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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first Japanese book you should buy
My Japanese teacher used this book in our classes and it was an excellent choice. It can easily be used for self-study, especially if used with the CDs. Each lesson starts out with a dialog and is followed by a vocabulary list, grammar explanations, and vocabulary/grammar practice. The grammar is explained very clearly and the practice exercises are very useful for...
Published on April 20, 2004 by Lady Murasaki

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287 of 311 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre for adults
This book may be good for young students who anticipate homestays (and I'm skeptical even about that, for reasons below), but if you're an adult you may find this book excruciating. I recently moved to Japan, and finally determined to take some private lessons to get a more systematic grasp on the language than I have had hitherto. My school uses this text. I can't...
Published on September 26, 2007 by A. J. Sutter


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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first Japanese book you should buy, April 20, 2004
By 
Lady Murasaki (Washington, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
My Japanese teacher used this book in our classes and it was an excellent choice. It can easily be used for self-study, especially if used with the CDs. Each lesson starts out with a dialog and is followed by a vocabulary list, grammar explanations, and vocabulary/grammar practice. The grammar is explained very clearly and the practice exercises are very useful for remembering what is being taught. One drawback: no answers are given. The vocabulary lists are not always comprehensive but they give lots of useful vocabulary. Several topics are covered including shopping, talking about family, travel, daily routines, and health. The book also includes lessons on Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji.
I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (Level 4) after 5 months studying with this book and passed. The Kanji included was very useful as were the grammar points and vocabulary. If you can, I recommend getting the CDs and the workbook. The CDs are excellent. You can practice pronunciation with the dialogs and vocabulary lists and the CDs also include listening exercises for the text and workbook. The workbook covers more grammar and vocabulary as well as Kanji, Katakana, and Hiragana practice.
This is the best Japanese textbook I've encountered. It is well organized and relevant. I give it 5 stars without hesitation!
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287 of 311 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre for adults, September 26, 2007
By 
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
This book may be good for young students who anticipate homestays (and I'm skeptical even about that, for reasons below), but if you're an adult you may find this book excruciating. I recently moved to Japan, and finally determined to take some private lessons to get a more systematic grasp on the language than I have had hitherto. My school uses this text. I can't compare it with other college-style textbooks, which may mostly suffer from the same problems, but among the issues I have with it are:

@ The framing scenario is of foreign students living in homestays and interacting with their homestay families and with each other; there is also a lot of school-related vocabluary. This is largely irrelevant for an adult's experience. It is useless for business, BTW (though in my own case, I was looking more for daily life vocabulary and situations than business).

@ Even within this scenario, the book doesn't teach you how to really have conversation -- all classmates address each other with polite "-masu" form verbs. In real life, this would be distant or even rude with your pals. (Moreover, on the accompanying tapes female gaijin characters like "Mary" and "Sue" address their classmates and homestay parents in that saccharine, squeaky little-girl voice that is normally used by shop staff and female announcers on infomercials, not people talking to friends or family.)

@ In Japan, it is very rare for people to mirror back to you what you say, or for it to be appropriate for you to mirror back to them. This is especially true if your main interactions are with people in shops, where they will use a lot of "keigo" (honorific speech) or other specialized formulas. Simple example: A waitress will bring stuff to your table and ask "Yoroshii desu ka?" (Is that OK?), you don't answer back "Hai, yoroshii desu." Even saying goodbye is highly context dependent; e.g. when someone says "Sorry I'm being so rude as to leave before you," even if you can catch the Japanese phrase you will look like an idiot if you reply symmetrically (been there, done that). This book doesn't give you a clue about dealing with such situations, nor help you to unravel what Japanese people are saying to you when they respond to your questions or remarks. All dialogues and exercises are based on the mirroring principle (as well as indiscriminate use of "wa", the topic particle). So it's pretty useless for practical purposes -- unless you plan to use Japanese in class only.

@ While it's a plus that reading & writing practice are integrated into the text, the reading selections in early chapters are devoid of imagination. After several chapters of reading stuff like "Are you OK? I am fine. It's cold here in Japan. I took some pictures, studied Japanese and took a bath. My father is nice, but very busy," and so on, you just want to scream.

@ Although the publication date is 1999, at which time a dot-com boom was beginning even in Japan, this book is snail-mail all the way: you spend time learning about stamps and postcards, but there isn't anything about email, the Internet or texting. (Forget also about DVDs -- people watch videos.)

