Before going through this guide, I’d highly recommend going through our first Evernote-related guide, “Organizing Your Japanese Studies With Evernote.”
Evernote can make it incredibly simple (or at least, incredibly well organized) to practice reading Japanese. By reading a lot of Japanese, you’ll learn more kanji, vocabulary, and even learn a lot about grammar. It’s one of the best things you can do for your Japanese, especially if you’re at an intermediate or advanced level.
In this guide, I’ll be going over how to use Evernote as a platform to do just that. If you combine this with our other Evernote guides, you’ll surely become a Japanese studying elephant master.
Get The Evernote Add-On
Evernote has various browser add-ons you can get that will make it easy to clip articles and automatically send them to your Evernote. These will differ depending on your browser, but I have faith that in you that you’ll be able to find one (search for “evernote extension” or “evernote add-on” and I’m sure you’ll get it).
Once you have this add-on, you’ll be a single click away from grabbing whatever content you might want to practice off of the web and into your Evernote account. This way you can just grab things as you go along, doing your normal internet things. Then, when you’re ready to study, BOOM, you’ve got yourself plenty of materials to work with.
Speaking of materials…
Finding Japanese To Read
Obviously there’s a lot of Japanese on the web. That’s sort of the problem, actually: There’s too much of it. So, how do you find things that are interesting to you?
Well, the answer to that is actually pretty difficult, considering you are such a unique individual. Here are some suggestions to get you started, though:
- A lot of popular websites have Japanese versions too (Techcrunch, Gizmodo, etc). If you’re following a popular American blog, try seeing if they have a Japanese language side.
- Wikipedia is full of articles in various languages, including Japanese. Is there a subject you’re particularly interested in? Find that topic and take a look at the Japanese side of things.
- Japanese news sites are a little bit dull, but also a huge vat of content. You certainly won’t run out of articles if you go this route.
- There’s lots of weird Japanese blogs out there that are pretty interesting. Just do a search for “best japanese blogs” or “top japanese blogs” and you’re sure to find something good. Blogs are nice because they’re a lot more conversational in their writing.
Spend a little bit of time finding what you like (but not too much time). Clip a few short articles and then come right back. It’s time to study!
Reading Your Articles
After you’ve clipped articles and got them added to Evernote, open up one of them and take a look. If you want, you can format the article so it’s easier to read (depending on what article you clip, sometimes they can turn out a bit ugly). I like to make the text a little bigger, because I’m an old man. Let’s take a look at an example article I clipped for this guide.
Hooray! There it is. What’s first?
When you’re studying an article, the first step is to go through it all and read it, never looking up any of the words as you go along. If you don’t know a word but you think you’ve learned it before, definitely spend some time struggling trying to pull that memory out (because struggling to recall memories is actually the greatest way to learn things), but move along if you’re not getting it.
As you read, though, stop to highlight any words you don’t know. For example:
In red, I marked words I didn’t know as I went through. You can keep imagining through the entire note, though this is just the top portion. When you’ve highlighted the words, it’s time to copy/paste them into another note. We’re going to learn them.
Let’s say these are the words I didn’t know. I’ve copied them to a new note so I can focus on them and them alone. First thing I want to do is break them up into their individual kanji.
I won’t be going into how to learn kanji here, but I imagine you have your own method for kanji learning, whatever that may be. Main thing is that you break up the vocab into individual kanji first, learn those kanji (meaning and reading too, if possible) and then put them back together into the vocab word. Once they’re back together, you can learn the vocab words as well (now that you have the knowledge of their individual kanji backing things up).
I’d recommend putting all this in an Anki deck (or some other SRS) to study so that you can continue to study it as time goes by. You wouldn’t want to lose any of your newly learned information just because you didn’t keep studying it later on!
Going Back Through Again
After you’ve learned all the words and kanji that you didn’t know, it’s time to go back through the article. Re-read it with your new knowledge and see how much better it is (hopefully a lot better!). Even if you don’t know all the grammar while you go through, knowing all the vocab will help you to figure it out in most cases.
This method of study is really bad if you do it once, but really great if you do it every day. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill. It’ll start out small, but once you gain enough snow your momentum will become unstoppable. This is because when you first start out, you have a lot of holes in your vocab and kanji. But, as you do this more and more, you’ll pick up all the ones that show up all the time. You’ll eventually learn the 20% of words that show up 80% of the time (Pareto’s principle, baby!) and getting through articles will be more enjoyable and speedy.
If you enjoyed this guide, be sure to check out the next guide in the Evernote series: “Keeping A Japanese Language Log In Evernote.”