Taking the world less travelled

Reading Manga For Japanese Language Learning

Posted by on Jun 2, 2008 in Language | 6 comments

One goal for many learning Japanese is to be able to enjoy manga in it’s original language. It is one of my goals as well. I have quite a few manga in Japanese, collected from many places, such as YesAsia.com, I have mostly used these as motivation tools – “look at these manga, I will read them!!”

After about one year of studying Japanese, I tried. And surprised myself – I could do it!

Two Reasons Why Reading Manga Is Easy

  • The Sentences are very short, to fit in the little dialogue bubble. So for the most part, someone with even a small amount of grammar knowledge will be able to read the sentences.
  • There are pictures to help with meaning. Even you go through a page without understanding a word, often you can guess what was going on. Or you will later.

    For instance, in Sugar x Life, there was a page where she was watching TV and I thought she was thinking back on the two guys she just met. Well, she was, but it wasn’t til she ran into the boys again that I realised the boys had been on the TV at the time she was thinking about them, and they were singers/idols.

Two Reasons Why It Is Hard To Read Manga (For Me)

Others might not have these problems, but here is what was hard for me when reading manga for the first time.

  • Kanji. While knowing kanji isn’t necessary because – at least in the manga I’m reading so far – they have furigana. So I know how to pronounce words, and sometimes I even learn a new kanji from knowing the word before. But often I think “If only I knew just a basic meaning about the kanji – even just an English key word from Heisig – then I would have an idea of the word’s meaning. Building slowly on my previous knowledge I’d be able to get more of an idea of meaning plus I’d probably be more likely to remember the word/kanji next time I encounter it.
  • Vocab. I simply don’t know enough words. At the moment I am working on vocab building exercises. The more words I know the easier it will be to infer meaning of unknown words, especially with the aid of pictures.

    So get reading some manga now! You may be surprised in how much you understand. It’s a huge confidence booster. And if you give it a go and find you can’t understand, do not worry. Just put the book down, and then try again in a month. You’ll have something fun to aim for!


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Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. jun

    That’s one of my goals, as well, and I have books, and I have heisig, and I learned my kana like a good student and then… I’m lazy. :) I get a few chapters in to my textbook and just kind of stall around “Kore wa biru desu ka? Iie, kore wa uisukii desu.”

  2. solarmom

    I find that I have to combine reading along with tutoring. If I feel frustrated I also stop and just come back to it when I am refreshed! I have been tutoring with a hand full of tutors on http://www.edufire.com. I like that it mixes tutoring, flashcards, language videos, and a forum. In a way the forum is a great way to emerse electronically and get some practice in. Good luck!

  3. GoddessCarlie

    Jum – Just keep at it! I think the start is the hardest part because you are building on almost nothing. Once you get past the first couple of chapters, you start building on knowledge that you already have, and it gets easier, and things start to fall into place. I love it how text books tell us how to order alcohol first, that’s awesome.

    Solarmom – thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. I’m not so big on tutoring, to be honest, I like to hack it alone.

  4. アカン

    Great work on getting started on the manga! It’s actually my next goal as well.

    Actually, I find the speech in video games easier to get through but hey, that’s just me! ;)

  5. phauna

    Do Kanji Odyssey and you will be a vocab machine.

  6. Hassie

    I see you share interesting stuff here, you can earn some additional money, your blog has huge potential,
    for the monetizing method, just search in google – K2 advices how to monetize a website


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