Japanese Textbook Review – Do I Need Genki 2?

By Donald Ash | Japanese Textbook Reviews

Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 8

The Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review.  In today's review we do a detailed Genki 2 Review.  Genki's Elementary Japanese textbook series is arguably one of the most popular textbook series you can own.  

By the end of this review you'll know why Genki II is a great Japanese resource, why it's not so good, and whether it's the right resource for you. 

Affiliate Disclosure

Yes, there are affiliate links on this page.  When you make a purchase through one of these links, I do earn a commission.  However, I only recommend items that I have personally used, vetted and recommend.  
Genki 2 is a Japanese resource that I stand behind.

If you're ready, it's time to do a deep dive into Genki 2 - the good the bad and the practical...

A Genki Two Textbook Review | Level : Upper-Beginner to Low-Intermediate

One of the reasons my Genki Two book doesn't sit around collecting dust is because it sticks to core principles that made the first book great.

One of the main principles is using clear English to explain things. ​Clear explanations make for better understanding and better retention.

"Yep! It's effective"

Intermediate Japanese is where things really start to get tricky - especially grammatically. 

If you're doing self-study, Genki 2 can take some pretty tough concepts and really break them to down well.

The kanji side of things isn't as effective as it could be.

No surprises or funny business with the price.  Genki 2 costs that exact same as Genki 1 did.  

The value you get for the textbook & mp3 cd are really hard to beat.  

As far as "value for the price" goes, the Genki series has to rank among the best-in-class.

I'm sure that's part of the reason it's so popular.

Genki 2, much like Genki 1, is an amazing physical textbook.  But one of the limitations of a physical textbook is that the support you need isn't readily available. 

That being said, as new editions come out, I do see that Genki is doing more and more to make their awesome physical textbooks more web-friendly.

We'll talk about it later in this review 🙂

WHAT IS GENKI 2?

Genki Two is the follow-up textbook to the wildly popular Genki One Textbook that's used by many accredited universities in the U.S. and a number of Japanese language schools here in Japan.  Written by Eri Banno, Yoko Ikeda, Yutaka Ohno, Chikako Shinagawa, and Kyoko Tokashiki, the second edition of Genki Two reflects vocabulary, expression, and cultural not changes that reflect more of what Japanese society is like today.  

Genki 2 is the quintessential low to mid intermediate level textbook.

JAPANESE TEXTBOOK REVIEW - GENKI 2 TEXTBOOK PHOTOS 

Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 5
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 3
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 4
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 5
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 5
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 5
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 5
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 5
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review
Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 5

FIVE PROS OF THE GENKI 2 TEXTBOOK

  • 1. Easy-to-follow structure 
  • 2. Practical, Japanese Grammar
  • 3. Same Memorable Characters 
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    4. Genki 2 Drill Make a Difference
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    5. The Next Logical Step
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    6. Additional Resources

1

GENKI 2 IS EASY TO FOLLOW


Dialogue, vocabulary, grammar, practice, and more practice.  Does that sound familiar at all?  Well, if you're familiar with Genki 1, it's the elements of a standard lesson. 

The beauty of Genki 2 is that it sticks to the same easy-to-follow format that was established in the Genki 1 textbook.  You know what language components you'll be studying in every single lesson.  Knowing what's coming next can makes it easy to progress through the lessons, even if you're studying solo.

2

PRACTICAL JAPANESE GRAMMAR


This is my favorite aspect of the Genki 2 Textbook. You start to employ more complex grammar structures, ones that will hear (pretty often) when you're out and about in Japan.

An INCREDIBLY useful example of this is an intro to honorific Japanese which you will hear being used at all kinds of business establishments in Japan.  A great example is some of the basic Japanese you hear right at the train station.  
The word 来ます (kimasu) becomes 参ります (mairimasu) when it's an honorific.  

So if you hear 電車が参ります (でんしゃがまいります|Densha ga mairimasu) at the station, it's a polite way of saying the train is coming.

3

 SAME MEMORABLE CHARACTERS


Mary, Takeshi, Robert and the crew are back for another installment of Genki! Why does this even matter, though?

While it seems like a small thing, get to follow these characters (namely Mary) in their stories and experiences.  Genk 2 keeping the same characters lends itself to better, and more memorable Japanese situations and stories.  For example you get to hear Yamashita Sensei ordering food at a restaurant, or Takeshi meeting his boss for the very first time, or Mary and Takeshi on a sightseeing trip in Nagano.

This all makes Genki I and II so cohesive as a elementary Japanese Course.

4

GENKI 2 DRILLS MAKE A DIFFERENCE


Love them or hate them, drills give you a chance to practice the Japanese you're learning.  Genki 2 uses effective written, audio, and partner drills to help you make things connect.  You'll find a slew of drills in both your workbook and your textbook.

With Genki two, you're going to drill your butt off, but in a way that's fun.  Nobody said that drills had to be boring. You can practice using grammar without having be bored to tears.

Part of the reason Genki is so successful is that these drills don't take themselves too seriously.  You have the leeway to be creative.

5

THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP


Why is Genki 2 a great textbook? One very simple reason is because it gives you somewhere to go next.

