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Starting with Genki Books


22 Apr 2019
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I am an absolute beginner with Japanese, and got the Genki I books. I was looking for study tips and the best way to go about learning with the book. Also, should i have Hiragana memorized prior to starting. It appears after the first 2 chapters it moves to all Japanese with no Romanji.
21 Jun 2017
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The best way to go would be to have a great teacher to help you along.

The way GENKI is structured, you should learn hiragana by lesson 1 and katakana by lesson 2. Note that hiragana and katakana practice are in the writing section, which appears in the back of the book.

I've seen some of the approaches learners who don't know hiragana or katakana have taken to learn things like conjugation, and believe me, learning hiragana and katakana early on is definitely for the best.

nice gaijin

Resident Realist
8 Aug 2005
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Yes, start with a strong foundation by learning hiragana and katakana early, and practice reading and writing them diligently.

Don't try to rush it too much, slowly familiarize yourself with them by working on one or two new sets* a day. Practice reading and writing them just before bed, and again in the morning, to help encode them in your long-term memory. As you add each new set, be sure to refresh what you've already learned and write out the previous sets. So at first you're just writing the five vowels (say 10-20 times), but at the end of a couple weeks, you'll be practically writing out the entire phonetic alphabet. Get away from romaji as fast as possible.

You can try to study hiragana and katakana together, but I'd recommend focusing on hiragana first and then tackle katakana, They represent the exact same sounds but are used for different things,. It's like if English were written in all lower case letters, but words that are EMPHASIZED, sound effects like BOOM and foreign loan words like SUSHI were written in all capitol letters.

Equally important to the rote memorization of just learning all these new characters is to learn how they are used; Genki will introduce new vocabulary that uses the characters you've learned so you can see them in a real world. This will help your brain build connections between the characters, the sounds they make, and the words they appear in.

*by set, I am referring to a group of the five vowel sounds starting with a particular consonant, ie
あ い う え お - a i u e o (no consonant)
か き く け こ - ka ki ku ke ko
ま み む め も - ma mi mu me mo
and so on. There are a couple special characters you will encounter, and you should focus on those each in turn when you are ready.
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