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『The Art of Deciphering』

September 12, 2009

preview3Do you have trouble reading your Japanese textbook? Don’t know how and where to start reading long sentences because there are no breaks in between? In this first issue of Study Tips we’ll go over how to read your textbook breaking down sentences, making you a pro at reading Japanese text!

I used to get frustrated when reading Japanese text because unlike let’s say English, there are no spaces between words making it hard to tell where a certain word ends and the next begins. On top of that, it sometimes seems that the sentences found in textbooks are written like there’s no end to it just because. It’s these long sentences that often give me a hard time to the point that I forgot what the beginning was about when I read to the end. I’d like to show you how I often go about reading text in my textbook breaking down sentences in small parts making them easier to read.


The Material: 1. orange marker   2. yellow marker   3. mechanical pencil

I choose to use these for they all have a special purpose that I find necessary. Let’s see how it works below!

tip1bStep 1

Use the orange marker to mark all new words in the text, I also recommend marking any words that you feel needs special attention or words that just don’t stick. This way you instantly see what words you are studying and its use in context. I choose orange over yellow for words since they are shorter in lenght than if I would mark a line of grammar. You don’t want lines of ‘screaming’ orange since that can be too distracting.

Step 2

Use the yellow marker the same as the orange marker but for new grammar bits and particles you think need marking.

Step 3

Use the mechanical pen (any pencil will do, duh) to draw a ‘hook’ line (shown in step 3 above) marking and connecting parts of a sentence that belong together. This way you break down a long sentence in smaller parts thus making in easier to ‘digest’. Let’s practise a sentence so you’ll understand what I mean.

example sentence: 話すことがいっぱいで何から話したらいいのか困ります。」

The first part is easy since it’s divided by a comma: 話すことがいっぱいで (I have a lot to tell). Now the second part  are actually 2 mini sentences, if you start reading the first part: 何から話したらいいのか (Where should I start to tell

particle). And then the last part: 困ります (I’m troubled). So your marked sentence would look like this: 話すことがいっぱいで[何から話したらいいのか] 困りますBy marking the middle part you’ve chopped the sentence in three mini-sentences making it easier to understand. Below is a sample text as I’ve marked in my textbook.

Happy reading, ganbatte!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2009 11:01 am

    Brilliant post! Really helpful and it’s really nicely put together. I try to do this method mentally, but this looks like a much better way to do it.

  2. CherryTango permalink
    June 26, 2010 4:37 pm

    hmm definately going to use this method from now on…I always grab whatever i have on hand and when it comes to review nothing i’ve highlighted/underlined is in a particular catagory. Makes me miss things.

    Thanks =D

    • June 26, 2010 5:00 pm

      Hey CherryTango, thanks for visiting! Hope it was helpful for you. Just remember to do what works best for you personally. Good luck with your Japanese!

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