Best Books To Learn Japanese For Beginners 2021

by Erika Shinomoto
best books to learn Japanese for beginners

Want to learn Japanese? Here are the best books to learn Japanese for beginners. These Japanese learning books are easy to follow and you’ll talk Japanese like a pro in no time!

I believe that it is always beneficial to know multiple languages. Not only is it important and beneficial, but it can also be quite fun. Imagine being able to converse with people of different nations, or being able to watch movies and shows without the subtitles.

Isn’t it quite appealing? When we think of learning other languages, one of the most popular options is Japanese. It is quite a popular language among learners. 

To learn a new language, you need a book that gives you all the basics of that language, including grammar. So, what are the best books to learn Japanese for beginners? We have the list here for you. If you ever decide to learn Japanese (and you should give it a shot), do check out these books.

Top Books To Learn Japanese For Beginners

#1 — Minna no Nihongo

Best Books To Learn Japanese With Reading Practice

This is quite a book that gives you an in-depth knowledge of the language. The book teaches you Japanese using its extensive material that covers quite a lot and uses complex terms. The reason why this is one of the top books to learn Japanese for beginners because it covers a lot more than other textbooks that are available.

Since the book has Japanese text, it gives you a lot of reading practice. And reading is the best way to learn any language; it will keep you connected to the language, increasing the familiarity with it. The book also has in-depth and intense explanations of grammatical concepts. However, you would need to get a second translation book to use the main textbook. 

Related: Here are some of the best books by amazing Japanese Authors!

#2 — Genki

Best Easy-to-follow Books To Learn Japanese For Beginners

Genki is yet another amazing book that will help beginners get a grasp of the Japanese language. It has an easy-to-follow lesson structure. It has dialogues, which will keep you interested throughout. These dialogues are curated using target vocabulary and grammar.

These concepts are then taught more clearly in easy-to-understand lessons. Genki is a splendid series that builds a strong foundation that you need to move on to intermediate levels. 

The concepts have been planned in carefully curated lesson structures that make sure you get in-depth knowledge. The explanations are clear and concise, making it easy for you to follow. There are no shortcuts for you if you choose this book; you have to invest your time to learn and absorb all that has been explained in the book. 

If you reach the end of the book, you will have a good understanding of grammar, vocabulary, and more. Using these concepts, you can move further to intermediate levels.

The book is divided into two parts: Conversation/Grammar and Reading/Writing. With these two parts, you will have all that you need to build a foundation. Apart from the books, audio CDs and workbooks are also available for ease. Check out this best books to learn Japanese for beginners down below!

Related: Here are amazing Japanese children’s books in English. Check it out!

#3 — Japanese for Everyone

Best Affordable Book To Learn Japanese For Beginners

The Genki series can be expensive, so this book is an excellent and inexpensive alternative to it. The only backfall of this book is that there is no audiobook available. Apart from that, this book covers almost as much as Genki I. 

It is quite affordable and will give you a good grasp of grammar. The book has all the concepts mentioned extensively and taught using discussions that are centered around real-life situations and natural Japanese explanations. 

However, the explanations provided are brief, so you will need outside supplements to get in-depth knowledge.

Related: Here are amazing Japanese novels you have to check out!

#4 — A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

Best Books To Learn Japanese For Beginners aka The Yellow Book

This book is known as the “Yellow Book” or “The Bible” among Japanese ex-pats, and rightly so. It is one of the best selling Japanese resources that are perfect for people who are new to the language. The book has concepts that have been explained clearly and thoroughly.

You will find some great example sentences in the book to get you acquainted with the language. For a beginner, this Yellow book is like a holy grail. If you are at a more advanced level, you may want to check out the Blue or Red books by the same author. 

Related: Here’s a fun way to learn Japanese – Check out these super fun anime!

#5 — Japanese for Busy People

Best Books To Learn Japanese For Beginners With Practice Quiz

Are you a busy person who cannot devote a lot of time to learning Japanese? If so, this book may be the answer to your prayers. Each of the chapters in the book introduces you to grammar and vocabulary. Teaching new concepts happens gradually. The best part about this best books to learn Japanese for beginners is that it lets you self-evaluate your progress. How? There is a quiz at the end of each chapter that tests your understanding of the concepts taught. 

The concepts are taught using dialogues, which are more realistic than what you would normally find in other teaching books. At the beginning of every chapter, you would find clear explanations of grammatical concepts. Audio CD is also included with the book, which is a great plus point. 

Related: Here are some helpful English-Japanese dictionaries to help you learn and talk Japanese quickly!

#6 — Japanese: The Spoken Language

Best Books To Learn Spoken Japanese For Beginners

If you are somebody who needs detailed explanations of grammatical concepts, then this is the book you should go for. The book and the series that it is a part of focuses on speaking the Japanese language.

For this purpose, the series has been developed based on pronunciation, which makes it easy for you as beginners to grasp the foundation better when it comes to speaking Japanese. The book comes alongside an audio CD that complements the book and helps you create a strong foothold. 

Related: Learn Japanese by watching fun Japanese Netflix shows. Check it out!

#7 — Adventures in Japanese

Best Books To Learn Basic Japanese For Beginners

Do you need to learn the basics of Japanese quickly? Are you planning a trip and need to get some insight into speaking Japanese? Then it is this book you must check out. It will help you learn the basics of Japanese quickly. The book contains a lesson review at the end of every chapter. 

Also, there are grammar exercises that test your understanding of the lesson. What else makes this one of the best books to learn Japanese for beginners? It has a checklist of things that you need to know before you proceed to the next lessons. It is quite a good thing because you can easily check your progress and see where you stand. 

#8 — Japanese from Zero

Top Books To Learn Japanese For Beginners

This is another popular series, even though it is relatively new. As the books have only just hit the market, you can expect to see up-to-date contents that are fresh. Which is why it’s one of the best books to learn Japanese for beginners. 

The discussions in the lessons are slower compared to other books. This makes this quite a good option for people who are only just beginning to get acquainted with the language.

Best Books to Learn Japanese for Beginners

Best Books To Learn Japanese For BeginnersPrice
Minna no Nihongo$72.99 
Japanese for Everyone$48.00 
A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar$40.42
Japanese for Busy People$23.45 
Japanese: The Spoken Language$29.67 
Adventures in Japanese$69.99 
Japanese from Zero$38.50 

Factors to consider before buying one of the best books to learn Japanese for beginners

Before you rush to Amazon to buy one of these best books to learn Japanese for beginners, these are some factors you must consider:

  • Your skill level

The first thing you must consider is your skill level. If you already know some Japanese and can speak and understand the language, a beginner’s book is not for you. You might need something that takes the level higher. If you have lived in Japan or have learned the language previously and only need to brush up, you may want to choose an advanced learner’s book. However, if you have only just started taking interest in the language, you can check out these best books to learn Japanese for beginners that we have listed here.

  • Your learning style

How do you learn fast? Is it by reading or by listening to someone? If you learn quickly when you listen to someone, it is wise to purchase an audiobook or a book that comes with an audio CD. If you learn quickly with illustrations, go for a book that uses a lot of graphic content. It is important to first understand your learning preferences before you choose a book.

  • Your plans

Why are you choosing to learn the language? Depending on your future plans, you will know how thorough should you be with the language. If you are planning to stay in Japan for quite some time, or are traveling to the country for studies, you need to know more than the common phrases. You need a book that will teach you all the common expressions, but at the same time, it should also teach you reading and writing Japanese. Similarly, if you are going to do business in Japan, you should pick a book that teaches you about business Japanese.

Now, keeping these factors in mind, let us look at some of the best books that you can get to become acquainted with the language

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