If you've already finished the wildly popular Genki I, you don't have to sit and let your Japanese stagnate. Genki II is a logical progression. Genki 2 turns up the challenge just a little in this textbook.  You can learn new things while incorporating, and stretching, the concepts you mastered in the Genki One. 

6

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES


Two lesser-known Genki resources that you'll find as you go through this integrated elementary Japanese course are "Culture Notes" and "Useful Expressions."

USEFUL EXPRESSION

It feels like every time Genki releases a new edition, it becomes more and more useful. These two resources are a way to slide in even more practical knowledge without having it feel forced whatsoever.  Things that you might take for granted when you're a native speaker (in your home country) can become a hell of a lot harder when you live in Japan and don't speak Japanese.  

Genki 2 includes expressions related to banking, getting a haircut, checking into a hotel, and more.  

CULTURE NOTES

Japanese culture can be truly fascinating because it's so different from American/Western culture. The culture notes highlight some of these differences. You can find out about Japanese festivals, sushi, and even a bit about Japanese Pop Culture.


READY TO TRY THE GENKI 2 JAPANESE TEXTBOOK?

As with many of the books and products from the Japan Times, Genki 2 delivers. If you want to purchase your own copy of this textbook, click the bright red button below. 


FOUR THINGS I DON'T LIKE ABOUT  THE GENKI 2 TEXBOOK

Genki Two does a lot of things right as a textbook, Now that we've looked at what it did right, what are some elements of the Genki 2 Textbook that could be better?

  • Finishing Genki 2 Doesn't Mean You're a "True Japanese Intermediate"
  • Genki 2 Is Harder To Grasp Than Genki 1
  • Text and Audio Have Their Limits
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    Dialogue Speed Could Be Faster

1

FINISHING GENKI 2
DOESN'T MEAN YOU'RE A "TRUE JAPANESE INTERMEDIATE"


What does does "intermediate Japanese" even mean? Well, I  think intermediate depends on the author who's writing the book.  My definition of true intermediate goes beyond the scope of the Genki Two textbook.  Here's why...

I remember getting through most of Genki 2, feeling like I had improved; I most certainly had. But I remember taking the N3 for the first time, based primarily on my Genki knowledge.  Can you guess what happened?  


I got my a$$ handed to me.  That's what happened!

Yes, part of it was because I've never really performed all that well on standardized tests.  On a good day, I could maybe score slightly above average, but never in the upper percentiles.*

However, when I take a look at some of the other textbooks that are geared towards JLPT N3 preparation, you can get a sobering reminder of just how much you don't know.  I think by the end of Genki 2, low-intermediate is a more realistic expectation.

*That's kinda been my story on ALL standardized tests - from the SAT (Student Aptitude Test) to the DAT (Dental Admissions Test)

2

GENKI 2 IS HARDER TO GRASP THAN GENKI 1


There. I said it. Genki 1 is better than Genki 2. Just because it's practical doesn't mean it's going to come easily, at least not for all of us.

The first book in Genki, Japan Times series is legendary because it can genuinely take a person from level zero to haven't a pretty good conceptual understanding of how Japanese basics work.  Genki One accomplishes this in a graceful, simplistic way. It's one of the best, beginning texts on the market.

Genki Two on the other hand, has some issues we have to examine more closely. Genki 2 is as simplistic and clear as it always is but at a Japanese level that expects more of you. 

The main reason I think Genki falls a bit short here is because there is so much more to know as you start to cross that beginner/intermediate bridge. However, for Genki 2 to keep that simple, but effective style of Genki 1, they had to strip down to the essentials.  

It feels like the beginner to intermediate gap may be a bit too much for any one book to handle on its own.  Genki 2 does a great job of trying, though.

3

TEXT AND AUDIO HAVE THEIR LIMITS


Sorry, even if you're an introvert (like me) there's only so far a textbook will be able to take you, ESPECIALLY if you studying on your own. 

There are benefits to studying Japanese on your own.  Doing so allows you to internalize grammar structures, vocabulary, etc. that you're studying.  Doing review and repetition on your own, at your own pace, is a beautiful thing (when done right).  

However, applying the Japanese you know will happen in public, speaking to one or more people.  You genuinely don't find out how "good" you really are until you're face-to face with a native speaker, or a native-speaking tutor. 

I'm the last person who'd tell you to drop your textbooks and mp3 files. I'm DEFINITELY keeping mine.  But I encourage you to study with perspective.

4

DIALOGUE SPEED COULD BE FASTER


This is in no way a knock to the quality of what's in the Genki 2 dialogues...THEY'RE GOLD!!

However, it doesn't feel like there is a noticeable increase in how fast the speakers talk between Genki 1 and 2.  I think this is a definite negative because Genki conversations are not native speed. 

When you hear some of these grammar structures at native speed (namely the causative, passive & causative passive) they can be much harder to follow.  

WHOA! YOU'RE STILL HERE?

If the cons didn't make you hit the back button, then you must be pretty committed to learning Japanese.

Despite the cons, Genki 2 can help you improve. If you want to try it for yourself, click the "Buy It Now!" Button.


