher's recommendations was the JPLT Try! series and I ended up ordering the first three book levels from Amazon Japan. It's pretty good at having several examples for a given grammatical point. One of the things that's throwing me though is that there's no handy-dandy vocabulary page like in Genki, so words are just thrown out at you, without any kind of linking theme. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I guess I had gotten used to the convenient organization of Genki. Each book does have audio exercises as well on a CD, but they tend to be multiple choice like the JPLT test.

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