Absolute Beginners Book Club // Currently reading: Prefecture Stories ・ Next: Hunter × Hunter

Hey! If the Absolute Beginner Book Club is still a bit too tough for you, I have two recommendations for you:

  • To start out reading, graded readers are great - and of course, free graded readers are even better! They start almost from zero.
  • For later, I think Japanese Short Stories for Beginners is a fantastic book for a reading experience that is harder than the picture-heavy graded readers, but still a fair bit easier than the Absolute Beginner book club picks. The stories aren’t super exciting, but I enjoyed it a lot because it was the first book without pictures that I could actually read without a dictionary.

In general, learnnatively.com is a great website for picking reading material appropriate to any level.

And I second the italki recommendation. My regular conversation sessions there have improved my speaking ability so much, and it’s great having a place to ask questions.

8 Likes

I put my eyes on this satori reader and have the intention to subscribe because it is something that looks so well made that I’ll use a lot as soon as I’ll be able to!
But at the moment the easiest satori article is too hard even for my level. I’m getting some strong structured grasp on grammar but at what WK level would you suggest me giving it a first try?

this experience gives you feelings of power I konw :wink:

I second this, but I’ll wait because I’m not going thru situation where it would be required to talk japanese any soon, so I’m just focusing on vocab/kanji/grammar but I can’t wait to start reading! :grin:

3 Likes

12 Likes

For me its more like this tho

12 Likes

Regarding Satori - yes it’s great! The ability to read, and especially with a tool like that where you have complete control over kanji vs furigana, is going to depend on your grammar level more than WK level, though. In my experience, N5 grammar (Genki I), and a couple years of speaking practice (thereby informally learning much of N4 grammar), was the point when the easy stories on Satori were just right. That being said, Satori provide explanations and translations for everything, so you can jump in earlier (which I also did), it just takes more effort. I haven’t tried their Human Japanese series, but those apps start from level 0 and Satori has extra resources and audio for those which might be helpful. I’ve seen a lot of people recommend them.

I personally found the level 0 and 1 graded readers from ASK publishing were a great stepping stone to reading. The free ones are also ok, but if you can afford them, these paid ones build one upon the other very intentionally and are a pleasure to read. You can genuinely start from zero and work your way up as long as you’re making minimal efforts on the side with grammar progress. After finishing Level 1 is probably when a transition to Satori or books here makes sense.

The other thing I have to say is, manga was impenetrable for me until two things happened: 1) I went through a Doraemon episode together with my Japanese friend and she explained each speech bubble. That was like magic and opened up the casual speech forms amid the distraction of being thrown into a new story. 2) Lurking/following along WK book clubs in retrospect. In the beginning you won’t be able to keep up, but it’s really worth buying a book that’s been covered here and reading through the posts and referencing the vocab sheets. It makes it so much more accessible and you’ll soon find you don’t have to look everything up.

6 Likes

Thanks a lot for your suggestions and for telling me your experience! I found it very useful, even tho I was hoping to jump onto satori articles in 2-3 months from now. Well I will need more time then haha!

so, you are suggesting me to use the ASK material as the very first approach to reading? What is it exactly?
About grammar, I’m studying the most that I can, considering my currently poor vocab/kanji level

These are the ones I mean - depending on where you are you may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere, or even used. Japanese Graded Readers by ASK – Tagged "Series_Japanese Graded Readers, Japanese Level_Beginner" – OMG Japan

They come with professional recordings of each story on CDs but you can download the audio here: https://www.ask-books.com/jp/tadoku/level-1/

They are expensive and by no means required - but fantastic if you can afford them (as a supplement to a well-organised grammar resource) because they get you started reading and help you build up that skill in a fun and easy way. Edit: so to answer your question - yes it’s what I recommend to first approach reading, but some people use other resources, or dive straight into native materials and battle their way through. Do what works for you!

The main thing I find (personally) with grammar and vocab is to just keep going! It feels slow, but as long as you keep going, the knowledge builds up and it gets faster and faster to learn more.

1 Like

I was lucky enough to find all the three volumes of Level 0 on amazon with prime shipping, but dmn it’s lots of money :ok_man:
Just to be clear, because I’m thinking of buying them - are you saying I could begin with these as a preparation for more advanced (yet the simplest available) satori articles? Because I’d really like to start reading ASAP but only if it’s just one step away from my current level, and not more.


2 Likes

What is your current level? And how are you learning grammar?

1 Like

Ok so, I begun studying japanese literally less than a month ago even tho I thought about it for a long time. Before that, only exposure was anime.
I unlocked level 3 this morning and I’m studying genki 1 + some lessons on youtube such as Japanese from scratch with Cure Dolly’. This series brung me to a level where I know how to conjugate verbs and adjectives in their present, past, negative, present continuous (affirmative and negative) and also masu forms, and I’m getting a solid grasp on how everything else works verb wise (or at least I believe so lol). I have a clear idea of what some particles do, such as は, を, が, だ and の and I begun realizing how to form more complex sentences by inverting the positions of the various elemens and particles in a phrase.
This all comes from yt vids, in fact genki study is proceeding slow. I’m a perfectionist and I’m not mentally able to study a chapter if I’m not over with its vocabs list :joy::man_facepalming:

1 Like

That’s great! Wow, you are going a lot faster than I did. Yeah, I think you’ll be fine. In fact, follow the link to the audio for these and listen to a few from the Level 0 - if you understand most of it, it’s too easy, start at Level 1.

