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Learning Diary: Tadoku For Me

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Table of contents for Learning Japanese

  1. Learning Diary: My Language History
  2. Learning Diary: More Language History
  3. Learning Diary: Tadoku For Me

A basic principle of any form of teaching is that a teacher should avoid asking students to do anything she wouldn’t do herself. Dr. Sarah Nielsen, the head of my MATESOL program, always put this into practice by joining us during in-class reflective essays. Most models for extensive reading programs similarly encourage the facilitator of the ER session to sit down and read too. With that in mind, and being fairly well convinced of ER’s claims, I set out to find some graded readers for my current target language, Japanese. (See my previous post on tadoku, or extensive reading, in Japan.)

The bad news for me was that there appears to be only one series for Japanese learners, unlike the many that are available for English learners. The series is レベル別日本語多読ライブラリー (Reberu Betsu Nihongo Tadoku Raiburarii, which I’d kind of translate as Leveled Japanese Extensive Reading Library). The good news is that they’re fairly interesting, with a variety of illustrative styles for each little book, and they come with audio. They’re currently up to 3 sets (“volumes”) with several different levels in each set. Each level comprises a slipcase with several thin paperback books inside.

The cover price for the first level set, which is five short books, is 2300 JPY–about $21 USD at the current rate, including an audio CD with all of the stories. I bought it from Kinokuniya in San Jose, though, so the price was $32 plus tax. You can read about the books at the publisher’s website (some English; click around to get to samples) and at the website of the nonprofit group behind the series. (Unfortunately, the English version of the latter is temporarily disabled for Firefox users.) I’m so glad somebody’s working on rectifying this lack of Japanese-learning materials, and I definitely recommend the series.

A few weeks I sat down to read the first book. It’s a couple steps up from “see Jane run,” but not a lot. It’s very simple and (thank goodness) below my level. Even then, I learned a new verb and got some good review on kanji that are rarely put into beginners’ materials. Much to my surprise and amusement, when I got to the end, I suddenly thought “I’ve finished my first book in Japanese!”

Well, that thought is kind of silly–the writing is totally oversimplified and fairly inauthentic, the book is only a few pages long, and it’s easier than what I should be reading anyway. Right? I mean, it’s not even a real book. But, somehow, I still got that brief flash of accomplishment. That’s worth something! That feeling itself is one of the reasons why easy, fun reading can be such a powerful tool for language learners.

Later, I’ll write about my continuing attempts to use the series, and how it’s helping me with both my Japanese and my teaching. So far, I’d say the experiment is a success. However, I wonder what I’m going to do when I run out of books at my level, since there are so few texts available for anyone who’s not already at the high-intermediate level.

Many of you are also language learners, so how about it–do you try to practice what you preach? I know I have clients whose enthusiasm for self-study puts me to shame. I’m trying to be more like them!

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7 comments to Learning Diary: Tadoku For Me

  • Internet Explorer 7.0 Windows XP

    Hi, I just happen to be here while I was surfing with a word ‘Tadoku.’ I’m really surprised to see you are reading one of the books my friend’s partner is making. I’m a Japanere, learning English, and a bid fan of Tadoku. You site seems to have tons of things I’m interested in, so I’m going to dig more now. Thank you!

  • Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1 Mac OS X 10

    Hi, emmie! How cool. Please tell your friend’s partner that I said “Thank you!” ;)

  • Internet Explorer 7.0 Windows XP

    I forgot to ask you. May I introduce you and your site in my blog and こども式site to my Tadoku friends?

  • Internet Explorer 7.0 Windows XP

    Hi Clarissa, Thanks for leaving a message in my blog.
    I rearized now that you have to register first to leave a message in こども式site.
    This is the place to register.
    http://tadoku.org/kb/kb7.cgi?c=ue
    ユーザ名: nickname
    メイル: mail address
    パスワード: password
    登録: click here when you’re ready

    If you feel like it, Have a try. 

  • Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1 Mac OS X 10

    Hi, emmie! I have to fix my blog so that I get e-mails about comments! This is bad. I’m sorry. Anyway, yes, you’re welcome to introduce me and my site. Thanks! And I’ll try to join that website soon.

  • hotsw4p
    Google Chrome 5.0.375.125 Windows 7

    Hello Clarissa, I think it’s great that you are “practicing what you preach” and that you’re giving 多読 a try. I have been actively studying Japanese on my own for about a year now, and just recently started getting into some low level reading material. I have found the manga よつばと! to be highly entertaining, with furigana to help read more difficult words and a lot of colloquial conversation. The main character is a young girl too, so her dialogue is almost always in hiragana/katakana.

    I arrived at your site from a search on the term “tadoku” because I recently joined a “competition” (read: fun language learning game) that involves reading as much as we can in our target learning language. The site devoted to the “competition” is here: http://readmod.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/read-or-die-returns-with-more-reading-and-dying/

    I mainly just wanted to drop you a note to say that I enjoyed reading some of your posts about “extensive reading” and how important it is to language aquisition. Thank you for sharing!

    • Mozilla Firefox 3.6.8 Mac OS X 10

      I’m so sorry it took me so long to reply to you! I actually just bought よつばと!not long ago, actually. I have the first volume in English as extra insurance… Anyway, thank you very much for the kind comment, and I’m sorry again for the delay in replying to you. I’ll check out “Read or Die”–how fun!

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