多読 (tadoku) in Japanese is known as extensive reading. You may recognize the first kanji 多 means “a lot, many” and the second kanji means “read”. Extensive reading is Reading quickly and Enjoyably with Adequate comprehension so you Don’t need a dictionary (READ: 1). In order to read enjoyably, there should not be many words you are not familiar with, so you should start reading books written in simple language. By reading many books that are at or slightly below your current reading level, you can gradually build vocabulary and reading fluency, and eventually increase the reading difficulty .
Why not use a dictionary?
The purpose of extensive reading is to read for one’s own pleasure and to become better at reading itself rather than reading to learn the language. If you look up a word each time you encounter an unfamiliar word, your reading experience is disturbed. You are encouraged to read smoothly to practice reading fluency and to deepen your knowledge of language items that are already familiar to you. By doing so, you will be able to develop the ability to guess the meaning of unknown words from the context. You will end up learning a number of new words by reading many basic books without having to think about them.
Benefits of extensive reading
- Most obvious benefit of extensive reading is that it greatly helps your vocabulary growth. There have been many studies about the positive influence of extensive reading on vocabulary acquisition. Vocabulary is not learned by a single exposure. Extensive reading allows multiple encounters with words and phrases in various contexts.
- Extensive reading helps improve overall language competence including writing proficiency (Hafiz & Tudor, 1989), speaking and even listening skills (Cho & Krashen, 1994).
Principles of Extensive Reading
Follow these simple principles (2).
(1) Start from books that you find easy to read
(2) Read without using a dictionary
(3) Skip over parts you cannot understand
(4) Stop reading if the book is not entertaining and pick up another one
- The Extensive Reading Foundation(2011). The Extensive Reading Foundation’s Guide to Extensive Reading
- NPO 多言語多読
How do you find books at your level?
You might think that it is impossible for you to read books in Japanese without a dictionary. Even if you have just started to learn Japanese, there are many materials you can enjoy reading. We have graded readers which are written specifically for those who are learning Japanese as a second language. Graded readers are divided into five or six levels. At each level, the number of vocabulary used and the difficulty of sentence structures are standardized so that readers can find the level at which they can enjoy reading. Children’s books and manga are also great reading materials.
More information on Tadoku
- What Japanese learners say about Tadoku? Read “Voices from tadoku practitioners“.
Cho, K., & Krashen, S. D. (1994). Acquisition of vocabulary from the Sweet Valley Kids series: Adult ESL acquisition. Journal of Reading, 37, 662–667
Day, Richard, R and Bamford, Julian. (1998). Extensive Reading in the Second Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hafiz, F.M and Tudor, I. (1989). Extensive reading and the development of language skills. ELT Journal 43 (1) 4-13