Reading Practice through Twitter

Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” He was right. And for anyone learning Japanese, one of the best places to show up at is Twitter.

There are many reasons for this. But consider just the following three:

1. Tweets are Easy to Start Reading

If you have rikaikun enabled in your browser, and know your kana, you can start reading sentences on Twitter immediately.

This means that you don’t have to know 6000 of the most common words in Japanese before you allow yourself to read one interesting sentence in it. It also means that you don’t need 30 minutes or 1 hour to devote to deciphering something way above your level.

It is just a sentence, whose meaning you can discover easily, and which you thus have to summon very little energy or willpower to begin.

2. Tweets are Easy to Finish Reading

More often that not, soon after you start reading a sentence on Twitter, you will finish doing so.

This means that you just won. You successfully read kanji in context. And not just any context: This was a context created by a Japanese person for another Japanese person.

It was not a simplified example in a graded reader, nor was it an overly-formal example from a textbook. It was the real deal, the kind of sentence that some teachers would only let you see after studying for years. And you just read it.

As a result, you may feel better—having completed what you set out to do—and you will definitely have leveled up your Japanese skills a tiny amount.

3. Tweets are Easy to Keep Reading

Because sentences on Twitter are easy to start and easy to finish reading, they are also easy to keep reading.

When considered all together, this means that very soon after you begin studying Japanese, a torrent of content in the language is both open to and understandable by you. Some of the brightest people in Japan worked to make that content interesting. And because of the format, you can appreciate it all with almost no effort.

This makes Twitter the language-learning equivalent of a bag of Lay’s potato chips. It becomes very hard (if not impossible) to consume just one sentence.

And that’s the kind of place you want to be. For just as pennies make dollars, and just as dust piled high can make a mountain, so one understandable sentence after another gets you used to (or fluent in) a language.

All you have to do is show up, follow the right people, and pay attention to what they are saying. Easy enough, right?

Any other reasons why you’ve found Twitter to be one of your major Japanese tools of choice?

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I love reading books in Japanese and plan to start translating them into English in 2015.


Reading Practice through Twitter — 11 Comments

  1. Nice article! Any suggestions on people to follow?
    I wanted Iida Kaori from Morning Musume but haven’t found hers yet.

    • I have a lot of suggestions, but stay tuned for those, which are coming soon.

      In the meantime, while Iida Kaori doesn’t seem to have a Twitter account yet, there are two hashtags for her name (#飯田圭織 and #IidaKaori). The people who use it are obviously fans of hers and thus you may want to follow (and become friends with) them.

      Although nothing may beat reading her tweets for you, interacting with her other fans may come close.

  2. I follow a lot of technology related people: kotaku,Gizmodo,tabroid just to name a few. There are also a lot of Japanese vloggers have twitter accounts

    • Thanks for sharing! Part of what makes Twitter great for language-learning is that accounts often focus on just one topic. So if you know what you like, as you seem to, you can easily find accounts tweeting on that (and only that).

    • Twitterbots can be dangerous in that a few of ’em posting frequently can hog up your entire Twitter stream, but I love the bots dedicated to my favorite shows and books. Would be interested in what bots you like if you have time to share.

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