incrementally down the rabbit-hole; or, 不思議の国のアリスの読み方

I have long maintained that for proper maintenance of mental health, it is absolutely essential to read Alice in Wonderland once yearly; and now, since the idea is to read whatever I read in Japanese wherever possible, why not Alice in Japanese?

And just then, Kendo mentioned an interesting SRS concept he was working on.  Usually, incremental reading is used simply to learn facts and make connections between them, but in one’s native language.  Instead, he was taking bits of Japanese text, like short news articles or monolingual definitions, and putting them in the SRS as simply reading cards.  So he was getting the benefit of spaced repetition, without any of the stress of recollection; a sort of hybrid of extensive reading and SRS.

Now these were fairly short snippets of text, but I thought, why not attempt a whole book in this manner, with cards that could be read in five or ten or fifteen minutes each – and that was how the Alice deck was born.  It’s a parallel text, taken from Genpaku and Gutenberg.  The question side is the original text without furigana (for the most part – some of the more difficult kanji (it seems this edition was designed for maybe third or fourth-year elementary school students) have the readings following them in parentheses (I might excise these yet if they are bothersome)), and the answer side is the readings and the English text.  Each chapter is divided into three roughly equal-sized sections, for a total of 36 cards.  You can find the deck as an Anki shared deck to download.  The title is “Alice in Wonderland – 不思議の国のアリス”.

I have great hopes for this method, but can’t comment at all on its effectiveness yet since I’m just starting.   I’ll report back in a month or so.  At any rate, if you are overdue to reread Alice, why not try it this way?

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9 responses to “incrementally down the rabbit-hole; or, 不思議の国のアリスの読み方

  1. Great way to sneak in some literature reading 😉

    I’m wondering, though, does it mean you tend to focus on the English and let the Japanese slide? Or does it really feel like you’re picking up and getting a good feel for the Japanese as well? I know you just started, but I thought I would ask anyway since I happened to think of it!

    • It is a good question. I think I know what the answer will be, namely that I just use the English for reference where I don’t get something, and that that won’t be frequent. That’s because I’m pretty much at the 95% comprehension sweet spot with this text. However, it will be interesting to see how it turns out!

      Anyway deleting the English part out of the card template is easy enough, if needed.

  2. this is certainly exciting. It will be thrilling to see how this goes. Could it change the way we read novels entirely? Or change the way we SRS to study languages? Both? I don’t know but I cant wait to find out. Right now, I’m really in the zone with the shorter cards, but I will eventually give this deck a try myself. Especially if you begin reporting back positive results. がんばってね!

  3. Will download that deck when I get a chance – sounds kinda similar to what I’ve been doing for the last four months and it’s working out really well… very, very interested in what you find 🙂

  4. * That sounds really spammy, sorry. Apart from Kendo have you come across other people trying the same thing?

    • I know of someone who took the first Harry Potter (in Japanese), broke it up into one sentence chunks, and adds several of those a day to an Incremental Reading deck. He’s been AWOL a couple weeks though, so I don’t really know how it’s going beyond an initial positive reaction. He was doing that in concert with reading along in the SAME book while listening to the audio book. Doing sort of a dual intensive/extensive reading of the book. He said that knowing he’d eventually get to an analysis of all those words he didn’t know took the pressure off to want to look up everything as he went while doing the audio book part. Then, knowing he was also reading it much faster made going through sentence-by-sentence/word-by-word not as mind-numbingly frustrating. I really believe we are on to something with this stuff. Eldon, I found your take on it quite interesting as well. I hope more people will continue to experiment with working incremental reading into their language learning projects.

      • When he rematerialises it’d be interesting to ask him how it’s going then. Could I humbly request a link?

        And I agree that it seems to be a ‘big thing’ too. Out of all the things I’ve ever tried related to second language acquisition, ILL (incremental language learning) has produced the best results by far, at least in terms of reading ability.

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