Don’t be fooled by the title. I’ve been using extensive reading in my studies for a while now. But I’d like to try some new things, mostly inspired by another extensive reader I recently came across online, Liana. I really recommend you check out her blog. This post in particular is very useful for Japanese learning extensive readers.
In the beginning of my Japanese studies, I avoided children’s books because I was simply not interested in them. I tried a few and found them extremely boring. For some reason, that has changed recently. I don’t really know what happened, but I tried reading one and I really enjoyed it. I also found that I read it pretty darn quickly. It was around this time that I stumbled upon Liana’s blog, probably through a Twitter link, though I don’t really remember. That’s when I read this post about how and why she uses extensive reading.
At first I was very worried about the high possibility of less kanji in my daily reading.
“If I read simple stories, what will happen to my kanji knowledge?”
The issue of kanji is raised in her post and it pretty much eliminated all of my worries. Here is an excerpt from the original post:
[Reading is] the simultaneous application of several skills, of which kanji knowledge is just one. Not to downplay the importance of kanji, because it really is the largest barrier to full literacy in Japanese, but you also have to be able to understand complex sentences without having to stop and think about them, sort out and make use of unknown information, read long strings of hiragana, read words without depending on the kanji (as sometimes authors choose to not use kanji for stylistic reasons, or play around with differences between the expected reading and the given one), predict upcoming content, supplement the text with the cultural information you already know and summon your entire stock of vocabulary.
Now that I think about it, there have been several times where I’ve read a sentence, understood every word and kanji reading, and still could not figure out what the heck it was saying. So maybe this reading simple story method could be useful.
I don’t plan on changing everything I do. I will still listen pretty much 24/7. I will still read manga and interesting blogs. I will still play games (including SRS reps). However, I think throwing simpler stories into my daily routine will be a powerful addition that will show results in everything else I do in Japanese.
This new experiment, as with any, is just for fun. Since fun has taken me this far in Japanese, I might as well see how far I can continue.