I’ve been in Japan for about three weeks now. The jetlag has gone away and I am coming to my senses more. But I’ve noticed one strange thing. Up until a few days, I had not bought reading material. Reading is part of my immersion path (I don’t want to say strategy-because that sounds a little too calculated). I go to a manga cafe almost every day and I have the opportunity to check out magazines and manga every day and I do. There are a few bookstores close by and I’ve taken the opportunity to go browsing there a few times. But I’ve only taken one item home.
I’m not worried. First of all, the fact that I can stroll into a Japanese bookstore, browse, and realize that I am not interested in anything is a big victory. I know what each section is, I can skim the titles, the table of contents, etc. One of the things that I rediscovered through AJATT is that reading doesn’t have to look pretty. In “Why the Way We Read Sucks” series AJATT really explores how to really get the most out of reading by avoiding the stifling obligation patterns we learn at school. For me, reading is fun but what makes it more fun is also about making choices, rejecting, and jumping around the text. Browsing is a powerful reading activity.
Browsing is also a powerful review though it may not feel lik it. Browsing is a reminder that the most important review is in real-life, in navigating, hunting, and just plain old having fun. There is a time and place for hard work and effort in real life but fun can work too. There is a time to be the worker ant and soldier on for the colony. But there should be time to be like the hummingbird, flitting around and looking for nectar. There is a time for “force” and “study” but the fun stuff reinforces it and gives it life, too.
I finally found a book at the local Numazu bookstore. It is a visual guide to how to use an i-Pad mini. Recently, I’ve been looking for books with a lot of pictures. Besides the pictures, the nice thing about the iPad book is that I kind of know how to use an iPad already and I am really interested in learning how to use new apps. I already have the inner motivation to use the knowledge in the book. I already know a lot of vocabulary but what really helps to “read” this book is my slowly growing knowledge of kanji. I don’t look up words, write down key sentences, etc. I am enjoying what I am reading and that enjoyment is sealing the deal on whatever worker ant work I’ve pushed through.
Currently, I am in a manga cafe in Mishima, a quick train ride away from Numazu, where I usually go to the same chain store. But it was a little bit of adventure to find this place, the books and lighting are different. I have work in English to do, but with frequent breaks of intentional Japanese study and just “goofing off.” Currently, I am browsing and looking at book about the pop culture (video games, pop stars, and manga) of Japan in the 80’s.
Use your hard power. Use your soft power. Fly like a bee and sting like a butterfly and vice versa. May the non-force be with you.
I used to do the same when learning Chinese. Another fun challenge is to go to the translated literature section of a bookstore, and see if you can figure out what the original work is by just reading the translated title. You'll be amazed at how many you can work out. Most of the books will be world classics, so you're working from a narrow range of possibilities, which leverages your understanding. A book with a three word title, middle word 'and', last word 'peace'? Must be War and Peace! That's how I was first introduced to the Chinese characters for war.
OK. I confess. I still do this. Even if the challenge has diminished, it's still interesting to see what's on the shelves, and it's fun to pick up classics and see how they feel in another language.
Thanks for the tip. Even if you are an advanced learner it seems really important to keep playing games that reinforce what you are learning.