At last!! The last story of １０分で読める biography series.
It took me quite a while to go throw the entire series, but it finally came to the last story today. (which is the very suitable story of Koichi Wakata, the veteran japanese astronaut, with some final words at the end of the tale, from the man himself, encouraging japanese kids to persue their dreams ).
I started and went simultaneously with the first volumes while still reading the Graded Readers series Lvl.3 and then 4 from Ask, I don’t know if that serves as a reference, but I thought on mention it if someone is about the take the leap, since it felt like a nice transition (altough a steep one). Mixing both series served to interchange the difficulty and give me some breaks while going throw the first half of the series, which felt somewhat more taxing than the last ones.
By far the most difficult of the volumes was the first volume, for several reasons. First, the series has progressively more and more kanji in the vocab, relying at first on hiragana for a lot of words that you would encounter otherwise written in kanji, at least for the parsing it’s well controlled and there’s spacing between words that usually prevents from confusing them, but I really missed those kanji. The other point that put some difficulty on the start was to encounter unknown grammar points mixed with the new vocab. Graded series introduce only a handful of grammar points per level, native series don’t take that much into account, so it’s every men by himself.
I found myself more or less along the entire series picking up about 30 new words per story, which is like 2 words per page, so indeed the graduation is mostly on the unique vocab and vocab count per story I would say, alongside with the kanji, that progressively starts to appear with every new volume, mostly presenting characters that are expected to be known in the previous level, though for the most part there is furigana on almost every kanji.
A couple of changes over the last 2 volumes that really made a huge change in the way I went through the stories: first, I bought a Kindle and decided to purchase the last two volumes in ebook format. Huge game changer!! Reviewing new vocab on the spot super quickly made the lecture a pleasure and quickly started to resemble to just reading (just at a different speed).
Second, I made use of the vocab builder feature in Kindle to export all the new vocab into Anki and made flashcards directly with those sentences (I used to only put the vocab, but was too lazy to also copy the sentence it came from). That really has made my recent reviews much more entertaining, since I get to remember where that word came from, adding more of a personal context.
Lastly, since the vocab started to really pile up as I read more often, I decided to apply some frequency list filter in Anki, and started adding to my reviews only the vocab ranging in the 20K most common words. I started with the mentality that if the word was in a children’s series it must be a basic vocab. Progressively that just wasn’t the case, as these are biographies and the vocab can pretty much be related to the life of the character alone but still be quite rare.
Anyway, there you have it. I’m really glad I picked this series, as it kept me entertained until the very last story. I learned a lot actually, and overall feel this is material I can share in regular conversations as general culture and not so japanese oriented / learners stuff only.
Next reading challenge, that first novel!!
EDIT: I didn’t notice before but biography series are like a thing in Japan, there’re a lot more series, though revolving around mostly the same characters. I saw Steve Jobs as the new character added in some series. There’re series that go deeper into the life of the characters too. All in all I think they are nice resources for people struggling to find a theme not too childish as the first introduction to native material.