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Reading Practice: How in the name of Zeus do you do it?

When starting to practice reading in a foreign language what is the best way to go about it?


I'm learning Japanese and when I sit down to read, I am lucky if I understand a handfull of words in a big story. It's almost the case that I'm simply practicing my hiragana and katakana...but faster. 

What I've been trying to do so far is read the words -even though I don't understand 97% of them - and listen to the accompanying audio file. (e.g.

I look up some of words in online dictionaries -especially for the kanji- but find this to be quite a chore. Perhaps this is the only way to do it...? 

Anyway, any advice for reading practice would be great. Interestingly, there are a bunch of resources online for what to read in a new language, but not that much on HOW one should go about their reading practice. I want to approach it like a surgeoun, not a wrestler :D


Thanks in advance, 


Mar 3, 2015 12:52 PM
Comments · 5

Hey, Robert!

What kind of texts are you reading? In my opinion, beginners and intermediate students should read texts adapted to their level unless they have a very good grasp of grammar and just need to look up vocabulary. Otherwise, I think it would become 1. very frustrating 2. very useless.


However, there's a super super helpful tool for reading Japanese on a computer. It's a plug-in called "Rikaichan" on Mozilla and "Rikaikun" on Chrome. When activated, you can hover your mouse over a word and you'll see the pronunciation and the English translation. It makes reading a lot faster (copy-pasting kanji is horrible). It's a tool I always recommend!!


Good luck with your Japanese!  がんばってね!

March 3, 2015

If you can go all through it, it's worth trying. The important thing in language learning is that you shouldn't doubt what you're doing. Maybe there is a more effective way. Maybe someone tells you yours is somewhat ineffective. However those doubts are harmful enough to drag you down. The way you can keep on is the best way for you, and which is related close to your nature. Hope you can find it.



March 4, 2015

I did it.  Took a while.  Was quite a bit of work but I really enjoyed it.  I get the impression that most people bail on it before they get very good because I have yet to meet another foreigner that got all the way through it (though I do see some of them in blogs and so forth).


I could write a book of my own on all the stuff I tried, what worked/what didn't.  Happy to share but they don't allow for very long comments in these areas.  Contact me directly if you want to hear all the stuff that I wish someone had told me before I started out.

March 4, 2015

Well, reading Japanese books for beginners again and again might help you get the hang of reading Japanese. I'm not sure if this will answer your question but I thought I could share my experience. When I first started reading English books , I was really frustrated as I could find few words that I understood. What I did was very simple. I quit reading English books for a while. I kept reading my English textbook which I was using in a class aloud again and again.... At first, I could understand what's written on it since I'd learnt the translation in a class, so it was more like understanding(or memorising) the story in Japanese. What's interesting is that after I kept doing it for a period of time, I noticed that I could read and understand the story in English. (Hope you get what I mean.) It helped me a lot to get used to English itself and to understand how English sentences are constructed. Other than that, I watched many English films with English and Japanese subtitles. The second time I watched it, I tried watching it only with Japanese subtitles. Then, the third time I watched it, I tried watching it only with English subtitles. In this way, you can practise reading English, understand or imagine the meaning of the word in Japanese, and it's good for pronunciation practice! Though I'm still bad at reading, I think I've become better at it than when I first started reading English books.
Good luck:)

March 3, 2015

Read children's books! I read using the nihon mukashi banashi series. They only use a couple of kanji. 

You can buy them on Amazon.

March 5, 2015
Language Skills
English, Japanese
Learning Language