GENKI 2 IS PERFECT FOR...

  • Self study students who can't attend classes or aren't enrolled in a university course.
  • People who are on the upper beginner-lower intermediate bridge
  • THOSE WHO NEED A SYSTEM TO FOLLOW
    One of the comforts of the Genki 2 textbook is that you know what's coming next.


    Genki Two's system is the same, effective system that will funnel you through the essential Japanese points you'll need to know in order to get better.
  • ​STUDENTS WHO'VE COMPLETED GENKI ONE
    If you made it through Genki I, did your homework and really got something from the textbook, Genki II is the next logical step. It's designed to pick up where you left off. It's 
  • JAPANESE LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY TEST (JLPT)
    I think this book will do a good job at preparing you for the current N4 level of the JLPT.

GENKI 2 ISN'T PERFECT FOR…

  • PEOPLE WHO QUIT WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH
    Making it through Genki 1 shows that you have the perseverance and the discipline to study Japanese. HOORAY! But please keep in mind that Genki 2 is harder.

    If you like to throw in the towel when things get tough, this might not be the best book for you.


    And nope! I'm not preaching either. I stopped studying Genki 2 for a while myself and had to resume my studies once I had more time to study.
  • VISUAL LEARNERS
    While the Genki Japanese website companion does have some video, that's not Genki 2's strength. If text and audio aren't your preferred methods of learning, this may not be the best way for you to learn Japanese...AND THAT'S OKAY! (as long as you find the method that really suits your needs).

HOW MUCH DOES GENKI 2 COST?

I paid ¥3500 yen for the Genki 2 Textbook at my local, Japanese bookstore and ¥1600 for the workbook.  Keep in mind that prices will change over time and so to will the deals and sales you can find.  Amazon is always a great go-to place to go book-hunting 🙂  

Click here if you'd like to go to Amazon to check out Genki 2 for yourself.


WHERE CAN I BUY GENKI 2? ARE THERE ANY GENKI TEXTBOOK DEALS?

I don't know about the U.S. these days, but you can find a lot of these books in Japanese bookstores, but for those wanting the convenience of having Genki 2 delivered right to your doorstep, it's hard to go wrong with Amazon.  You can check out the Genki 2 price on Amazon by clicking here.


IS GENKI 2 THE BEST WAY TO LEARN JAPANESE?

If you've been reading my reviews, you probably already know my answer to this. "No, it isn't."

Why? Because there is no best way, only a best way for you.  Not to sound all woo-woo and philosophical, but everyone learns in a different way. That's why I'm committing to reviewing a number of different great resources this year, because just one of these tools/resources might make all the difference.

Is Genki 2 a wonderful resource? Yes.
Will it help you improve? Yes.

Always keep in mind that whether you're learning Japanese, German, French, Korean, or English, a textbook is never going to be the end of the story. There's a speaking element that no textbook or app will fully be able to mirror.  


My definition of fluency is being able to say what you're thinking.  Genki 2 can help with that.
But to be great at expressing your thoughts in another language, you have to TALK!


GENKI 2 TEXTBOOK REVIEW: MY FINAL TAKE

Genki 2 Ultimate Japanese Textbook Review 8

To finish this Japanese textbook review, I have to say that Genki 2, like most Genki-related products is another solid Japanese learning resource! It's the book that makes sense if you're trying to add bricks to your Japanese foundations: a bigger vocabulary knowledge base, even more useful grammar points, tougher listening, and exercises to apply what you're learning.

That being said, please don't think that finishing Genki 2 makes you a true intermediate Japanese student. Personally, I don't think that it does. As I mentioned in the cons, Genki 2 can get you to a bonafide low intermediate level.  But if you try the JLPT N3, you'll find that there are words, expressions and some much that you won't know.  It's not a bad thing, it just shows that in order to really understand Japanese, you're going to eventually have to go beyond Genki 2 (or any textbook for that matter).

Using the A through F grading system we had when I was in school, I’d say the Genki 2 textbook lies in the B-/C+ range. It's not as strong as the Genki 1 textbook, but it still has tremendous value.  If you're trying to climb up from your beginner plateau, Genki 2 is a good way to do that without overwhelming yourself. I hope it serves you as well as it's served me.


GOT QUESTIONS?

I'm pretty familiar with the Genki Japanese textbook series. If you have questions about Genki Two, I'm happy to help out however I can. Feel free to post your questions in the comments section below or you can click the "Contact Me" Tab above to send me a message.

I hope your studying takes you Japanese to heights this year. 頑張らなくちゃいけない!

IS GENKI 2 THE RIGHT BOOK FOR YOU?

I still refer to my Genki 2 book.  Yes, even after all these years of being here.  It's a great book for a host of reasons, many of which I listed above. But if it sounds like a book you'd like to try,
click the "buy it now" button to go straight to Amazon. 

Need additional Japanese Resources? Click Here.
See the official Genki Site by going here.

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Donald Ash is an Atlanta, Georgia-born, American expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last ten years. While in that time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator of thejapanguy.com blog. Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
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