12 In Japanese learning journey (:

Double-reading Method for language learning

Finished reading a Japanese novel and did my double reading method for the whole book!! This is such a huge personal milestone because it’s been a long time (years!) since I last finished reading a Japanese novel from cover to cover. Thanks very much to Demon Slayer, which rekindled my love for Japanese-language content and the language 🙂

Very motivated to read in Japanese and yay finally finished the first volume of the novelisation of the Demon Slayer manga! I was initially very confused at the various novels available, so I went to google the order of the Demon Slayer novels (鬼滅の刃 小説 読む順番). Putting it down here, in case anyone is interested.

First, there’s a difference between novelisation of the manga and novels that are complementary to the manga series.

Demon Slayer Novelisation books (in order)

  • 鬼滅の刃 漫画ノベライズ 第一弾:炭治郎と禰豆子、運命のはじまり編 : covers manga volumes 1-4 and covers the story from Tanjiro piggy-backing Nezuko to the trio making their way to the spider mountain
  • 鬼滅の刃 漫画ノベライズ 第二弾:きょうだいの絆と鬼殺隊編: covers manga volumes 4-7, and ends at the same part as the anime (i.e. getting the mission to go on the Mugen train)
  • 滅の刃 漫画ノベライズ 無限列車編: covers the content in the movie of the same title

There are 23 volumes in the manga and the novelisation only covers until Vol. 7 for now. Noooooo. I cannot believe I need to wait so long to find out what happens next! ): I’m guessing that they are going to release more novelisation when the second season of the anime comes out. WHENNN.

Demon Slayer Novels

I believe that the following books cover side-stories that are meant to be complementary to the manga and apparently it’s only in novel form (and not manga). According to a Japanese site, it’s recommended to be read in the following order:

  • 鬼滅の刃 しあわせの花: After manga volume 8
  • 鬼滅の刃 片羽の蝶: After manga volume 17
  • 鬼滅の刃 風の道しるべ: After manga volume 21

NOOOOOO. I bought しあわせの花 for now. But what. I hope I can enjoy the stories without reading the manga ): Now I cannot decide if I should get the other two books first. Maybe let me finish the novelisations first before I decide. The thing about all these Japanese anime-related books is that they go out of print sometimes. (sigh I am missing a few Psycho Pass novels!!)

For those who are keen, the Demon Slayer novelisations are pegged at upper elementary – middle school level (yes, they actually indicate at the back of the books). These books are more of YA fiction and hence get more furigana for the kanji 🙂 A good resource for those who are trying Japanese novels for the first time!

Double Reading Method

Oops, got carried away talking about Demon Slayer. I’ve been using my double reading method for foreign language books for years and it works very well for me. I’ve probably mentioned it throughout the years, calling it different names (like intensive reading), but these days I just refer to it as my “double reading method”. I don’t know if there’s a proper term (?) for it coined by some expert already and I’m sure out there, there are people doing something similar and calling it by another name.

How does it work?

Basically, I do two readings of the text. The first reading is meant to absorb as much as I could without looking up any of the words, relying on context instead to figure out what’s going on. At this point, I highlight unfamiliar words. The second reading is meant to get a deeper understanding of the passage, where I will search up the unfamiliar words on the dictionary and writing them in my notebook (word + meaning + example sentence).

For beginner readers

For those that are new to reading (in a foreign language), it’s likely that there are many unfamiliar words. So I would suggest to do the first reading for a paragraph, and then go back to do the second reading before proceeding on. This means that the first reading is about a para ahead of the second reading.

For intermediate readers

As you get better at reading, it’s likely that you would want to (and be able) to read further ahead and yet somewhat understand the story. At this stage, I would do the first reading for 1-2pages, then go back to do the second reading.

For advanced readers

When you are at the stage where you can enjoy long texts (novels) comfortably and perhaps only have 3-5 unfamiliar words per page, I would do 3-5 pages for the first reading and then move on.

What is the rationale?

Right from the beginning, I think it’s important that we learn (to try) to parse long sentences without relying on the dictionary. It helps to train our reading skills and to learn to figure out the meaning from contextual cues. Reading at least a para will also give you a sense of where the story/article is going, instead of stopping at every individual word when you have not even reached the end of the sentence. The second reading is meant to get a fuller understanding of the text and to learn new words along the way.

Personally I prefer to keep the first reading only a couple of pages ahead of the second reading for a couple of reasons. First, if I keep on reading too far ahead, I’ll never catch up with the second reading and it somehow feels more exhausting to do it. Second, it’s good to do the second reading when the para is still fresh in my mind.

I tweak this method as I progress in my reading skills. At first, the second reading would be the time when I read more carefully and thoroughly. But these days, as I’m pretty proficient in reading in Korean / Japanese, the first reading is now the time where I read more carefully and I only pick out certain parts to re-read in the second reading. Most of the time, I just search up words in the second reading because I still remember what the sentence/para is about.

