How to Learn Japanese

Learn Japanese with Intensive and Extensive Reading

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Intensive reading is a method in which learners read texts with a high degree of comprehension. By contrast, extensive reading is a method in which learners focus on an amount of reading rather than comprehension. In either way, please proceed with them after learning Japanese grammar up to intermediate level in order to efficiently learn.

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How to Learn Japanese with Intensive and Extensive Reading

Although they are just reading practices, there are some important points to maximize the learning effect. If you tackle them with the proper way, you will be able to improve not only your reading ability, but also writing and speaking as well. To immerse yourself in a great deal of expressions will become the basis for your Japanese. Let’s give this a try.

Intensive Reading

With the intensive reading method, you carefully read texts and try to understand them perfectly. It’s sometimes used to improve the ability of reading texts quickly in the classroom. However, you should focus on improving the ability of understanding texts correctly because, needless to say, the ability of reading texts quickly without a proper understanding is really meaningless. Once you have proper comprehension, you will shift to the extensive reading method. The good news here is that it won’t take a long time to gain a good comprehension if you have grammatical knowledge in place. Please check the process as below.


Step 1 Analysis


If you have the above sentence, you try to analyze it as much as possible, e.g. clarifying all the meanings, the structure, and the parts of speech. If your materials have English translations or expiations, please don’t read them here. Try to do it by yourself and then go to the next step after finishing one paragraph.

Example of Analysis
精読せいどく ほんがくしゅう ほん
(Unknown word)
Topic maker
Learning Japanese
Expressing state-of-being
いわば、 けられない もの
(Unknown word)
Verb + Potential-Negative Form:
Noun Clause:
Expressing state-of-being


Step 2 Understanding

In this step, you try to completely understand what you read by referring to English translations and explanations. If you need more clarification, please refer to your dictionary or grammar guidebook or ask someone who knows Japanese.

Intensive reading is a basis of learning Japanese. That’s, so to speak, something that you cannot avoid.
精読せいどく Noun: intensive reading
いわば Adverb: so to speak, as it were


Step 3 Review

A few days later, you try to read the same texts once again. If you could read them without any doubts, it means that you have completed them. If you have difficulty, please go back to step 2 and try to completely understand them. Then, a few days later, try to complete the same one again.


Recommended Resources

We recommend that you first use materials specialized for reading practice. Although there are a lot of materials on the internet, the following articles seem to be good because of the translations and explanations. Try to complete all of them.

Learning Materials | CosCom Japanese Language School
イケメンと イクメンと どちらがいい?
寿司 - 日本の ファスト・フード
スキーに いこう!
日本の お風呂

Secondly, try to read your favorite book, essay, article or manga in Japanese. Any content will be good, but we suggest that you prepare one in both the Japanese and the English version. That way, you can look up something difficult when necessary. If you don’t have any preference, we have prepared our own materials. Although it includes some jargons, which you can ignore even if it’s intensive reading, you can read manga with English translations and explanations for free.

Extensive Reading

When you start reading your favorite one using the intensive reading method, you also start tackling extensive reading as well. In the extensive reading method, you focus on how many texts you read rather than how much you understand. This immersion will give you a lot of new vocabulary and natural expressions. Once you have got used to extensive reading, this will become one of the most enjoyable times in learning because you can read any content as you like.

Learning Tips

There is no learning process. You need just to read texts as much as you can. However, there are some learning tips. Please keep them in mind.

1. Don’t Be a Perfectionist

In the extensive reading method, you don’t have to completely understand texts. It’s enough if you understand approximately 60% of them. Try not to refer to your dictionary or grammar guidebook except for key vocabulary and read texts as much as you can.

 2. Choose Your Favorite or Familiar Content

Please choose content which is easy to read for you. If you start reading a book and then find that the one is difficult or boring, you can just stop reading and look for another one. Here, the amount makes a difference. Please proceed with ones you like.


Recommended Resources

We recommend that you first read texts with easy vocabulary and then try normal ones. We have listed our recommendations as below. Please pick up ones interesting you.

Japanese with Easy Vocabulary
This is a website providing foreigners or Japanese elementary kids with the most recent news in simple Japanese.
MATCHA – やさしいほん (Free)
This is a web magazine for foreigners planning on visiting Japan and providing articles about Japanese culture and travel information in simple Japanese.
NHK for School (Free)
This is a website providing Japanese elementary kids with materials to learn Japanese. You can watch interesting videos with Japanese scripts.
ふくむすめどうしゅう – Fairy Tales and Short Stories in Japanese (Free)
This is a collection of fairy tales and short stories with audios for Japanese kids. You can choose one of the categories such as 日本の有名な話 (Japanese famous stories), 世界の有名な話 (world famous stories) and 日本の悲しい話 (Japanese sad stories).
にほんごよむよむぶん – Japanese Graded Readers (Charge)
They provide Japanese graded readers (only in the paper version). Their products are specialized for extensive reading, so if you can budget, these are the most recommended ones.
WHITE RABBIT JAPAN – Japanese Graded Readers (Charge)
They provide Japanese graded readers in the Apple Store. If you have apple products, this may be convenient.
マンガワン (Free)
This is a mobile app where you can read manga. For free users, the amount that you can read for a day is limited, but it may be enough for language learners to read manga as a learning tool. You can download the app via Google Play or App Store.
Japanese Expressions: Learn Real Japanese from Manga (Free)
This is a manga list of Wasabi’s recommendations.
マンガ書館しょかんZ (Free)
This is a website that distributes out of print manga. You can read them as a digital book on the internet.
News Media
This is a web media that focuses on the economy.
The Huffington Post 本版ほんばん (Free)
This is a web media that covers politics, business, entertainment, technology, etc. Since some contents are translated from English to Japanese, you can refer to the original texts when you find difficulty reading Japanese.
Lifehacker 本版ほんばん (Free)
This is a web media about life hacks and software. Since some contents are translated from English to Japanese, you can refer to the original texts when you find difficulty reading Japanese.
Medium Japanese Official (Free)
This is a weblog platform based in the US. The link suggests articles written in Japanese. The contents are about business, technology, culture, life hacks, travels, etc.
しゅうかんはてなブログ (Free)
This is a weblog platform and suggests links to popular articles weekly. There is a large range of topics. They just list articles in popularity order.
青空あおぞらぶん (Free)
This is a website that distributes Japanese novels which are already public domain. Since all the books were written at least 50 years ago, you will face some expressions which are not used today. If you’re at upper-intermediate or more, we can recommend you to use this site. We have listed the most famous works in Japan as below. You can check the information at Wikipedia.
なつ 漱石そうせき
ざい おさむ
あくたがわ りゅうすけ
宮沢みやざわ けん
吉川よしかわ えい


In reading practice, the toughest period is when you’re tackling intensive reading. Once you have completed it, you will find it much easier to read Japanese texts. And, starting extensive reading means you are on the way to the advanced level, though reading practice doesn’t have a particular goal. We’re not sure whether you like reading or not, but we hope that you can enjoy reading practice with our recommendations. As the saying goes, “You are what you read,” がんばってください!

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