Grade readers and katakana

I want to mention two things

1 - Did you guys also had a struggle with katakana, my hiragana is good I can simply read it. But with katakana, it is more like when I see the English word first I’m like ah this is what the letters mean, and then I can read the katakana. I can not directly recall the katakana from my self when looking at it.

2 - What do you think about grade reader, I want something to read daily next to my studies in Anki. Does this first chapter 0 come as a package? or just one single book.

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To this day, I read katakana slowly compared to kanji and hiragana, and I’m sure that’s a common thing. It gets better with practice, though, like everything else.

I don’t have any experience with graded readers, so I can’t answer about that.


I’ve also struggled a lot more with katakana vs. hiragana. I’ve gotten better with practice, but certain characters still tend to trip me up a lot (looking at you, サ and ソ). I think it’s mostly a function of not having nearly as much exposure to it as hiragana. Also, the katakana characters have always seemed very bare and minimalist to me. Lacking in personality, as it were, compared to hiragana xD I think that makes it harder to immediately recognize and remember them, at least for me. Not as easy to visually distinguish them, because a lot of them have a similar “look.”

There are 3 volumes of Level 0 graded readers: each volume comes with 6 short books and a CD. They can be a bit pricey, but I would recommend them. They’re good practice for beginners, and a good confidence booster when you can read through them and not have to look up much (if anything).


They are a good resource, but I have no personal experience with level 0. I bought my first ones when I was around JLPT N5 and went directly to level 2. I would be inclined to push up a bit higher with these and have to order a lower level, then to order the low levels and have it too easy.

If you have your sights set on taking the JLPT exams, these are great for listening practice since there is not really much material out there that are real comprehensible stories for people at very low levels. Yes, the packs of 5 books are expensive, but factoring in the CDs makes it easier to swallow.

If you are in USA, your best best is to order via Amazon Japan. I bought 2 packs during a trip to Tokyo - the remainder I ordered a few at a time through Amazon around a few Christmas times. I’m thinking you might not get a break on shipping if you order multiple packs, so it makes sense to split into a few smaller orders over time. Play with the order page and see.

Once you get through all of these, do check out the Magic Tree House books in Japanese. Those books have TONS of material per book to get through and the grammar is all really easy - I think JLPT N4 level will get you through them, but the expanse of vocabulary needed is much wider.

Funny story with katakana… I learned this LONG ago because it meant I could look at menus and figure out what to order without knowing ANY Japanese. I learned it first because of that… then fast forward many trips later. I went to an all you can drink bar where the whole menu was nothing but katakana and by about drink 6 my ability to decipher it was greatly diminished to the point where I thought I had forgotten what I learned first! Yes, katakana is challenging since it is trying to make an unnatural fit to works that weren’t meant for Japanese pronunciation! Certain words will jump out easier with repetition, but new ones will never read easily like words in hiragana. Oddly, once you start to know a decent amount of kanji, you’ll be annoyed by words spelled out like 友だち instead of 友達.

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As for your graded readers question, there are more than a couple of series. The most common ones follow the Tadoku “guidelines” as for start reading as a regular activity.
Common ones are the Japanese Graded Readers by Ask, Taishukan Graded Readers and White Rabbit Press Graded Readers (Ipad versions). The levels in all this series it’s equivalent, and after 500 and less with the very basic of grammar (halfway throught Genki or similar) you can start with ease.
Then, there is the Oxford Brookes Let’s Read Japanese series, somewhat cheaper if you’re in a western country and with similar quality. The level in this series are a bit off. Level 1 would correspond to the Level 2 in Tadoku scale of difficulty.

Anyway, most of the series have the respective audio for the stories, except to the Oxford series. They are all great, similar in quality, so you might start with any of those :+1:

PS: Level 1 in the Taishukan series is a mix of level 0, 1 and 2. So if your aren’t just starting, could be a nice starting point.

I need to restudy katakana. I had it down pretty good. It have forgotten it. At my level which is still below N5 it is rarely used. Just a few words in genki use it and wanikani hasn’t used it expect for a few words. I’m pretty good with hiragana though. Just more stuff to keep working at

A really good way to enforce your katakana is learn a lotta lotta loanwords (all written in katakana). There’s a couple great courses on memrise that are just katakana loanwords. After using those, your katakana will probably be perfecto. Plus, loanwords are really easy to learn because it’s literally just the word shifted up a little bit. Also tofugu’s mnemonics can help if you forget any of the characters, and there are a couple of resources to try to help u distinguish shi/tsu and so/n, which are the trickiest of kana.

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I saw my katakana levels really increase when I spent a month in Tokyo. They were eeeeverywhere! I practiced by readying everything I could come across.

Happy to hear I’m not along with this, Katakana trips me up all the damn time. I have a much easier time with kanji these days than with Katakana.

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I don’t struggle with katakana but I do have to sound my way through unfamiliar words. I’m a picky eater and studied in Japan at the beginning of my time learning Japanese. I don’t even remember actively studying katakana so much as staring intently at bakery signs looking for ingredients I hated! Desperation is an amazing teacher because I’ve never forgotten them.

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