What do you use to practice reading and what level did you start to read more at?

I think around level 13 or 14. I got to level 10 and tried going through みんなの日本語 to start learning grammar, but I lost steam on that. Then a few levels later I got into Cure Dolly’s grammar videos on YouTube and started reading some Tadoku graded readers.

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Do I have to subscribe to it, or would you use the free edition? I just looked up that tool, never heard about it before… it looks fine, how do I sync it with WK though?

Think I started reading around level 18/19 with a visual novel that had just come out. Really worked for me since all the dialogue is voiced and I can practice reading out loud the stuff that isn’t.

Was using textrator in the early days but then I read a thread on here talking about learning kanji through context and that has been really nice. I’m about 50% done with N3 grammar on Bunpro but I haven’t done any serious vocab studies outside WK so I don’t get all the nuances :sweat_smile: but the immersion is really nice. Hoping to replay in English when it’s finally out so I can see how well I actually did.

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I started reading before I started with WK.
Since then my main sources were:

  • NHK easy News
  • An App called Todai (which includes many japanese news articles from different news papers, and articles are ranked in JLPT Levels based on their vocab and Kanji)
  • YT videos with subtitles written by the YTer

Recently I bought the Persona 5 Mangas, I don´t understand them fully, but since I am a big sucker for the franchise and already am familiar with the story, it´s not the biggest dealbreaker. I also come across newly learned Kanji from WK regularly, which is neat.

I agree with the others bookclubs are nice, my personal advice is to read anything you´re interested in, no matter what. If you´re enjoying the process of reading you´re good to go.

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I like using podcast transcripts since I can confirm pronunciation, kanji readings and enjoy short, current-events or history-based content. Some good ones to start would be Nihongo Switch, Haruka the Real Japanese Podcast, Japanese with Noriko.


I recently started watching anime with jap subtitles. 1 episode per day.

It does 2 things necessary for reading IMO:

refreshing your memory of kanji (especially those burned you surely forgot) and reading speed, since you have to keep pace as the characters speak.

I realized that reading manga I am really slow because I do at my own pace, and that’s not good. So anime it is!

I wish raw anime episodes were like USA tv shows that already have subtitles. It is a pain to find synced subtitles :smiling_face_with_tear:


i started reading before i started using wk. Just start with some easy manga or short stories and make sure they have furigana. N5 is probably enough to read level 3 or 4 books on tadoku and as you progress your grammar just keep at it. I have a bad habit of stopping books after halfway, so i dont read as much, but you should read as much as possible. Also, it may be slow at first, but just keep going, and then you will gain some fluency and speed.

oh and yes, make sure to read nhk web easy, its great!

In my case I started reading when I was around N4 level for grammar and around Wanikani level 15. I was reading NHK Web Easy and Shinkanzen Master for N3. Shinkanzen Master is aimed for JLPT exams, but it has explanations about how to read a text and offers a large variety of texts (mail, letter, pamphlets,…).
I also started video games quickly after that. For example, in a couples of level and a solid N4 grammar, you could start Pokemon in Japanese. You will encounter some unknown kanjis, but you should be able to understand most of the game without major difficulty.

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I think I started around level 30ish, but you would be well served by starting earlier.

I actually started with Harry Potter even though it’s fairly difficult. Some of the advantages are:

  • I can have both the Japanese and English versions side by side and the translation is pretty close sentence by sentence
  • Japanese and English audiobooks are easily available

Start as soon as your time and frustration tolerance allow.

Choosing material to read is a tradeoff between difficulty and interest: more advanced books will be harder to read, very simple books will be boring.

I’m right now about at the point where I can read material for Japanese middle school children without having to look up every. single. word. So I’ve reached the point where (for me) I’m actually reading, rather than practicing dictionary use.


I’m just another voice for reading as soon as you can (depending on your tolerance for ambiguity and frustration). Picking manga with furigana is a great way to get started without needing to know kanji. If you do start reading, I also highly recommend joining up with some of the book clubs, such as the Absolute Beginner’s Book Club or the Beginner’s Book Club.

The ABBC is currently reading ハピネス(Happiness), and just barely started on the 5th of March, so there wouldn’t be too much catch-up to do if you decided to join!