@ Japanese verb conjugation has a wonderful regularity, in that almost every verb has a set of stems that are based variously on -A-, -I-, -U-, -E- and -O- (e.g., negative, polite, dictionary, causative and "let's" forms, respectively). This tracks the order of Japanese vowels in the kana writing systems, so it's easy to remember. However, "Genki"'s presentation of verbs obliterates this useful pattern (see, e.g. conjugation chart @ 344 of Vol. I).

@ The book lacks any review chapters, appendices, exercises or quizzes to help you consolidate what you've learned in a chunk of preceding chapters. Schools don't necessarily take the initiative to review the material every now and then, so you may need to request special quizzes to force yourself to review stuff you studied weeks earlier. My teachers were amenable when asked, though my lessons are one-on-one, and this might be more difficult to do if the book is used in a class situation (you might ask about that before you sign up). If you're using the book to study on your own, you're on your own with this too.

Like most students of Japanese, I've stocked up on a shelfload of other books of varying usefulness. (Two of the best, Rita Lampkin's "Japanese: Verbs and Essentials of Grammar" and Jay Rubin's "Making Sense of Japanese", unfortunately are exclusively in Roman characters, or nearly so.) You will definitely need to to the same (or at least half a shelfload) if you use this book. But not getting bored by the boook will be a bigger challenge if you're older than 22. One possible tip might be to look for a book that has at least one gaijin co-author. This one is written entirely by Japanese authors; it could have benefitted from the perspective of a formerly-puzzled foreigner.

PS ADDED 2009/01: Now that I have more experience with Genki 2, I feel there are several additional caveats for prospective users of this text. First, the good news is that you learn more informal usage, and a little bit of polite language, especially in Genki 2. Unfortunately, many of the informal expressions are *too* informal, including several that I have never heard any educated person use, and which my wife (a native speaker) and my teacher (ditto) confirmed they would never use, even at home with family. This means that, especially in Genki 2, you can expect a constant struggle to calibrate the text with the spoken language; my teachers even skip some of the material because it's wrong or incomplete.

Also, more bad news if you're hoping to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Although Genki 2 will get you into some of the Level 3 material, the set of Genki 1+2 still doesn't cover all the material even for Level 4 (the easiest level). I was amazed, and kind of steamed, at the new vocabulary (several dozen words -- all of them traditional, not new words that have become current since Genki was published) and grammatical constructions I had to learn just for the most basic level. And as one commenter noted, the sentence structures used in Level 4 are more complex than in Genki. This is not too tough to remedy, since there's plenty of review material available from other vendors. But given that the textbook was prepared in Japan by a Japanese publisher (The Japan Times, the leading local English-language newspaper here), this gap is more surprising. Please consider this before you embark on a course with Genki. You might want to check out the 2008 revision of "Everyone's Japanese/Minna no nihongo" -- not easy, but one that my teachers often use when Genki is wrong or obtuse.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! Go Genki!!, December 7, 2005
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
I had been self-studying Japanese over numerous websites for 'bout 7 months when I decided to actually get a textbook. After searching around, reading reviews, asking people what they think I decided on Genki I. What a fantastic choice!! I learned more in 2 weeks in this book than I learned 7 months on a computer. Here I go, in depth (summary at end ^_~):

A) It starts out with an overview of the book, explanation of alphabets, so-on-and-so-forth, ect. Not much here but an introduction, soooo....

B) Dialogue - The beginning of the lesson has a dialogue that goes with a certain lesson theme (e.g. New Friends covers greetings, simple questions, numerous phrases and vocab, ect.). This is written in kana (after lesson 3, kanji w/ furigana), romanji, (if any) katakana w/ furigana, and an English translation. You won't understand what's being said 'till the next few pages, so now onto that.

C) Vocabulary - A loooong list of vocab resides here. Although it may be sorta "random", it is useful and good stuff to know. Words and terms used in the dialogue are marked with an asterisk "*". This page is written in kana, kanji w/ furigana, (if any) katakana w/ furigana, romanji, and English. Ok! Here we go:

D) Grammar - easy-to-understand grammar explanations rest here, after vocab. This provides the info needed to actually USE the vocab. After reading this, you should probably get a lot more of the dialogue. But not quite....

