I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working on a secret project behind the scenes. Well, this is it!
If you couldn’t guess from my avatar picture, Narutaru is one of my favorite manga. To be precise, it’s my second favorite. First place goes to Oyasumi Punpun (which is next in line for blogging if this series of posts succeeds). I’ve been promising myself ever since I started this blog that I would write about Narutaru. And I always keep my promises (eventually).
For the past year, I’ve also been studying Japanese. So I figured I would combine these two pursuits. I would blog about Narutaru while reading the original Japanese version.
The best way to learn a language, they say, is by immersion. Unfortunately, I have various commitments and cannot pack up everything and move to Japan. But I can still hope to gain some of the benefits of immersion by publicly humiliating myself with my illiteracy.
In all seriousness, the best way to learn a language is to use it a lot, both reading, writing, listening and speaking. That’s how I learned Spanish at least. I read a lot of books. I’m hoping the same thing will work with Japanese. It’s quite likely not as efficient as using a textbook, memorizing vocabulary words, etc., but that’s boring and I have no motivation. Reading manga is something I can convince myself to do.
A bit about my background: I took a year of Japanese in undergrad before I had the misfortune to graduate. Should have decided to do it earlier. After that I did no Japanese for a few years, until last year I decided to pick it up again. Since then, I went through the Remembering the Kanji book (this was always the hardest part for me: didn’t help that three quarters of my class were people who already knew Chinese and took the class because it would be easy, they made me feel like an idiot). I’ve also been reading manga, and have gone through around twenty volumes at this point.
In case you’d like to try to learn this way yourself, here’s my procedure for this series:
- Read a page (or a few pages if there isn’t much text).
- Look up the words I don’t know.
- Add them to my google spreadsheet, organized by volume, with Kanji compounds, their readings, and their English meaning.
- Practice writing any Kanji I don’t know.
- If I don’t understand something gramatically, try to figure it out. Don’t spend more than a couple minutes on this.
- Read the English translation for the section I read. Skip this if I’m highly confident.
- Finish a chapter.
- Review the new words I learned in that chapter. Focus the most on words that I’ve seen before or that include Kanji I’m already familiar with (I went through the Remembering the Kanji book, with declining effectiveness in the latter half, so there are many Kanji I recognize but don’t know the reading or context for). Gloss over obscure or technical terms.
- Reread the chapter. This time take notes for a blog post.
- Write the blog post.
To give you an idea of my lack of a vocabulary, for the first chapter of Narutaru (56 pages) I added 45 words to the spreadsheet. About a third of these were semi-technical terms related to airplanes. The list would have been at least twice as long a year ago, so I’m slowly but surely making progress.
The plan is to hopefully put a post in this series out once every other week or so. It’ll be a long term project. You can either follow along as you read the manga or read after the fact. Enjoy!