The BBC is just about to start 夜カフェ on March 26th, which is a light novel, as opposed to a manga, but it does have furigana, and from the skimming I’ve done while working on the vocab sheet, it is very accessible. I know that light novels look like a lot more text, but keep in mind that you’ll run into a lot less colloquial stuff than you will in manga (given that manga is pure dialogue), so some find it easier to read light novels in spite of there being a higher text density per page.

I notice that your profile picture is Nino from 五等分の花嫁. I am personally reading that series on my own, apart from a book club. If that’s a series you might be interested in starting at some point, I shared some thoughts on the difficulty level of it in the comments of the ABBC thread.

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Oh, I forgot to mention, there are also a bunch of spin-offs from previous book clubs and the like, and oftentimes, even if you are coming into a club that’s already finished, if you post a question in those threads, you’re still likely to get an answer! So if any of the current picks or nominations don’t strike your fancy in the clubs, you can check out the Master List of Book Clubs and see if any of those listed there are more your speed!

Another place to start besides manga or light novels would be Satori Reader. I haven’t used it much myself since I came across it after I’d already started reading more difficult things and just haven’t carved out the time to check it out a bit more, but I hear a lot of positive things about it as a good place to start getting some reading!


I started reading early on after starting WK, too. I started with graded readers, level 0. Then I got “Learn Japanese With Stories” by Clay and Yumi Boutwell. The “Learning Japanese…” are short, easy Japanese stories with vocabulary and grammar notes on each page to explain that one page. Great stuff!


For reading to be useful, you need a basic corpus of vocabulary and grammar. How basic is debatable. I recommend being at least in the teens in WK, with a decent grasp of N5 grammar - but at that point probably all you’ll be reading is level 0-2 graded readers, which honestly are too short and easy to be good for anything except a sense of accomplishment.

When you’re in your 20s in WK and into N4 grammar, that’s when you start getting into real (but still very easy) material. The easiest manga are in reach here (see the Absolute Beginner/Beginner book clubs); I was reading NHK Easy for a few months. I moved from NHK Easy to Satori Reader when I felt like I could.

Here’s the thing to understand: drilling SRS and grammar are slow, boring ways to learn. We start with them because you need that base of knowledge to get you started (especially with Japanese, because kanji). Once you can read, that’s better and more fun. But there’s a horrible in-between part where you can’t read well, but you’re also tired of drills, and it feels like you’re not learning anymore and getting good at Japanese is impossible. This is where people get depressed and want to go back to drills because reading is too hard. The secret - apparently, I’m still in this phase, and probably will be for the next few years or until Japanese breaks me and I give up - is to just keep reading until you get better.


I’ve found that a mix works better with reading plus some kind of SRS. That way you can do the other when you’re procrastinating on one. :wink:


Yeah I think SRS as a way to remind you of what you’ve read is very different from srsing words out of context from a list someone made. The former is a pretty good idea if you ask me.


Ah - I didn’t mean that you drop SRS cold and never touch it again. You can keep doing it as long as you like. But as I said, it’s a slow, boring way to learn (a language - if you just need flashcards for something, SRS is the way to go).

If you think back to English classes in school, they were much the same way. I remember having vocab lists to memorize from elementary through junior high, and we hit grammar pretty hard in junior high as well… but most of the curriculum was reading aloud in class, or answering questions about a piece of writing, and there were a lot of writing assignments too. By high school, it was almost entirely reading and writing.

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I think it might be boring for some people but I definitely wouldn’t call it slow. Realistically it’s got pretty insane return on investment. I certainly wouldn’t be close to where I am if I didn’t srs


Well, the boring part depends. :wink: If it’s composed of items from your reading the interest is already there.

And sometimes you need an SRS for those words you don’t come across often enough when reading.

Aye, that works when you already have a solid foundation in the language as a native speaker.

While you could just keep reading and trying to slog through this phase, adding some kind of sentence and/or vocab SRS will speed things up considerably (see @Vanilla ’s comment above).

I was in this phase for almost a year before I started doing sentence SRS cards and started to see a marked improvement almost immediately.

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That’s a realization I came to as well since I had to create a second set of decks for my German classes :stuck_out_tongue: .