My Tadoku Thought Process

I’ve had a few people ask me here recently how I approach reading things I don’t know.

If you want to go the way of Extensive reading (tadoku) thought, you’d simply skip it if context doesn’t help you out.

For me, I do a little bit more effort.

So the following steps is what I do mostly

  1. Can I pronounce it?
  2. Likely pronunciations?
  3. Do I know the meaning?
  4. Can I get a rough idea of the meaning?
  5. skip it

That’s it, pretty simple. It actually goes by really fast. Considering that you should be reading within at least an 85% understanding rate, the number of things that you don’t know shouldn’t get in your way.

So what if you’re a beginner? Most children’s books don’t have kanji, or the kanji has furigana, however occasionally you’ll pop up with one that doesn’t.

Here would be an example of the beginning to read stage.

むかし、あるところに、おじいさんが一人で すんでいました。

Its uncommon, but randomly things are put into kanji in the most basic of children’s books. In this case, I would read all the kana, and though I hate to show roman characters, I will for the sake of clarity.

mukashi, aurutokoroni, ojiisanga hitoride sundeimashita.

1) Say you didn’t know that 一人 did not have the sound ひとり, I would do as I explained above.

2) Take a stab? いち?じん?If that didn’t cause any lights to go off, then

3) The meaning? One Person. So when reading, I would say aloud or in my head (I tend to actually read outloud mostly)

むかし、あるところに、おじいさんがOne Personで すんでいました。

mukashi, aurutokoroni, ojiisanga one person de sundeimashita.

4) Okay, so say even then, no idea what the meaning may be. Maybe you only knew what the kanji 一 was but not 人。

むかし、あるところに、おじいさんがone ~~で すんでいました。

mukashi, aurutokoroni, ojiisanga one ~~ de sundeimashita.

5) Or just all together skip the unknown and worry none about it,

むかし、あるところに、おじいさんが~~~~で すんでいました。

mukashi, aurutokoroni, ojiisanga ~~~~ de sundeimashita.

…and yeah, that’s probably the only time you’ll see me do roman characters….

This example is something really basic, but it applies to any level that I’m reading. I really don’t even spend a lot of time on it, as it may seem in the example.

Why do I read aloud?

I find that for me, who spent roughly 3 years in deep listening immersion with no subs, know some things purely by sound. I did not have the opportunity to study extensively so I decided to work on kanji through RTK during that time, and went sorta slow. Anyhow, because of that, I have only recently began studying sounds associated to kanji within the last year. Many times I find myself in the position when I’m studying of realizing I already know the word by listening alone.

Reading aloud helps trigger that effect and I’ll take all the なるほど moments I can get!

How am I using Tadoku?

Tadoku to me isn’t just a contest, but something I do whenever possible. I use the Tadoku contest as a time of measurements.

I do not normally record what I read, and I don’t usually compare myself. Tadoku helps let me see how far I’ve come since the last one, and I get to have fun trying to ‘beat’ others into a new level of reading. Pushing in these little sprints actually improves my speed at reading without me burning out. I do not attempt to specifically read faster on non tadoku months, but more pleasurably/slowly.

Differences affecting my reading:

I have noticed one thing has effected my speed of reading

  • word familiarity

I have been pushing myself to know how to read kanji and vocabulary (which has created the lack of posts on this site, sorry!). The more familiar I have become with a word, the more I’ve noticed that I’m able to read it faster.

You cannot have one without the other. Reading a word has had a larger impact than a random SRS review.

Even if you’re not trying to memorize things, seeing the same sentences will have the same effect, and you glaze over the review it seems. Reading things on the fly in random ways in random sentences has the power of an SRS x 5! Its why a lot of people after a certain point drop SRS’s vocabulary all together and use reading as the natural way to encourage vocabulary reinforcement.