E) Um, Other? - These pages contain numerous class activities (not very useful to self-studiers, but can have some good practice exercises if you play both parts XD), other grammar/useful notes explanations, some more vocab perhaps, more dialogues, ect. In later lessons, this contains the kanji explanations as well. Basically, it's a planned lesson part that puts all you have learned in the previous pages to the test. It really builds on what you need to know, and forces you to read back, building stronger understanding and memorization ^^

Summary: Clear, neat, and fun planned lessons, put together in a learning-effective format. Great for all ages (it IS intended for college classroom use, but I am a 13 self-studier, and I find it great!!) as well! You will learn so much, and be reading, speaking, writing, and UNDERSTANDING real Japanese by the end of the book!

Other notes: Be sure to get the CDs (especially if you're learning on your own) and the workbook. The workbook reinforces grammar and such, and the CD helps you listen, speak, and understand spoken Japanese better (REALLY helpful! It's extremely helpful at learning and understanding the accent!!!!).

Thanks for listening to my rambling! Hope it has given enough detail and everything you want to know before you decide on a good book!! (ALSO: do NOT get the Japanese For Busy People series; no matter how popular, it is terrible!!!!! Genki is a waaaay better investment!)

-Sachi
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Japanese textbook i've seen so far, January 2, 2005
By 
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
For those of you who didn't have the chance to browse from a selection of Japanese language book, let me recommend this textbook to you.

There is a total of 24 lessons in Genki I & II. Genki I consist of 12 lessons.

Here's the sequence to which the lessons are structured

1. Dialogue

2. English translated dialogue

3. Vocabulary

4. Grammar

5. Practice

What I've found best about this textbook compared to other japanese textbook is in the organization. I sometimes stare at "Japanese for Busy People II" and get overwhelmed by the difficulty and the globs of unspaced words. It in turn become very discouraging to continue reading because it is not the vocabulary or the grammar that you'd be focusing on, it's finding what's important in that glob of paragraph that takes away your concentration.

Grammar:

(average of 6 grammar per lesson)

In "An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese", important grammars are bolded, spaced, and highlighted. The explaination in how to use the grammar are precise and neatly spaced along with an example or two to illustrate how to use it.

Vocabulary:

(Average of 50 words per lesson)

The vocabularies they teach in this textbook are basically the same as the ones in other textbooks. Useful in everyday conversation. But again I must stress that this textbook organized very efficiently.

1. Noun

2. i-adjective

3. na-adjective

4. u-verb

5. ru-verb

6. adverbs

For a beginner, you might not know the reason to distinguish between i-adj and na-adj. But it becomes very useful when you start studying grammar. Some textbooks out there also distinguishes the types of verb and adjectives, but some doesn't.

Practices:

(6-7 pages per lesson)

The practices in this textbook uses both pictures and words to test your recall ability. From the looks of the practices in all the japanese textbooks, they are not designed to be a self-study course. There is no accompanying answer-key along with the practices. I agree that the practice is designed so that you can figure it out by rereading the lesson, but personally, it bothers me because you cannot be sure at that moment whether your answer is correct or incorrect. In a way, it prevents me from putting it into my long term memory because my answers might be wrong. I'm sure my opinion can be argued.

Lastly, there is also a Genki Workbook (sold separately). Each lesson has around 8 pages of extra sheets to practice. Again, it has no answer key. The last page in every lesson is a listening assignment. Which means unless you have the CD (not provided within workbook), you cannot do that assignment. But it's still good if you want the extra 7 pages/lesson of practice in writing.

A little story to end this review

A boy went into a language bookstore and asks the store owner which japanese textbook is the best. The store owner replied: "Genki" - The End

I know, it's an awesome story.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great start to learning Japanese, April 5, 2006
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
This was textbook used by my Japanese teacher in my college classes, and is a great way to start learning Japanese. As an anime, manga, video game fan, and having a general interest in Japan, this is a nice way to start out. The book starts with the most basic structures and slowly builds up to making more complete sentences.

The book also includes little tidbits of information, such as when to use long forms versus short forms when in conversation, or what the Japanese will actually say versus what is grammatically correct. I also liked that there are some special little stand-alone sections, with common phrases to use and listen for if you're...say...at a post office or train station.

At the beginning of each lesson is a conversation between some of the recurring characters, using the new things that you will be learning. They're nice because you can see how the language is used in conversation, and not just a string of repetative complete sentences and statements.

