I have been learning Japanese for a bit more than 3 years now. I started with Duolingo and after a few weeks/months I felt ready to read real Japanese (in hindsight, I reckon that was pretty naive…). The problem : I could not find anything that was easy, free, and fun.
Since then I have worked on producing such content myself and the result is here.
There is about 30 pages of very simple content that I personally find fun and pleasant.
Words are introduced using Emojis and others are derived from the context by the reader. They are then repeated as often as possible to act like a natural SRS. The idea is that if you keep reading, you assimilate easy words and learn new ones on the way without having to stop to check the meaning of a word in a dictionary.
I hope you like my project. Any feedback is more than welcome.
(As I mention at the beginning, I am still learning Japanese so the Japanese is not 100% perfect but I improve it over time ).
EDIT : the first 3 parts have now been proofread by a native speaker.
EDIT2 : I have written a very cool pixel art illustrated N4 Graded reader. See this post
EDIT (2022-06-28) : my new story is here The Tile World Chronicles
Good stuff. I did the Rosetta Stone course a few years back and I honestly think I would have just preferred to go through this instead.
ps. obvious comment but you should add navigation
The colours and pictures are so beautifully chosen, Drdru. I will enjoy looking at that. (I already enjoyed the cat getting its comeupance). Thank you for sharing the link!
I love the visual design!
It’s difficult for me to judge if this would have been able to teach me Japanese or not, so instead I’ll share a bug
Some of the characters don’t seem to work for me “chrome on macos high sierra”.
The missing characters seem to be “🠦” U+1F826 Rightwards Triangle-Headed Arrow with Medium Shaft Unicode Character and “🠤” U+1F824 Leftwards Triangle-Headed Arrow with Medium Shaft Unicode Character (It just displays as a box on those pages as well)
psst… There’s loads
All good - looks to be unfinished at this stage. I flicked through to the end when the English notes to the developer were written all over the pages.
Wow, this is so so cool! I wish I could judge how useful it would be to an absolute beginner too, but my Japanese is too advanced at this point to tell.
I think this is genius! I can’t give a beginner’s perspective but it seemed super fun. It get’s a bit weird towards the end but I think it’s definitely worth improving.
Thank you so much for the kind words everyone. Creating this can be a very lonely activity so it feels good to have some (very positive!) feedback from time to time.
It is clearly unfinished but I definitely plan to keep improving things and add content.
@crihak : I’ll fix the bug when I have some time. Thanks for letting me know about it.
@Epona : choosing the colors takes me ages so I am glad that you like them. The picture are actually a free Emoji font made by Twitter. They deserve a lot of credit since that allows to have the same visual experience on every device
It’s a picture book for grownups!
I tried picture books made for Japanese kids early on, but they didn’t help much because they mostly used kana. Thank you for your hard work on this.
Ok I have fun with that thank you
This is brilliant. Genuinely fun and enjoyable. The tongue-in-cheek-ness really propels it along. I’m really very impressed.
My daughter, who is 7, is currently at the age where you see a lot of the picture-instead-of-word reading exercises in her native language, so I know how useful it is. I really like this approach for learning foreign languages, because it makes the process so much more fun.
Great stuff. Keep it up.
i find the value of rosetta is it’s ability to check your pronunciation in the early stages especially when learning alone. the audio check really does work. gives you a good base to start off with which no other app can do except for a live teacher.
for instance my japanese pronunciation was so off when i tried just imitating what i heard & had no idea what i sounded like + i was sure my pronunciation was good. like i would have gone on pronouncing thoト like to, if not for rosetta.
That’s fair enough, I think that is one of the positives of using something like Rosetta Stone.
Although I would still say an app like Busuu is better, purely because of how out-of-date Rosetta Stone is. They are virtually the same in concept but in practice worlds apart.
An example of something in dire need of update in RS; there are countless exercises where you have to type out the text that you hear. And it forces you to type only in ROMAJI and most of the time, you type the correct reading and it doesn’t accept it, but you don’t know what it wants because the readings are inconsistent (and even sometimes have spelling mistakes). It’s the worst.
EDIT : I’ll keep working on this in the future. What’s linked to is very much a draft. The Japanese has not been proofread is very likely full of errors.
I have been working on a related project lately and I finally have something good enough that I can share it.
It is an illustrated fantasy story in very easy Japanese. Once again the goal is to provide genuinely entertaining content to read for beginners. I have made my best to simplify the Japanese as much as possible and hopefully it is not too broken… (I am more used to read than write Japanese).
Anyway, I hope you like it !
Oh my goodness this is amazing I’ve been looking for a way to practice easy reading! Thank you thank you
I love the colors and the format; everything looks so nice
I am glad you like it! Bear in mind that I am not a native speaker so the Japanese is so so… and since you are a beginner I’d recommend to be very cautious. But hopefully one day I am fluent enough and I can fix all the mistakes and make it sound more natural.