Mukashi Mukashi. There was a girl who wanted practice Japanese reading. However, there were not many materials she could use unless she knew kanji. So, she started to look for a needle in a haystack. She was losing hope, but then it happened. After a long time, she finally collected some resources that you can use to practice reading in Japanese.
When trying to practice Japanese reading, focus on manageable pieces of text. That way you won’t be bored or discouraged. If you just started with hiragana and katakana, or maybe you know some basic kanji, start reading texts in hiragana. You will get used to the characters and later you can add some more texts with easy kanji sets. Always pick a topic that you are interested in, in order to enjoy reading. Oh, and one more important tip; don’t rush it. You will probably struggle with the characters at first, but don’t worry. Practice makes perfect. Just don’t give up. So, grab a dictionary and let’s move to my favorite readings. Enjoy.
1. Traditional children stories
The children stories are good for practice, because they are short and they are mostly in hiragana. The first website I would like to talk about is http://life.ou.edu/stories/. It has 16 short stories, all in hiragana with English translation and vocabulary.
Another stories-packed website is Hukumusume. The website is in Japanese, but shouldn’t have a problem finding the readings. You will find there old traditional stories, but also “western” stories in Japanese (e.g. Beauty and a Beast). Many readings are with audio so that you can read along. The texts are without furigana, and that is where the audio comes handy.
2. Hiragana Times
This is a magazine written in Japanese with English translations. The Japanese readings contain furigana (aka syllabic characters i.e. first aid if you don’t know kanji). Some articles are very short and the long ones are divided into smaller chunks. It makes the reading easier. So, go to the website and see for yourself.
3. Wasabi fairy tales and short stories
I guess, this website is for real beginners. It contains five stories divided into smaller chunks. Well, I like Wasabi because each chunk offers different versions of audio file. You can choose an audio file either in normal or slow speed (and even with pauses). The texts are short and written in kanji with furigana. English translation as well as vocabulary is included. So, spice up your reading with some wasabi.
Matcha easy is a travel blog for young people. The texts are written using kanji, but contain furigana and even as a beginner you should be able to understand them, or at least guess the meaning. Well, drink some matcha tea and start reading.
5. Japanese reading using your writings
This is a good way of practicing both the writing and reading. The idea is to write down a short articles on a simple topic. Keep these articles and revise them regularly. And what should you write about? Here is a little inspiration.
- Watashi no heya (describe your room; what is in your room, how large it is)
- Watashi no kazoku (write about your family; how many siblings do you have, how do they look like)
- Suki na tokoro / tabemono / eiga (favorite place / food / movie …)
You can also download Practisela’s PowerPoint game (romaji version) to practice reading. In order to open the game correctly, you need to download it to your computer first.
I would like to read your stories or articles. And don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be true. Use your imagination and as always, have fun.