For Korean, my first and second readings are about 4 pages apart these days, and for the Demon Slayer, it’s two pages apart. I find that this works well for me because for Japanese, there’s a tendency to keep on reading as I can guess the meaning of the kanji (cos I speak Chinese too), so it takes discipline to stop and look up the reading / exact meaning of the kanji.

Do you always do the double reading method?

Nope. I did it more often when I was in the intermediate stage. Technically, I can read both Korean and Japanese novels now without searching up too much words. So there are times that I just do one reading and only search up words in cases where not knowing the word would impede my understanding of the passage / novel.

For Korean non-fiction texts (like news articles), I usually don’t even do notetaking these days. I just read them and I would look up difficult words using the built-in dictionary in the Apple OS and just move on.

“It sounds tiring”

Over the years, I have received some comments that my double reading method sounds too intensive/tiring and not enjoyable at all. To that, my response is that everyone is different and I don’t think that in language learning (or anything else), there is a one-size-fits-all method. Despite how sometimes I sound overly opinionated about language learning methods, I am just sharing my two cents and what worked for me, instead of trying to promote “THE method to do it”. If there’s something else you are doing and works for you, it’s great. If not, then perhaps you can try other methods and see if they work better.

(and yes, I find a lot of joy in doing my double reading method hahaha)

Thank you, if you have reached this point of the blog post. 🙂 Curious about your reading methods, do share them with me!

Till the next post.

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  • Reply
    Heather Berry
    20 January, 2021 at 2:27 AM

    Thank you for this. I am having a hard time grasping the Korean Language. I’m 29 and trying to learn a second language. I did get 2 to 3 Korean novels to start reading. I have never tried this approach. I will try this year.

    • Reply
      20 January, 2021 at 2:38 PM

      Thanks for reading! 🙂 Try using a variety of resources. Sometimes an unsuitable (or clearly bad) book/resource is the problem! have fun reading in Korean!

  • Reply
    20 January, 2021 at 8:23 AM

    Interesting that our method sound similar!!! But for me I actually set a timer and check how many pages I can read within 25mins. I read and just highlight the unfamiliar words. I look for the meaning after the time is up. I also reread the the sentences where the unfamiliar words were in to check if I understood them correctly.

    • Reply
      20 January, 2021 at 2:39 PM

      oooh this is interesting! Would be a good way to see if reading speed has increased over time.

  • Reply
    20 January, 2021 at 12:56 PM

    I’ll give it a try!! I’m used to re-read and also like to understand everything so I feel like this might work for me 🙂
    I’m trying to read my first novel in German but I got overwhelmed by the amount of words I didn’t understand (cause I got this weird idea that I should read without looking for words on a dictionary by now but that’s just impossible even in my native language lol)
    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Reply
      20 January, 2021 at 2:40 PM

      Hello! Thanks for reading 🙂 It’s hard to keep looking up words at the start, but that’s how we learn and progress, especially when it comes to learning languages as an adult. All the best with German!

  • Reply
    Keisha Brown
    20 January, 2021 at 3:59 PM

    Thanks for making a post going into this! I definitely wanna try it after I refresh some basic Japanese. I was near reading level when I was studying daily and luckily it’s coming back easy. I still have ストロベリーナイト and 白夜行 waiting along with a couple others. And by a couple, I of course mean 7 plus two readers. 😂

    • Reply
      22 January, 2021 at 7:58 AM

      Thanks for reading!! 🙂 ストロベリーナイト and 白夜行 are the best hehe. and yay to more books 😀

  • Reply
    20 January, 2021 at 7:50 PM

    Thanks for sharing your method! I’d like to try this. I attempted reading a Japanese manga before but kept looking up words I didn’t know immediately (there were a lot) and found it quite halting, overwhelming, and not enjoyable. You’re totally right, it’s best to just try to read, then pick out and look up words you don’t know, and then I’d read everything again (hopefully it’d be smoother then and I’d be able to understand most of it). Small chunks like paragraphs sound good, at least at my stage lol. Anyway thanks again for posting!

    • Reply
      22 January, 2021 at 7:59 AM

      Hi Anna! Yeah it’s tough to keep halting and pausing at every other word, so it’s good to try to read at least a couple of sentences or a para first. Enjoy reading!

  • Reply
    23 January, 2021 at 8:51 AM

    I guess I do a sort of “triple reading” haha. I read it once to see how much I can understand. Then I go read through with a highlighter and mark all the words I don’t know. After writing all the words, definitions, and example sentences in a notebook, I reread it a third time with the new vocab fresh in mind and it’s a much smoother experience than the first time. I used to write the definitions directly in the book next to each word but I switched to a separate notebook because I didn’t want to handicap my reading with hints all over the page.

    • Reply
      24 January, 2021 at 7:34 AM

      wow that’s very detailed! 🙂 On writing in books, I am actually the opposite. I used to write in a separate notebook (for Korean) but now I just write inside the book. For Japanese, I still write in a separate notebook cos there are more words I don’t know and there isn’t even space within the page for me to write hahaha.

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