Get Your Read On!

So much to read! Magazines, manga, novels, more manga...

Remember when you were little (and literate, not like 2), and books were the most amazing things ever? They took you to far-off places, with new and fascinating characters, on super-epic adventures.  Even when you were still learning to read, each new book was a whole new world.  Not being able to understand every word didn’t stop you from devouring the thing whole and wanting more.

Well, since I’ve started reading literature in Japanese, I’ve got that feeling back!  懐かしい~!

No no, I’m not picking up a novel after 2 years of studying and flying through it with ease, or even understanding every sentence.  I am, however, understanding more and more, learning new grammar and vocabulary, and loving every minute of it.

I can’t recommend reading Japanese literature enough!  It’s done wonders for my learning.

Maybe you’ve tried reading stuff for native speakers, and maybe you’ve loved it, or maybe you got way too frustrated and quit.  I used to read to understand every word and every sentence, every grammatical structure and utterance.  I drove myself into the ground doing this, reading became tedious and painful.  Now I know what makes the difference for me: The way I read it.

The way I read now is FUN and easy!  Learning this way is fun and awesome and “gotta get me some more of that”.   And I’m learning at a much greater pace than I was when I was hyper-analyzing.

All I really need...

How I Get My Read On

To read, I need:

1 Manga/Novel of interest (Must be of interest/use to me.)


Post-It tags or other page-markers
Monolingual and/or bi-lingual dictionary


1. Read for basic comprehension and understanding.  Get really excited when I understand things.
2. If I don’t understand it at all: Skip it. Don’t sweat it.
3. Use dictionary for help if I’m close to figuring something out.  Try mono-lingual first.  If still no comprehension, use bi-lingual.  If sentence makes no sense to me, don’t look up every word in dictionary, see Step 2.
4. Use Post-It tags to mark phrases and sentences I want to put in my SRS at a later time.  (Doesn’t even have to be fancy post-it paper stickies, can make do with with pieces of scrap paper with the first few words of the phrase I want to SRS tucked into the page.)

That’s it.  Easy, right?

Just plop my stickies in the frames with the text I want to SRS. Click on the photo to enlarge it, can you read any of it? (From よつばと!)

A good technique for picking SRS sentences is important to success and learning!  How do you choose what to circle for SRSing?  For ideas,  check out this post on how I pick what to SRS.

Once I’m done with a reading session, sometimes right after, sometimes hours or days, I go back and review what I’ve circled, adding it to my SRS deck and looking up things I need more info on in a textbook or grammar book.  I don’t SRS while reading, it interrupts my reading groove.

I got a lot of my ideas on how to re-structure the way I read from this AJATT post and some from this Rainbowhill Language Lab post.  I tweaked all the info I’d gather together and made my very own way to read that works for me.

You can have fun learning through reading, too!

There are 800,000,004 different types of reading materials out there: books/manga/magazines/newspapers/novels/websites etc..  You’ve got to be interested in some of them!

If you’ve tried before and now dread reading, maybe it’s time to change the way you read.  Check out articles and blogs on how others read, and why, and try ideas out!  Everybody learns differently, so develop your own system that works for you!

*Hums theme to Reading Rainbow*


10 Responses to Get Your Read On!

  1. Theo says:

    I really like your blog, keep doing it! it’s simple and cool… i’m not sure how long have u been keeping writing on but…. it’s cool! 🙂

  2. Great post! Out of all of Japan’s native material, I think manga is the most readily accessible of all. Furigana in 少年 and 少女 manga is a godsend, especially early on (heck, I know I still need it). Plus, よつばと! is just too ridiculously adorable/hilarious not to read. I mean, seriously.

    I haven’t been reading much manga lately, myself – a little bit of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 here and there to sate my appetite for fabulous badassery, and I’ve begun 君に届け to uh, counterbalance (I’d sit next to you, Sawako-chan!)… but there’s definitely room for more. Any recommendations?

  3. B rett says:

    Hi Liz, you’re so true about reading being an escape. I’m really enjoying getting back into my manga. Although it frustrates me that there some higher level kanji that I’ve forgotten, I don’t let it interrupt my flow.

    The gap between your immersion in the text and work building your srs deck is a really important point you make. Above all else you’ve got maintain your momentum through the pages of your book. Being tolerant of what you don’t know, knowing that you can come back to it at some stage later is crucial.

  4. Pingback: Progress 2010 « My adventure learning the Japanese language

  5. Pingback: New to the reading thing? « Read More or Die

  6. chad says:

    Hey Liz, I really enjoy your positive outlook on your learning experience and find your articles to be entertaining and informative. Your approach to reading your L2 is what inspired me to hop on the “Read More or Die” game. I have read a lot today, and enjoyed it a great deal now that I’m not really stressing out about all the things I don’t know and just soaking up what I do know.


  7. cloudhand says:

    I think this time I’m just going to record the amount of words reflect light into my eyeballs. Easy, simple, done.

  8. Pingback: Audio Flashcards « Navajo Now

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