8 Responses to “My Tadoku Thought Process”
  1. Tadoku for me is a great tool for motivation!
    It’s weird, but after a while you get a feeling of which words you can skip and which ones you should look in the dictionary, and also wether add it to the SRS or not.
    In the beggining you want to look everything in the dictionary, but that gives you a feel of sluggish progress.
    I like words that appear frequently and words that seem important to the development of the story. Also, I tend to pay more attention if it seems to be some kind of joke.

    • mikotoneko says:

      Traditionally speaking the Extensive Reading method created or really laid down I should say by Kunihide Sakai says absolutely no dictionary looking up. So when I’m not mining for learning purposes I stick to the guns of Tadoku and never use the dictionary.
      I’m glad that you’re loving Tadoku and comedy too! Comedy is a great genre, one of my favorites!

  2. Cassandra says:

    Thanks for sharing your process! I’m trying to participate in Todoku but find myself very frustrated with it. I completed RTK awhile back but got buried in reviews and quit studying it. Now I’m going through RTK slower to help retain it. But I don’t know readings very well. I’m trying to learn vocab via the Core6k deck and that’s slow going. I don’t know why I can’t get everything to mesh. When I see a kanji on its own, I can usually figure out the meaning. Put it together with other kanji in a word and I can take a stab at a meaning but will have no idea how to read it aloud. Because of RTK, I hate reading things in straight kana. So I’m left attempting reading material way over my head in my ability to read it aloud and it’s overwhelming to try to figure out the meanings of all the vocab I don’t know. lol.

    I’m making progress in my studies but it feels like I’m getting better in pieces and those pieces aren’t melding together to create an ability to read Japanese. grrrr. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong or if it’s just a matter of time until something clicks.

    • mikotoneko says:

      I’m sorry that you’re beginning to feel frustrated with it. I’d recommend getting some books that have lots of furigana in it, such as middle school type books. If you’re unable to get books like that, children’s books are all over the net for free. I know that you’re eager to jump into kanji reading, and I agree its a lot of fun, but tadoku really is meant to be read within your understanding rate overall. Manga might be a good inbetween since you can gleen a lot from the pictures and many manga are full of furigana, like Yatsubato. Good Luck and I really hope to hear how it goes for you! I found that at first it did seem like I was just memorizing all sorts of random things, but they will begin to come together for you, just gotta keep up with it!

  3. I’m so glad I found your blog! I like how simple, yet beneficial, your process is. I’m participating Tadoku for the time and I’m finding doing extensive reading a bit challenging. In the beginning I felt a compulsive need to look up every unfamiliar words or kanji I come across while I’m reading. However, this made reading much more tedious than it should be. I’ve found that having an audio that goes along with the text I’m reading really helpful. That way I don’t have to make a guessing game of how a particular words sounds like and really look at the kanji for context.

    • mikotoneko says:

      I love being able to find audio with what I’m reading! For one its a lot faster than me, but also because as you said, there is no guess that kanji sound! But the drawback for this is sometimes going a little slower helps trigger more connections. I think both are great ways! I’m glad that you’re enjoying and participating in Tadoku and I’d love to hear more about how things go for you as you progress!

  4. Delenir says:

    ローマ字駄目!Hmm it seems our reading methods are pretty similar!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] eventually stumbled upon a really helpful post by Mikoto who shares her Tadoku thought process, which is essentially similar to using context clues only for Japanese. This completely helped. I […]

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  • Read More or Die! 2011

    _2011 End Results_
    Total read for Tadoku:
    __433.3 pages!__
    Placement: 115/188
    October 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 97/120
    End Tally: 59.2
    July 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 86/142
    End Tally: 195.6
    April 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 62/106
    End Tally: 154.5
    January 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 84/99
    End Tally: 24
    August 2010 Contest:
    Placement: 20/41
    End Tally: 160

  • Read Or Die 2013

    Goal: 600
    Total: 906.26
    blew my goal outta the water!

    March 2-Week:
    Goal: 125

    Goal: 250
    Total: 314

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