Reading in Japanese

I have started trying to read different manga and books in Japanese. I have now accumulated 5 different manga series in its original Japanese and 2 book series that were originally in English but now is in Japanese. I try to read as much as I can possibly read to see how much I can read. I have enough Japanese knowledge that I can get through quite a bit of the book. There are times when I do not know the kanji that is written so I have to look it up or ask my tutor about it. I find I really enjoy reading in actual Japanese for manga.

For manga I have:

  • Elfen Lied” by Lynn Okamoto: a gory manga that I love a lot! The story is very intense and sometimes it is hard to keep up with.
  • Gakuen Alice” by Tachibana Higuchi: I first read this series in English until Tokyopop closed down and stopped distribution of manga. I love the characters and story.
  • Hana to Akuma” by Hisamu Oto: This is a cute manga that I really enjoyed reading and it was easy to read.
  • Help” by Kiyo Fujiwara: This is a really cute manga and it is really easy to read in Japanese.
  • V.B. Rose” by Banri Hidaka: Like Gakuen Alice, I read this first in English but didn’t get to finish it in English so I finished it in Japanese.

For originally English books I have:

  • Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling: This is an incredibly difficult to read in Japanese but it is an excellent goal to have for my learning Japanese.
  • How to Train Your Dragon” by Cressida Cowell: This was much easier to read and it is really cute to read in Japanese.

How Did I Learn Japanese?

I have been learning Japanese for several years now. I started off learning a few words that were in the Japanese versions of anime that I would watch, mostly Naruto because I hate the English dub of it but I will get into that in a later post. I didn’t start to officially learning Japanese until I reached university and started Japanese 101. I took the night class one because that was the only option for me at the time. I loved the teacher, though her exams were incredibly difficult, she would tell us different stories and would always make us laugh at her descriptions of the Kanji strokes. I had that teacher for two semesters, 101 and 102, and then it was on to 201 and a different teacher. This teacher was quite a bit different from the first one but just as kind. She seemed more proper and refined than the first. She would make us laugh at her getting some of the English phrases wrong and she would be like “wait, no, that’s not right is it?” and we would have to explain what we thought she was trying to convey. I enjoyed both teachers and their teaching styles.

It was in 201 when our teacher mentioned something called the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. What is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)? It is an exam that is used to evaluate and certify Japanese language proficiency for non-native speakers of Japanese that is held worldwide. There are 5 different levels, the starting level is N5 and it goes up to N1. I was interested immediately but incredibly nervous to take it that December, it is offered in July and December at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. I didn’t completely decide to take it until I made a friend the next semester and she told me she had taken the exams and was working to get her N3 and was going to take it in July. This prompted me to fill out the application to take it in July as well. I started studying when I was done school and then when I got a job I studied during my lunch hour. It was very difficult to study when there are a bunch of noisy people around and then when I made friends they wanted me to sit with them and I couldn’t say no. The exam date came up quickly and I am glad I was with my friend because I was so nervous that day. One thing that irked me is that I would have to wait 2 months to find out the results, 3 if I hadn’t done the application online. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the results but I was still disappointed to learn that I hadn’t passed, neither had my friend we had actually got the same mark which was kind of creepy. So I was left wondering how I was going to be able to pass because I truly did not know how I could take the exam again and actually pass it. My friend finally suggested that I get the tutor she uses. I wasn’t sure at first and then I finally gained enough courage to email her and request her services. I was so surprised when I had my first lesson with her and I found I actually liked how she was instructing me even though she  had never taught me before. After a month or so of her instructions I had asked her if she thought I was ready to take the JLPT again and she said she believed I was. So after that, I applied to take the JLPT that December! I kept having my lessons every week and studying for the exam. December came along and I wrote the exam. I did not know how I did so I was forced to wait and see. I kept having my lessons every week because I wanted to work on my conversational Japanese and if I ended up passing I wanted to write the N4. Fast forward to the beginning of February when I looked on the results page of the JLPT and found out . . . I PASSED!! I was so excited I ran to my parents and told them. I couldn’t wait to tell my tutor and when I finally got to she was so excited for me. Now it is onto N4 for me!

What textbooks have I used to study from?

One thing you have to remember when learning a foreign language is that it takes time, patience and practice. It is possible to learn the language if you are willing to put in the effort.

For more information about the JLPT go here.