Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I

Ryan Francis Lidster


The release of a new edition of the widely used Japanese textbook Genki has been widely anticipated. While most of the changes are subtle and aesthetic, there are noticeable improvements, especially in the efforts taken to better represent the diversity of the Japanese learner population. However, the textbook's unsystematic treatment of vocabulary and grammar reflect a teaching philosophy that, already dated when the first edition was published twenty years ago, has only drifted further from the field of second language pedagogy. The disjointed treatment of literacy and oracy skills make it difficult to understand what is "integrated" about the course it provides. Great teaching can still be achieved using Genki, but it will require considerable creativity on behalf of teachers, especially those concerned with demonstrating how progress through the textbook aligns with measurable outcomes or gains in proficiency.

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