It's also a great way to learn how to write hiragana, katakana, and kanji. The first two are relatively easy to learn (I taught myself hiragana in about a week.) Hiragana and katakana are in the front of the book, before the first lesson. Kanji instructions are in the back after the last lesson, but it's good to bookmark them and do the exercises there. You learn some of the most basic and commonly used kanji. I found myself recognizing words right away whenever I stumbled onto something written in Japanese.

It's well-written, too. I enjoyed doing the excercises and reading over information, and even studying for my tests. You're given a lot of useful vocabularly. It's geared toward college students, but I can picture myself using it and following along if I were not in college, whether still in high school or just learning in my spare time.

While the book does well standing alone, I found that also having the workbook was an immense help, and I recommend purchasing it along with the main textbook. It includes hiragana, katakana, and kanji practice sections in the back, which helped me learn the characters very quickly. There are also CDs to buy, and those are mostly good for helping with listening comprehension, but there are some activities that you need them for. I got them free through my college, but if you have the money, they're worth purchasing as well. You can get your listening skills through anime, but I wouldn't recommend it. The speakers on the CDs start out slow, and slowly begin to speed up, so it's easier to pick up on for beginners. But you'll need this main text to start out with, of course.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book for beginning students!, March 27, 2000
By 
Dan Norton (Madison, WI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
I am currently in a college course which uses this as our sole text book, and it is extremely useful. With lessons in class paired with the book's chapters, new concepts are picked up comfortably, and are then used throughout the rest of the chapters, providing a cumulative effect that really lets you feel like you are making progress. Also included are kanji in the back of the book for each chapter, allowing you to fill out your reading/writing skills as you see fit. All in all, a wonderful text!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best learning tool I've seen for Japanese, March 19, 2007
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
I have been using a couple books in the beginning of my learning Japanese; but after starting this book and reviewing futre chapters, I'd say this beats most if not all of the other books I've seen. The vocab is set up very well, the subjects are arrainged in a very realistic order (some books make you wait until middle chapters to learn how to tell time???).If you're looking for a simple read through book, this isn't it. This book forces you to learn the written language and utilizes it heavily early and often. By the third chapter, the Japanese portion of the lessons no longer come with phonic translating subscript, and nor do the vocabulary pages come with script/japanese-phonic/english-phonic breakdowns;you go from Hirigana to Enlish. Immersion that I have never really seen in a lot of books, but this is done extremely well. I say all this because if your intention is to learn the phonetic speak, this is not the book for you! If you want a good, quality and well set up immersion learning book, this book is incredible. Also, of all the books I've recently looked at and tried to use, my Japanese fiancee gives this one the biggest thumbs up because it forces you to not only speak, but learn to read and write.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've purchased all the rest this one is the best., March 25, 2007
By 
Chris Burke (Worldwide Vagabond) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
Ok, I've spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on Japanaese language learning materials. Books, software, CDs etc. Some of them good some of them bad. Genki is the only one that has really put it all together for me. It explains the concepts and explains them well. When you are done reading the grammar sections it just starts to make sense.

This is a great stepping stone for those that are wanting to learn Japanese as part of a fuller understanding of the language. If you are looking for a quick read for a weekend in Tokyo this book isn't for you.

Pick up the workbook and CD if you are going to be doing this solo. It'll help out like you wouldn't believe.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent for self-study if you're willing to find supplementary materials, December 30, 2008
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
EDIT: Apparently Amazon won't let me paste URLs, so you'll have to Google the site names separately. I'll mark them with (www). Sorry about that!

The Genki course is a great textbook, and obviously a lot of time and effort went into putting it together. Since this book tries to do a little of everything, it understandably can't be content-rich in any one category; therefore, I highly recommend looking for supplementary materials to better flesh out your Japanese proficiency. Happily, a lot of online resources are available for free, and I'll try to list them below. My review is from the perspective of a native English speaker who is currently living and working in Japan.

Grammar: In each lesson, you get several new sentence patterns or grammatical points to try out, as well as notes on why and how to use them as well as pictures, diagrams, examples, etc. to get the point across. I found this section to be very clear and easy to understand.
How to make it better: One of my favorite sites is (www) Tae Kim's guide to Japanese grammar, which I did alongside the Genki lessons. You can also check out Jay Rubin's Making Sense of Japanese.

