The purpose of this post is to explore the idea of starting a book club where we not only read in Japanese, but also discuss in Japanese! Forums are a uniquely wonderful place to practice both writing and conversation skills, a sort of shallow end where you can converse with others while still taking the time you need to compose what you mean to say without feeling any (external) pressure.
Note: a few lines are bolded for easy TLDR
I have thought about this a lot, and my initial vision was of a low-pressure environment, like a book club that meets up at a bar. A place where people can feel comfortable just saying whatever they’re thinking, even if their command of the language is less than (or not at all) perfect.
It might help to choose a book that either was previously discussed in another book club, or one that’s currently being read in another book club. That way any hardcore grammar questions can be answered in English in another thread, and we can focus on chatting about the story and whatever else comes up in Japanese.
To keep the atmosphere more like a social club (in Japanese), rather than a language class, I think it might help to not do any grammar correction in-thread. Correcting each other in-thread could derail the focus on conversation, and might also make folks more self-conscious and embarrassed of their own mistakes (thus making them more hesitant to participate).
More on that: Most of us have plenty of opportunities to study intensively (for example in the ABBC and the BBC); this club would be focusing on the skill of actually getting words out there in the first place, making it clear what you’re trying to say even if you don’t have the right words, getting into the flow of a conversation. (But all that in the low-pressure environment of a forum, where you have plenty of time to compose yourself and look up words if you straight up can’t remember them …) Speaking from personal experience, you may be surprised how much you’re able to communicate, even if you’ve literally never tried to communicate in Japanese before!
Of course, if we don’t understand what someone’s trying to say it would be fine to ask them for clarification, or if they make a really embarrassing mistake just warning them about it as an aside, or if they make a really funny mistake sharing the joke in a gentle way. That all seems like good bar banter.
My last (but not least) point: the WaniKani forums are a great place, but right now they are mainly accessible to people who speak English with relative ease. Although chatting in Japanese might be harder for a lot of us, it may also be easier for others, and how awesome would it be to be able to get to know those folks as well?!
NB I have run a similar book club before (on a different forum) but my own Japanese communication are (still) only まだまだ / very basic. In my view, this club will not be about achieving perfection, but rather making the attempt to achieve real communication.
However, this all depends on having a group of people who have more or less the same goal in mind! So if you’re interested, please share any suggestions, preferences, ideas, etc!
Now for some polls!
- I’m interested in this idea!
- I am interested but have some reservations …
- I am not interested
- I just really need to click a poll
From this point on, please only answer if you are interested (with or without reservations) in participating!
- Absolute Beginner
- Absolute Beginner
- Something from a previous or current book club
- Something new!
- Let’s decide later during nominations and voting
- Japanese-only thread focused on the story with little to no discussion of grammar
- Japanese-only thread with story and grammar discussions (to the extent that we are able)
- Japanese-only story discussion thread paired with a Japanese-only grammar thread
- Japanese-only story discussion thread paired with a grammar thread (in any language)
- Something else! (Explain in comments, please!)
- Let’s have a nominations and voting thread in English
- Let’s have a nominations and voting thread in Japanese
- Let’s have a nominations and voting thread where we can use either language
- Something else
These polls are just to get the ball rolling and get a sense of who’s interested. I’m sure I haven’t thought of everything or explained it all perfectly, so comments of all sorts and on all aspects are welcome! 日本語で書くのはもっと容易いだったら、それをしてください。