Is Minna no Nihongo Good for Self Study?

There are different ways to learn Japanese, and one of them is self-studying. If you want to self-study Japanese, you probably would have been advised to get some study materials such as Minna no Nihongo. However, you may be wondering what Minna no Nihongo is and whether this book is good enough for self-study.

If you don’t have a basic understanding of the writing systems of the Japanese language already, we don’t recommend Minna no Nihongo for self-study.The primary reason for this is that Minna no Nihongo is written in Japanese without any English explanations in the main book. Therefore, in many situations, you will struggle with understanding many of the lessons in the book. Although there is a separate book for grammar explanations, it still doesn’t help that you need to consult another book before knowing what you have already read in the main book. As a matter of fact, this can be discouraging for many students that want to self-study.

So, Minna no Nihongo is more recommended for learning in class than self-study. However, this doesn’t mean you cannot use it. You only need to switch from the main book to the translation book to find meanings of any aspect that you don’t understand.

Nonetheless, if you already understand hiragana and katakana, Minna no Nihongo is good for self-study. The book is comprehensive, well-structured, and engaging; hence, it can provide you with everything you need to improve your knowledge of the Japanese language. So, if you are ready to self-study with Minna no Nihongo, you should first get some materials for learning hiragana and katakana.

Good things about Minna no Nihongo

If you are trying to use Minna no Nihongo for self-study, it is paramount to know the good things about the book. Here are the things you should know about Minna no Nihongo:

  • It is well-structured

Minna no Nihongo is a well-structured book that makes it easy for you to organize your learning schedule. There are two levels of Minna no Nihongo, and each has 25 different lessons. Each lesson in this book contains sentence patterns, vocabulary, conversation, and example sentences. Once you are done with each lesson, you can easily and quickly move to the next one.

The book introduces the readers to certain characters that will help in achieving your learning goal. Your task is to follow the journey and experience of these characters as they enjoy their stay in Japan. This detailed structure makes it easy for you to use the book. Hence, you may be able to use it for self-study if you have some knowledge of hiragana and katana.

  • It has lots of exercises

Minna no Nihongo has three different levels of exercises that are designed to boost your learning. The first level is to assist you to understand the grammatical structure of Japanese whereas the second level will aid your knowledge of patterns of the language. Lastly, you have exercises that focus on improving your conversation abilities.

Apart from these exercises, there are also practice questions that you can use to test your understanding of Japanese in the comfort of your home.

  • It has translation and grammar notes

If you are using Minna no Nihongo for self-study, the translation and grammar notes will come in handy for you. Generally, most Japanese language books only have English translations, but Minna no Nihongo provides translations in several languages including Vietnamese, Chinese, etc. These notes don’t only make self-study easier for you, but they can also speed up your learning.

In addition to translation notes, you can also get grammar notes that will shed more light on Japanese. With the notes, you will learn Japanese pronunciation and writing systems. They will also show you the conjugation of verbs and counter suffixes.

  • It comes with an answer key

Exercise B and C questions in Minna no Nihongo are important to learning Japanese whether in class or alone. Luckily, Minna no Nihongo has an answer key to these questions. So, after practicing the questions, you can flip to the back of the main textbook to find the answer key that will provide answers to the questions. This makes this Minna no Nihongo better than most other Japanese language books that require you to buy a separate book for answer keys.

Based on the content and structure of Minna no Nihongo, you can use it for studying for the JLPT levels N4 and N5.  However, it may not be useful for higher and more difficult levels of the test.

Downsides of Minna no Nihongo

The main downside of Minna no Nihongo that may make it unsuitable for self-study is that it is written in Japanese. As a consequence of this, beginners that don’t understand hiragana and katakana may not be able to use this textbook. It is noteworthy that Minna no Nihongo has charts for the hiragana and katakana, they are not well-explained. Therefore, you cannot rely on them to master the writing system needed to understand the resources inside the book.

Even if they get the translation book, the study flow will be disrupted from time to time. Hence, it may difficult to learn as quickly as possible on your own.


Minna no Nihongo is undoubtedly a great book for Japanese students. However, you may not be able to use it for self-study if you don’t have any previous understanding of the Japanese language. This is simply because it is written in Japanese, not English. Resultantly, you will struggle to understand what the book is teaching in most cases.

So, if you want to use Minna no Nihongo for self-study, you are advised to first learn basic hiragana and katakana writing systems. Some of the materials you can add to Minna no Nihongo to self-study Japanese include FluentU, Duolingo Japanese, Wasabi, and Genki. Also, you can read Japanese content in media, join forums with lots of Japanese speakers, and watch anime and Japanese movies and shows.

My Recommendations for your Japanese learning

  • JLPT N5 Prep-Test By JLPT TUTOR Check out
  • Japanese Pod 101 Learn Japanese fast for beginners Read more.

Krisada Hemsoe

I'm Krisada, the creator of JLPT TUTOR. I created this site to share the path of my Japanese learning That I achieved my JLPT N1. You may struggle with Kanji , Grammar , Listening, reading and fail again and again. I know how you feel when you see "Not Pass" I want to share what I learnt in this past through this website. Hope you enjoy

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