Dialogues: The dialogues are kind of stilted and unnatural-sounding (try reading the English translations out loud and you'll see what I mean) and is IMHO the book's weakest point. This is made even more pronounced since the characters all address each other in polite form (desu, -san, etc) even though they're supposed to be close friends or even couples. But the bottom line is that they demonstrate the grammatical teaching point within a "realistic" context, so I guess I can't complain too much.
How to make it better: There's really no substitute for listening to native Japanese speakers. Watch a lot of Japanese shows without subtitles and try to just listen to their pronunciation and intonation, and when applicable, when they use the grammar points you learned. If you like manga, you can also look for children's series and make a project out of translating them (I chose Gakuen Senki Muryou). Especially try to observe the differences in speech between peers, friends, superiors, and customers. This is a pretty big deal in Japan, and using the wrong form to the wrong person can be pretty embarrassing. Believe me, I found out the hard way...

Vocabulary and Kanji: Each lesson comes with about 50-60 vocabulary words and 10 kanji (except for the first two lessons, which cover hiragana and katakana instead). The vocab is broken up into several categories (places, food, things to buy, verbs, etc.) which are then plugged into the sentence patterns provided in the grammar sections. The kanji section in the back provides you with a standard dictionary entry (with stroke order, on'yomi and kun'yomi, English definition, and a few example words).
How to make it better: There are a lot of fun ways of doing this one. (www) Yookoso has a great daily mailing list that will send you a new kanji character a day. (You can even set the JLPT level, if that's what you're studying for.) You can also check out the various quizzes and activities on (www) Charles Kelly's Japanese study materials site. If you don't mind spending a little extra money, I highly recommend Basic Kanji Book, Vol. 1, which is what I've been using. I also highly recommend (www) Jim Breen's online Japanese Dictionary to look up any words instead of a paper dictionary. Unfortunately, there's no shortcut to learning vocab and kanji. You just have to keep practicing over and over and over until you've memorized them, and then after that keep practicing to stay in shape. I HIGHLY recommend making your own drill cards instead of buying pre-made ones because the process of writing the characters onto the cards will also help you to memorize them. (Not to mention it's cheaper!)

Exercises: This is my absolute favorite part of Genki. The exercises are usually very fun and cute, very repetitive (which, when learning a language, is a good thing) without feeling like a chore. The only thing I regret is that these exercises aren't as much fun to do if you're studying by yourself (like how I did) than if you were in a classroom. If you have a friend who can practice with you, it'd be even more fun. If that friend is also a native speaker who can correct your mistakes, then even better. At the back of the book are even more exercises, mostly to practice reading and writing.
How to make it better: You can go to Charles Kelly's site for more quizzes, or buy Genki's accompanying workbook and CD to practice with them. Also check out (www) Renshuu for a lot of practice exams (even includes Genki lesson material!) If you're studying for the JLPT, I recommend checking out Unicom's series of JLPT guide books (I bought The Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 4) which has a lot of practice questions.

I feel that the best thing this book provides is a solid foundation for good Japanese studying habits. Japanese can be an extremely overwhelming language to master if you don't have a good guide to show you what to learn, how to learn it, and how you can absorb information from other sources. Even though Genki is far from a comprehensive guide to Japanese, I feel that it's a great way to kick things off for beginners, and teaches you HOW to study the language.

If you're interested in buying the accompanying Genki materials: the workbook is great because it has a lot of exercises to do on your own (ideal for those trying to self-study). If you get the workbook, be sure to get the CD so you can do the listening comp sections, but if you're only using the textbook then DO NOT BUY THE CD. It's NOT worth the money just to hear the dialogue and vocab pronunciations.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Beginners book, April 15, 2002
This review is from: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Vol. 1 (English and Japanese Edition) (Paperback)
I am a student in Canada and our university uses this text as the only book for our introductory course to Japanese. This book contains everything that you need to get a firm grip on the language. It has many basic grammar rules that will get you into the feel of Japanese quick and fairly painless. There are over 150 kanji (Chinese symbol words) that this book will teach. Starting this class I knew about 6 words in Japanese and none of the rules for grammar, but I am happy to say that after 8 months of hard study I passed the course with flying colours. To get all the potential out of this book you will have to do the work, preferably with a study group. All the lessons are chopped down into bite sized pieces so that you can absorb it easily, but each lesson is called on in future lessons... This text is a great way to start you way into this beautiful language.
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