Review: Reading aloud in Japanese

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It’s nice to buy some new learning material from time to time. Not only to mix up your study routine but to treat yourself to some Japanese goodness again. Always a welcome motivational booster for me. My university life is becoming more and more demanding with each passing semester and Japanese studying time is becoming rare. You all know how it is – after a long exhausting day and constantly new obstacles to overcome you just don’t have the energy for studying Japanese anymore. It still works to a certain degree for me but when the “heat times” with end tests approach I usually can’t manage to study Japanese and dentistry at the same time anymore.

But even if I’m not steadily learning at times I’m still fit enough to shop for some neat new study materials. Which I can then use in my holidays. Btw. picked up a Nintendo Switch the other day and love (love) the system. It’s like they made this one especially for me. Maybe you remember my articles about great import worthy games for the Vita and maybe you remember as well that I’m a little handheld buff. The ability to be able to just continue playing wherever you are is just awesome. And so I can just search for the next temple in Zelda lying comfortably in my sheets before bedtime. And what makes the system even better (and relevant for JTease) is its region free capability. But more about the Switch in another post.

Reading aloud in Japanese is for all those who’re still struggling with understanding spoken Japanese and want to give their listening ability an extra work over. The great thing about this pretty little book by Ask publishing (who’re constantly putting out great stuff) is the form of their content. From actually pretty useful stock conversations to Japanese poetry there is everything in there. For each chapter there is a vocab list with keywords and phrases. After that, each unit is divided into 5 steps which guide you through the listening, reading and speaking (if you’re up for it) section of the book and audio cd.

The actual translations are stacked away in the back of the book so you can’t cheat your way out of translating yourself, or better, you won’t get distracted by the translations. After each unit, you can take a little note on how well you managed this exercise from zero to 100%. Neat little easy to implement a feature which more textbooks should implement.

One of the key factors to staying motivated is feeling your progress and what better way to keep track of that than actually taking a short note after each newly learned material.

Reading aloud in Japanese is a pretty cool book to have because it actually contains some interesting stories and conversations for once. And the material gets more demanding as you progress and doesn’t just stick to one level the book is aimed it. I chose the beginner version though but even in there the content gets gradually more difficult (which I’m not used to from reading/listening along books).

  • Buy Reading aloud in Japanese at CDjapan
    (If you buy the books through my links, I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome books for review)

  • Buy Reading aloud in Japanese at CDjapan
    (If you buy the books through my links, I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome books for review)

From beginner to intermediate learners this book is a great way to practice your Japanese listening and reading ability as you read along the dialogue as well. Recommended especially as a substitute for the Genki workbooks.

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  • red pengin

    Hi! I’m a university student (minoring in Japanese) and with finals finishing this week, I’ve been looking for some interactive Japanese study material to treat myself to on the long flight back home later this month. Would you recommend this book for someone who just finished Genki II? Otherwise, I’ve also been thinking about getting the shadowing books you reviewed earlier. Looking forward to your input :)

  • Lars Bos

    Hi Jakob, I know you also do WaniKani, but have you also tried learning kanji with the book “The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s course” ? About a month ago I put a pause to WaniKani because I just got stuck, then I decided to do it in my own pace and ordered the book. Really excellently written, and has a different way into letting you memorize it!

    • JapaneseTease

      Hey Lars never heard of the book before but just gave it a look. Judging by your recommendations and all the excellent reviews it really seems to be an excellent alternative to WaniKani. Especially if you can’t seem to integrate WaniKani into your daily schedule anymore. Can you also use it as a supplement to WK? Will probably order it next week :) Thanks a lot for the tip.

      • Lars Bos

        Never heard of it either! I always came across Remember the Kanji by Heisig, that one stands out for some reason, but this one is supposed to be better! And yeah, i’ve been having some trouble keeping up with WaniKani, therefore I looked for a more relaxed alternative so I could study in my own pace.

        What is different from WaniKani is that it doesn’t force you to remember all the readings, instead it asks you to focus on the vocabulary, that way you will remember the readings. And the writer deliberately put together certain kanji (blade & sword for instance) so you could see & memorize the differences.

        I don’t really think you could use it as a supplement, but maybe that is personal. If you have a certain mnemonic in your head it’s best not to switch it with something else (in the beginning). But, that said, if you reach like 1200 characters in the book, you could go back to WaniKani and keep them locked in your memory (or improve your memory) until you start reading Manga (or other japanese literature)

        Cool, you should definitely try it out!! If you do get it, be sure to check out the intro, it’s a bit dense but it lays all the groundwork for learning it!

        • JapaneseTease

          There is such a vast of great books to learn Japanese with out there that it gets more and more complicated to make a decision. But I will definitely get this book. Thanks for the lengthy write up. I used to study with Anki and Heisig in the very beginning but it became a little frustrating because you don’t really make any useful progress unless you finish the first book with recognizing each Kanji.

          Regardless, will pick it up and definitely write about it on the site. When that will be – who knows because I rarely get to study Japanese anymore. But I need to adjust to my new schedule anyways and if a cool new book which allows me to study Kanji and vocab more flexibly is the answer then I’ll definitely go for it.

          Thanks a lot for commenting and keeping me interested in studying Japanese. Seriously, comments and suggestions like yours make this small site the fun project I always wanted it to be :)

          Have a great week and let’s stay in touch.

          • Lars Bos

            Yes I agree, there is a lot. I constantly check every site to see if there is something interesting, but this book stood out. Awesome that you will be ordering this one! Really interested in how you will be learning from it.

            And yes, finding the time to study Japanese is hard. And sometimes you have to find the motivation to do it. Especially when you’ve had a busy week. But what I usually do is visit a store, or a ramen shop or watch something like an obscure movie (still deciding on that black society trilogy btw) and usually i’m going back at it! (if only you could magically teleport to Shibuya..)

            Happy to help & give tips. I really like this blog, it stands out because you have excellent pictures and nice long reviews. So please keep it up!

            Have a good one!