Once you finish Genki 1 and Level 0 + 1 of the ASK graded readers, yeah, you’ll be ready to start with Satori. Push through several articles. If it doesn’t get easier quickly, then try to make quick progress through Genki 2. By the middle/end of that you’re definitely ready for Satori.

Keep in mind, no matter what, Satori will be difficult at first, then it will get a lot easier after the first few articles.

After you read on Satori for a while, keep in mind reading native material will be difficult at first, and then it will get a lot easier after that initial hump. I’ve never heard of anyone say it was easy. But as you see, there are a lot of kind people on WK who will help you once you get that far.

3 Likes

PS what I do is study 3 chapters at once in different phases. So once you have gotten past the first few chapters, do Genki Ch 6 vocab, Genki Ch 5 grammar, Genki Ch 4 all exercises. Make sure to do the listening exercises, and make sure you notice the book and workbook have two halves (front and back), that you do in parallel. This means you’re not held up by the vocab, so, in the above example, once you finish Ch 6 vocab and reading through Ch 5 grammar, you can start reading Ch 6 grammar. Meanwhile, do/finish Ch 4 exercises, then move on to Ch 5 exercises. Anyway that’s how I’m making Genki II more interesting (since I’ve learned most of it but am going through it more thoroughly now).

2 Likes

I’m happy to hear from someone better than me that I’m improving at a speedy pace but I have to admit I’m not working this month and half the next so I don’t really know for how long I’ll be able to maintain this pace…

sounds like a great plan!! thanks, I’ll go as you recommend

I can imagine… going from satori to manga or even worse, true novels must be traumatic :hot_face:

I wouldn’t make it with all the help and informatiions I got from since I’m on this forum :pray: :pray: :pray:

3 Likes

haha, novels - yes, another beast beyond children’s books and manga. I’m not there yet. See you in the intermediate-advanced book clubs in… x years :sweat_smile:

Have fun!! And don’t worry about slowing down, most people seem to have fast and slow periods. This community is great for motivation!

2 Likes

Indeed! The truth is, this is the best community anyone could ever ask for, it’s full of experts answering every kind of question in detail (thank you god), there are long ass guides for any kind of purpose, book clubs, posts to share achievements and join challenges. The makers of wanikani did a f*ng good job but the people in here are awesome :raised_hands:
Let me tell you, the proof is that I’m actually learning japanese while living in a 6k inhabitants countryside town in the south of italy where people barely speak italian and where literally no one has even ever heard someone speaking japanese.

Edit: let’s not forget posts about orange cats

5 Likes

:sweat_smile: :+1: :four_leaf_clover:
you’ll be one of those experts answering questions soon enough :sunglasses:

3 Likes

I know… deliriums of a fresh beginner…

1 Like

@mariodesu I agree with @mitrac and also with what you are saying. I am working on several Genki chapters at the same time. The material is actually pretty dense, though it did not seem that way initially. I am currently on Genki Chapter 4 - but also still working on 2 and 3. As the vocab was getting more complex in Genki, I also felt I needed to learn it first to get more out of the lesson. At the same time, I was ready to move faster on grammar, with writing lagging behind a bit.

Currently: reviewing Lesson 4 vocab with plans to start Lesson 5 next week; middle of Lesson 4 grammar (and I do the corresponding Practice exercises as I go); have completed Lesson 3 workbook and reading exercises - will do same for 4 when done with grammar (and that’s when I will start L5 vocab). Have a writing exercise still for L2 and the Kanji/writing for L3 still to go. I like writing with pen/paper so I am planning on going through learning to write kanji, even though if you type - the kanji will pop up as you type hiragana. I also create my own “exercises” to help me solidify material and process it in my own way.

I use KitSun for Genki vocab - they have an SRS deck just for Genki. Anki would be free - but I haven’t had the time to figure it out and make my own, plus KitSun is very much like WaniKani in that it requires user input rather than just flipping cards. I would also put in a plug for Tokini Andy (who I learned about in the community forums here) - he offers quite a bit of support and explanation for both Genki 1/2 and the 2 Quartet books that follow that I find immensely helpful as a solo learner.

I invested in the Graded reader - just the very first of the level 0 sets to see if I liked it and find the level to be just about perfect, challenging but not overly so. I am ready to re-read the first 2 books having gained a bit more vocab and grammar both in Genki and WK. I have also read a few free ones but agree that they are not as good. If you have the resources, would recommend the purchase.

I was definitely over optimistic about being able to try to read native material at my current level. I am also finding Sartori over my head right now - so I am going to be patient and step back to the graded readers and keep focusing on Genki but will still hang out on this thread and keep up with what is going on.

3 Likes

The good news is getting in as much as you can now (within reason) will make it easier to coast at a slower pace later.

When you’re still new to reading, even going from finishing a ten-volume manga that you’ve become familiar with, to starting a different and more difficult manga, can be quite a difficult experience!

It feels like going from Easy Mode to Hard Mode.

Easy mode: Lots of this:

Hard(er) mode: Lots of this:
image

6 Likes

And I thought it was already pretty dense after giving a speedy read at chapter 1 :joy:

This further fuels my confirmation bias, vocabs first and grammar lessons later haha!

This is pretty much the same for me except that I won’t progress if one thing isn’t 100% over, do you find yourself good this way? It’d probably get confusing for me

lol totally the same

You sold it to me, I’m buying it