Extensive reading is known as 多読, or tadoku in Japanese. To try it, start with very easy books (ones with no more than two or three unknown words per page), and follow these principles:
1. Don’t look up words in the dictionary while reading.
2. Skip over parts you don’t understand.
3. If you aren’t enjoying one book, toss it aside and get another.
I was just minding my business, trying to URL shuffle my way to Japanese fluency when I came across an article in English. (Eek! it hurts the preciouss!) The above directions from Liana’s Extensive Reading Journal clearly states in one place what my approach to reading Japanese has been in the last few months. There is debate as to whether extensive reading works; however, it works for me as far as what I strive for–momentum.
It’s bad style to ask readers rhetorical questions. Here I go. The method seems to be targeted for people learning a new language why not let it work for any skill? (Read the “baby” books on your field, read everything, go wild.) The website focuses on reading books at your current level but why not also apply it to high interest books that are beyond your level of understanding? (Skim and read what is in within reach, glance at what isn’t yet. That glance may bring you one step closer to understanding).
Pile up the books in any skill that you want and get books of all different levels on it. Why?
- You get a road-map for the field. You get a road-map for the books and ideas you want to pursue further.
- By adding speed you temporarily silence the perfectionist, procrastinating voice.
- Mastery is fun.
- You get your bang for the buck (or library) card. Books in motion stay in motion, in your mind and in your life.
I would also like to add crack reading. You should always put some CRACK (Crevice Reading Acquires Cool Knowledge) in your bag. (A quick little book in your desired field. Pick the most irreverent and fun little volume. ) When you can’t “afford” it (time, attention, etc), just pull it out and get the adulterated quick fix. You don’t have to read it from cover to cover:
- read the table of contents and groove out on the titles or helpful information
- read the front and back cover (again!)
- look at the pretty pictures and diagrams (what your book doesn’t have pictures! get some!)
- whatever you do, have fun. Isn’t that what CRACK is for?
P.S: It turns out there is a Read or Die Extensive Reading challenge going on. Read more about it here.