Reading in a new language can seem rather daunting, even painful at times. Some people preach that there are ways around this, but after a year and a half of trying to become fluent in Japanese by reading stuff that would be considered difficult, I haven’t found it yet. The truth is that I don’t read much these days. Getting new English books here always seems to be too much of a hassle. And here I’ve been trying to read whatever Japanese books I could get my hands on. Manga, language learning theories, fiction, old literature, etc. What I’ve discovered is that it was a mistake to read manga or old literature or whatever solely because it was manga (or something) and it was in Japanese. I just wasn’t getting into it. So, what the hell can I read?
Because of the enormous amount of time and exposure required, the last thing we want to spend as little time as possible being bored, frustrated, angry or what not.
I started by asking myself a very important question – “What did I used to read back in the day?”
Lots of Stephen King. So, I went to amazon.jp and ja.wikipedia.org and started to read about Stephen King books that I’ve read in the past and know pretty well. Reviews, summaries, character descriptions, etc. And its been great. Even though every single page has plenty of words that I don’t know, I know enough that can skip as many of those words as I want. I mine everything for sentences of things that I want to see again in my SRS. But the two most important things going on here are that I’m enjoying reading, and I am READING. I only read as long as it stays interesting. If I start spacing out or getting bored or frustrated…I do something else, or go look for something else to read. I can always come back to the current one if I feel like it.
So anyways, I’ve devoured a lot of Stephen King stuff in the past few days and tonight I’m poking around summaries of Star Wars and Robocop. I also really wanna get my hands on some of the Jp translations of SK’s books.
Anyways, how does this help you? Well, I’d say Thai is more limited than Japanese as far as I know in regards to translations from English when it comes to books. However, there are loads of movies and tv series to work with. So as I’m writing this, Lost is on tv so I figured that was good enough to start with. If you watch that, or Prison Break, Heroes or what not, we might have some material to work with.
So again, how do we go about reading this stuff when we still suck? And don’t forget we are mining SRS material as we go. Let’s do some a couple quick lines…
First sentence from the Prison Break Wiki
Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์แอ็กชัน ดราม่า ทางโทรทัศน์ ออกอากาศครั้งแรกทางช่องฟ็อกซ์
This one is full of SRS goodness. What have we got?
Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์ – PB is a series
Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์แอ็กชัน PB is an action series
Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์ดราม่า PB is a drama series
Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์ ทางโทรทัศน์ PB is a tv series
PB เป็นซีรีส์ออกอากาศครั้งแรกทางช่องฟ็อกซ์ – PB is a tv series that was first broadcast on/by Fox.
Get the idea yet? Let’s look at the the first line from the Lost Wiki. A bit longer you may notice.
Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ที่อเมริกา ที่มีเนื้อหากล่าวถึงผู้รอดชีวิตจากอุบัติเหตุเครื่องบินตก บนเกาะลึกลับ
See anything from the Prison Break sentence in this one?
Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ – Lost is a drama series
Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ที่อเมริกา – Lost is a drama series in America
Lost เป็นซีรีส์ ที่มีผู้รอดชีวิตจากอุบัติเหตุเครื่องบินตก = Lost is a series about survivors of a plane crash
Lost เป็นซีรีส์ ที่มีผู้รอด เครื่องบินตก บนเกาะ – Lost is a series of plane crash survivors on an island
บนเกาะลึกลับ – on a mysterious island
Tear apart the sentence until its only got 1 thing it in you don’t know. And if you are still trying to practice reading at a basic level then keep the phrases really short, but don’t waste time with single words. Words out of context are forgotten too easily. There isn’t anything wrong with having a few of the same sentence with only one word changed.
Now, go try and skim through a few of those. Set goals. Mine 3-5 flashcards/day. You don’t need to SRS everything and there isn’t much point to try to do too much at once anyways. Just SRS stuff that you see a lot of and want to remember or anything that jumps out at you. Its always ok to delete sentences later. And when you get up into the thousands – you will, often.