Ok, so I’ve been immersing myself in spoken Japanese for quite some time now. And obviously that greatly improved my Japanese. But whenever I saw a page of written Japanese, my brain turned on panic mode. I knew that if I wanted to get good at Japanese I needed to start reading. That’s where the Amazon Kindle comes into play. So, in this post, I will show you why you need an Amazon Kindle to learn Japanese.
Reading Japanese Books
The thing is, I had tried reading books in Japanese before. One day after school, I went to the closest book shop, picked up some random book and started reading. I finished the first page and thought: “That was easy.” Then I looked around and people were looking at me like “Wow this foreigner can read books in Japanese. I wonder if he also knows how to use chopsticks…”
Reassured by weird strangers, I bought the book, headed straight home and immediately continued reading. But when I turned over to the second page, I realised that this foreigner can’t actually read books in Japanese because he can’t about 30% of the kanji characters.
So, about every 20 seconds, I had to take my phone out of my pocket and open the google translator to look up a kanji I couldn’t read. That’s not what I had imagined reading Japanese books would be like.
On top of that, the characters were way too small to read and the book had like a stupid cover that made holding quite annoying.
In the end, I finished the book on the third paged and would never open it up again.
Why the Amazon Kindle Is Great for Japanese
Somehow I still felt like I wanted to read Japanese books. I just didn’t like looking things up on my phone. Also, I don’t want to read stuff on a computer screen because that makes my eyes feel tired.
So, I decided to give Jeff Bezos my money and buy an Amazon Kindle. The main reason was that it would let me look up words simply by pressing my finger on it.
If there’s a kanji you can’t read, don’t worry. With the kindle, you’re a kanji master. You wouldn’t even need to know any Japanese, just look up every word and you’re good to go.
The Amazon Kindle to Study Japanese
The main reason why I wanted to read Japanese books was that I wanted to learn new vocabulary. And that’s where another feature of the Amazon Kindle comes in handy.
The Kindle lets you highlight words, sentences or even entire pages. If you want you can also add some notes to those or share them on Twitter if you’re into that. But you can also access your highlighted sentences from your PC. And you could then (theoretically) put those sentences into an Anki deck. The only problem: I just highlighted a bunch of sentences and never studied any actual vocabulary.
Why You Need a Kindle to Learn Japanese
But even if you’re not into creating flashcards and actually studying anything, you need an amazon kindle. That’s because it allows you to access thousands of Japanese books wherever you are with a device that is thinner than an actual book.
Also, buying a book has never been so easy. Just press a button and you have made Jeff Bezos 0.000000001% richer. (Btw if you want to make me 0.1 % richer use this amazon affiliate link to buy something)
Advantages of the Amazon Kindle for Japanese
- You can look up words and Kanji easily
- Lets you carry thousands of books in one device
- Access to Japanese books from anywhere on the planet
- It can get wet (depends on the model)
- You can also read non-amazon ebooks on the kindle (here’s a guide)
- People on the train won’t notice if you’re reading something weird
Disadvantages of the Kindle
- You’re giving Amazon your data
- You’re more or less locked into the Amazon eco-system (altough you can get around this)
Which Kindle Should I Buy?
If you’re main goal is to use your Amazon Kindle to learn Japanese then I guess the basic Kindle will do. I personally chose the Kindle Paperwhite without cellular because for me it seemed to be the best option considering price and performance.
But choose for yourself.
Here’s an overview of the different Kindle modles.
Did the Kindle Improve My Japanese?
Ok, so now comes maybe the most important part of this post. Did the Amazon Kindle actually help me learn Japanese?
The short answer is yes. I was able to follow the story in the books I read and understood maybe like 80% to 90% of the words. However, I can’t really give you a number of how many words I acquired by reading Japanese books.
What I can say is that my reading speed improved. I’m still pretty slow. Now I just don’t feel like an illiterate morone anymore. Also, my fear of Japanese texts has disappeared and I don’t get that anxiety anymore when I open a Japanese web page.
But will the Kindle also improve your Japanese?
Well, that totally depends on how much effort you put into it.
If you want my stance on the kindle, I say: Buy it. Even if you find reading Japanese books too difficult now, you can still use the Kindle for books in your native language and try Japanese books again at a later point in time.
Get Free Japanese Books
If you sign up to my Newsletter, I will send you a link to a site where you can get free Japanese books to download. It’s a site that digitalises old books that are in the public domain so that more people can get access to them.