I study Japanese every day. I have studied Japanese for about 10 years.
In 2014, I tried to read a book written in Japanese for the first time. The name of the book is, 「ハリー・ポッターとふしちょうのきしだん」
I wanted to improve my Japanese reading level. I decided to read Harry Potter because I already knew the story. I had read that book in English many years before. I thought, “I know what happens. I’ve studied Japanese for 6 years. This book is for children, and the difficult words have furigana. Surely, I can read it easily!”
Right away, I was surprised. Reading in Japanese was really difficult! I wanted to read 1 page without stopping to check a word in the dictionary, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even read 1 sentence without stopping!
I was determined not to give up, so I started taking notes. I made a vocabulary list. I looked up all of the words I didn’t know: fushichou, kishidan, uranai, kantokusei. It took a long time.
Soon, I got tired. After reading 1 chapter, I had 3 pages of notes. I thought, “this is taking forever! It will take me 3 years to finish this book!”
So, I stopped checking every new word. Instead, I waited until I saw a word 2 or 3 times. Using this strategy, I could read more quickly, and I stopped worrying about understanding every word.
If I couldn’t understand the meaning from the context, I used the dictionary to look it up. By “context”, I mean that sometimes, we can understand meaning from hints in the sentence. For example, look at this sentence:
“When the waiter came to the table, we first ordered some quesadillas.”
If you don’t know the word quesadillas, you can probably guess that it’s a type of food or drink, right? Because from the context, we know that:
So, we can keep reading without using a dictionary. But, if I see this word many times, and I want to have an image in my head, I can check it.
Reading a book in English is a great strategy to improve your skills. I recommend it! And yes, I finished the book– in only 3 months! I really worked hard, and read some pages every day. So, here are my recommendations for reading a book in a foreign language:
What do you think? Have you tried to read books in English before?
I hope you’ll give it a try!