Learning Japanese with light novels

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Learning Japanese takes time and patience! Some people resort to means like watch anime and dramas or read manga to learn Japanese. These 2 subjects have already been addressed on the site, and we recommend that you read them as a complement to this article. In today's article we are going to give you one more tip for you to study Japanese, this time using a light novel.

Light Novel is a Japanese book that follows light manga-style stories, most of which contain romance or a very flashy plot. Many light novels end up becoming anime, attracting people's interest. (you can read more about light novel by clicking here.)

How to get a Light Novel?

One of the biggest difficulties of using a Light Novel to study is having one. If you don't live in Japan, you need to order through some websites. Not even in Anime Events in Brazil it is easy to find Light Novel in Japanese. The best place I know that sells light novels in Brazil is the page yellow manga.

Another alternative is to read online the free webnovels that are made available by some authors, but this has many limitations. It is worth remembering that Light Novel are books written for young adults, so most of them have little furigana and are full of kanji (ideograms). So we make it clear that to study Japanese using light novels it is necessary to have a basic knowledge of the language and a lot of patience.

Choosing and Familiarizing with the Light Novel

A large number of light novels depict stories filled with fiction, magic, or very complex themes. However, the best stories to study Japanese are always things that present something everyday. So prefer works that portray the day to day of certain characters.

Don't look for works like: Monogatari Series, Durarara and Sword Art Online. This is because they have a topic far removed from everyday things and, in addition, they have complex language.

We also recommend that you choose Light Novels that are short, or that are already complete. It will take you a long time to read and study them, and you may feel uncomfortable waiting 6 months for a new volume to come out. You may also end up rushing to finish the story fast, messing up your study results.

There are a plethora of Light Novels to choose from, try to choose something that suits you. Maybe choosing a work that you've already watched the anime, can make it easier to understand the story and lines of the book.


Studying light novels

A light novel chapter is usually around 5000 to 7000 words. A complete volume (book) is usually 40,000 words, and is usually divided into 5 chapters of around 200 pages.

Light novels have simple and short dialogues, they do not usually have very long dialogues and there are also few exceptions in light novels that use complex lines.

Most light novels use more than hiragana and katakana, kanji make up about 30% of a light novel. And about 5% of these kanjis have furigana. Light novels are not like in the manga, where the “shounen” genre always has furigana. But even so, reading is quite simple.

When reading a light novel, aim to have fun, not learn. You should learn Japanese naturally and automatically, reading light novels will help you to do that.

Below are some tips for you to study correctly:

Don't read what you don't know. – If you started a Light Novel, and you are all the time chasing meanings in the dictionary. We recommend choosing another Light Novel at your level. You will only delay your learning, and you will not be able to memorize anything.

Read again. – If you come across a word or phrase that you know, read it again. The more you repeat, the harder it will be to forget, and the faster your reading will be.

Make reading short and fun. – You will only benefit from reading the Light Novel if you find it fun. Many have difficulty or laziness to read, for people like that, it is recommended to read a little so as not to get boring or not to strain the mind.

Copy Phrases. – If you use anki or another memorization tool, copy the phrases and meanings you find interesting to the app. Also use a notebook to write the sentences if you intend to practice writing.

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Problems when studying using Light Novel

You can use Light Novel to improve your Japanese learning, but we do not recommend that you use these books as your main tool for studying the language. Here's why studying Light Novel can be dangerous for your learning if you do it the wrong way:

  • The Light Novel is full of slang and abbreviations. Authors also write however they like, using kanji in the wrong or unnecessary places. Some even swallow particles, and completely flout the rules of Japanese. So be careful when using it as a study source;
  • A Japanese student should focus on maintaining dialogue, listening to audio, and learning simple phrases. Using book reading can become a very slow and arduous process. So if you want to get to fluency fast, Light Novel is not the best option;
  • Already mentioned in the article, a light novel has many new and unknown kanji. It is recommended that you have at least an N4 to understand the book's 40%. It took some students about half a year to understand one volume of a light novel;

What do I do to study Light Novel?

Despite the difficulties, do not be discouraged. I didn't find it that difficult to study a Light Novel. I've already done it here on the site using a snippet from the Web Novel by Re:Zero.

Using the web novel, I selected and copied the passage I wanted to study, I separated all the phrases and sentences leaving a large space between them. In this space I put the reading in romaji or hiragana.

I select the sentence word by word and look up its meaning using several online dictionaries like Jisho, Google. Also I search the word on Google images to get a better understanding. Then I put in all the meanings of the words, and try to understand the meaning of the sentence.

In addition to books, I use this same tactic with music. To better understand what I did, read the article by clicking here.

Hope these tips help you Japanese students!

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