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Have Fun With Japanese Graded Readers
Let's Begin Our First Step Into Reading Japanese
I have heard a lot about Japanese Graded Readers and thought I would give it a try. First I would like to say that when studying Japanese, finding good reading material is actually a little hard. Japanese Graded Readers are great in that they give you a variety of stories with each set. Being able to easily read can be a great way to get you excited about progressing farther in your Japanese training. So let’s get started with the Japanese Graded Reader review.
What are Japanese Graded Readers?
Japanese Graded Readers are a collection of short stories put into separate levels depending on how far along your Japanese language ability is. The levels start from 0-4, with 0 being the absolute beginner, and 4 being an n2/n3 level. Within each level, there are around 2-3 volumes. With each volume costing around $40, however, this can add up.
So the question is, are graded readers worth the price? I bought the very first set out of curiosity, and will try and help you reach your own conclusion.
The biggest and most important aspect of the Japanese Graded Readers is the content. How well are they written, and are the stories indicative of their level. Since I bought the very first level and volume, I will give my point of view as someone who is just getting started into learning Japanese.
The first thing that you need to be aware of is that you have to be able to at least read hiragana. There is no help offered within the stories in this regard. One other point of advice, again, with me looking from a beginner’s point of view, is that you need to have a very basic idea of how the particles work. I mean very, very basic.
The first level of the Japanese Graded Readers is interesting for many reasons. The sentences are easy to understand, they are short, and give you the ability to easily find out how to comprehend them. There are not any sentences that drag on and I feel like the first level has vocab that would be within the realm of a beginner’s ability. It offers a lot of kanji that are important and used often, yet not too hard to recognize or remember.
The great things about the stories are the ease of reading. Depending on your level, it could take around 3-5 minutes to read each story. This is good in that the stories are not stressful and entice you to keep reading them, allowing for words and kanji to stick even more.
It will feel good to be able to read in Japanese, without getting caught up in every sentence. The way the Japanese Graded Readers are laid out leads me to my next area of critique.
The next bonus that Japanese Graded Readers have going for them is their artwork. The pictures on the pages are really colorful, and it brings the story to life. They give meaning to the sentences in that what you read can often be interpreted by looking at the pictures also.
It is nice to not be reading a wall of text, but to be reading and seeing the sentence put into action with pretty tasteful and appealing artwork. I think the company that created these books did a great thing in making sure that they appealed in this way too.
Japanese Graded Readers
I know we have all been here. We get excited and buy a new grammar, vocab, or interesting book for Japanese learning, but half of them stay on the shelf collecting dust. The last important critique I have for these books are if they will keep me interested.
I am sure you do not want to spend around $40 to look at a book once and put it away, never to be read again. The thing is, these books add great value, if you buy the right one for your level. You want to challenge yourself, but not get stuck on every page trying to decipher every sentence and meaning. Doing this will only cause frustration while trying to learn.
I have re-read these stories many, many times. Whenever I have three minutes between my various day-to-day activities, I will read a story. By doing this over and over, it will help you instantly recognize kanji, words, and better understand basic sentence structures.
Also, as a bonus, there is a CD that comes along with each volume. This is good to understanding the proper way to say the words in the stories, but I feel like the CD is just a bit too slow to me, but this is just preference, and again, depends on Japanese level.
I really enjoyed these books. I think I will order level 3 next, just because I want to try and match my level, but even reading the very first level was really fun. It got me excited to read in Japanese after trying to find something that I think would match my level.
The sentences are put together nicely and the pictures look amazing. If you are unsure of buying the books because of the price, I would recommend just trying one out and seeing if you like it.
If these books can peak your interest in reading Japanese again, and make it seem like less of a chore, then I think that is $40 well spent. So I would say go out and give it a shot. Try to find the level right for you and enjoy reading Japanese!