Okay this is a stupid question, but in terms of Japanese reading, do you guys read it word by word while translating it into your native language, or just read it and move along as long as you understand the gist of the sentences and the story?
I’ve tried both ways but there’s always this perfectionist part of me that wouldn’t feel satisfied by just “understanding” it. I’ve always wanted more than just understanding the story, I want to actually KNOW what the nuances mean and even translate the whole book if possible (which I also tried for a book called 余命10年, but only a few chapters so far).
I know it’s better to just read, look up difficult words as they appear (or write them down or even create an anki deck for them if I feel like it), and read it as if I were reading any other English books. I mean, while I’m reading English books, it’s not like I’m translating it into Indonesian (which is my native language), you know?? I just read it. I understand it and move along to the next book or whatever I feel like reading at the moment.
So why does it feel so hard for me to just READ a Japanese book??
I’m currently reading a book called スターティング・オーバー which I’ve read in English 2 years ago and I’ve been wanting to read it in its original language for a long time. Now I’m actually doing it, but I always feel like I need to understand the sentences and words I’m reading in Japanese as if they’re written in English. That’s why I keep comparing the Japanese and English version whenever I’m reading it.
For context, my Japanese level is somewhere between N3 and N2, I think. I’ve never taken nor passed JLPT N3 but I’ve tried so many JLPT N3 mock exams and I passed them all so I guess it’s safe to say that my level is N3-N2.
So yeah. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, what’s the ideal way to read a Japanese book for an Intermediate learner like me? Or for anyone learning Japanese, really.
- Read it as if you could understand it naturally (don’t try to translate, just take the words in and digest it using your Japanese brain, not your English brain), but look up new words whenever necessary.
- Become the book’s translator and make it your life’s purpose to translate the whole thing into English. It takes a long time, but this way, you’re REALLY sure that you actually understand everything. But yeah, this takes an insane amount of time for sure.
- Or…I don’t know. Other ways of reading books that I don’t know yet?