Any tips for comprehension speed?

When I’m reading aloud text from, for example, the dialogues in the beginning of the chapter in genki, I tend to have two modes of reading: just saying the sentence/text out loud, and then looking back and comprehending what I just said. Reading aloud isn’t much of a problem, but going back and comprehending what I just said takes a considerable amount of time.

I realize that just reading more and more will improve my comprehension speed, but are there any other tricks you guys have up your sleeve to blend reading and comprehending together?

Not a trick, per se, but going back and analysing the sentence, part by part, really will pay off in the end. Over time, you will get a feel for how Japanese is actually spoken & written, and just as with English (or your native language, if not English), you will be able to quickly parse for meaning and pick out the important parts.


Emphasize re-reading and speaking content you already understand. Make it a point to reread exercises from a couple chapters ago to help reinforce your recognition of those patterns. Mastering what you’ve learned will make it easier to focus on what you don’t know when hitting weird or complicated sentences.

Japanese has a ton of set expressions and phrases, so it helps to study those. Familiarizing yourself with these will decrease the burden as they often reduce the number of items to comprehend in a sentence (eg. a + b + c → a + b1).

Consider reading up about the content in this thread:

The last thing I try to do is compartmentalize and/or simplify sentences. There was discussion about sentence diagramming which can be applied to Japanese as well. It really helps when you get into issues with modifying clauses, quoted phrases, ect.


Aye, I was actually just thinking about that sentence diagramming; totally weird to me in English, in terms of the specific approach, but the core idea is exacty right and is how I was taught basic grammar for a variety of languages, at shcool. I.E. Analyse the sentence; where is the verb, what is the basic meaning, what is the tense and person (this is actually way easier for Japanese in some ways!), etc.


wow, thanks for the detailed reply! I couldn’t agree more with going back and making sure I master those basic structures/patterns from before in order to focus on the new stuff. Also, I really liked that collcations thread, gonna save that one for later. again, thanks :slight_smile:

In this case the continual reading practice will help sharpen your comprehension skills. I think you’re on the right track going back to properly digest what you’ve actually read through. Piggybacking on ccookf said, over time the process is automatized to the point where you’re not spending a lot of mental resources in the actual act of reading. One option is to try to separate the reading aloud from the process as that it takes mental resources not only to interpret what you’re reading but to make the necessary sounds to verbalize the words. If you spend a little extra time and read silently for comprehension first, then practice reading aloud you will help speed the comprehension process along. Once you get very good at quickly parsing meaning, you may see an improvement when you go back to doing your usual routine.

I pretty sure there’s a strong rationale for what you’re doing know, but just putting that out there for your to consider.


ok, so flip the order of focus from

reading (verbalized) → comprehension


comprehension (still reading in my head) → reading (verbalized)

Often, I’ll shadow a native speaker’s voice ( or sometimes a robot lady’s voice :frowning: ), so I have even more effort put into pitch accent and pauses and whatnot. So, I can see this working, especially with your rationale. I’ll give it a go for a bit, can’t hurt to try. thanks for the awesome response. :slight_smile:

That’s basically the idea. I’m assuming you’re aiming to comprehend the content in one go rather than in two, three, etc, right? By pushing aside those other factors (pronunciation, prosody, etc.) you brain can spend more time focusing on meaning. If you even avoid sub-vocalization (saying the words in your head) and try to glean meaning, you will increase your ability to improve comprehension until your are more fluid.

The obvious companion to this exercise is studying any grammar that may trip you up as well. But I’m sure you’re already doing your due diligence in this respect.

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