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Itazuraneko recommends reading Yotsubato with a specific reading pack. Is that still a good way to get started with reading?

October 27, 2022 — Tatsumoto Ren

Yotsubato is often recommended as a "beginner manga".

Even though Yotsubato is quite simple compared to many other mangas, it contains lots of colloquial speech, slang, slurred speech, sentence endings and grammar that drive beginners crazy. Vocabulary in the manga is no doubt very simple, and there aren't that many words, but it's not the vocabulary that trips people up.

I have seen countless questions like, "What does this line in Yotsubato mean?" When reading the manga, people get so confused, they can't find unknown phrases anywhere in a grammar book or in a dictionary, so the only thing left for them is to beg other learners for explanations on a forum. That's not what a beginner material should do to you.

Second, Itazuraneko recommends that you read Yotsubato very early on, before you have had a chance to get used to the sounds of Japanese. There's no audio, you don't know how Japanese people pronounce what you're reading. Reading anything without accompanying audio at this stage is a recipe for failure and is going to negatively affect your listening ability.

As a result you're wasting hours trying to read a single page, and you're reading with a thick foreign accent in your head.

From day one listen a lot, listen all the time. Immerse both passively and actively in voiced Japanese media to train your ears. Complete the first two subdecks from Ankidrone Starter Pack, they contain natural, correct, easy to understand sentences with clear native audio. Before starting reading manga, watch lots of anime with Japanese subtitles. Reading along audio is easier and should serve as training wheels to prepare you for reading without audio. The general rule of thumb is to improve your comprehension using anime before moving to manga.

After you've done that, you can go back and read Yotsubato if you want. Although I personally would choose some other manga, I don't find Yotsubato particularly interesting.

You also need to set up OCR to make it easy to select text and look up unknown words in manga.

Tags: faq