Learning Japanese with Stories

Sushi Bowl I am absolutely convinced the best way to learn a language is through stories.

And best of all, you can do this with anyone at a language exchange. Rather than just spouting off the usual tourist phrases 100 times. Even as a beginner, you can still make simple stories. I started with barely any Mandarin and then my awesome tutor started making simple stories with me.

As for Japanese, my level is a bit deeper. I’ve been able to read simple stories without a dictionary thanks to the help of graded readers and children’s books. I have read Curious George in Japanese. It was awesome! But it was hard. Children’s books in Japanese have very little Kanji and different words and phrases for children.

Okay so here’s story one. My in person tutor and I started it. I posted the beginning of the story from last time for your convenience:

昔々、速くないけど走るのが好きな男の子がいました。ある日、母さんが男の子に「アヒルを食べたいから、捕まえてきて』と言いました。でも、問題が有ります。アヒルは男の子よりはしるのが速いです。だから男の子は、アヒルのライバルの猫を連れて行きました。

And the rough Translation:

“A long long time ago, there was a boy who was not fast but liked to run. One day, his mother said to the boy “I want to eat duck, so go catch it and bring it back.” But, there is a problem. The duck is a faster runner than the boy. But, the boy went with the duck’s rival, the cat. “

So, my Skype tutor and I took this and finished up the story. This is all from the Skype chatbox with my rough translations underneath:

何で男の子は走るのが好きなんですか?
Why does the boy like running?
風を感じることが好きです
He likes to feel the wind
なぜなら、好きだからです
That is why he likes it.
その日、猫と男の子は、アヒルのいる方へ歩いて行きました。
That day the cat and the boy walked out toward the duck.
その後に、問題がありました。高い草が生えていたので、アヒルを探すことが難しかったのです。
After that, there was a problem. Because of the tall grown grass
草が生える(はえる)
Growing grass
男の子は、草を抜いてみましたが、アヒルが見つかりません。
The boy picked the grass but couldn’t find the duck.
そのため、ライバルの猫が草を焼きました。
Because of that, the rival cat lit the grass on fire.
マッチで焼きました
He lit it with a match.
すると、アヒルがびっくりして飛ぼうとしました。
And then, the duck surprisingly tried to fly.
でも、アヒルは飛べません。
But, The duck couldn’t fly.
飛ぼうとする
Trying to fly.
あいにく、アヒルの羽は焼けてしまいました。
Unfortunately, the duck’s wings caught fire.
だけど、そのアヒルは、羽が少し焼け残ったので、とても速く走って逃げました。
But, even though most of the duck’s feathers were burned he got away so fast.
逃げているアヒルを、猫が急いで追いかけましたが、燃えている羽が邪魔をして、近づけません。
The escaping duck disturbed by burning wings, when the cat suddenly chased after it he could not get close.
遠くの木の上から、母さんが、その光景を見ていました。
Atop a far away tree the mother was watching the scene.
「危ない!」
Dangerous!
息子が燃えてしまうと心配した母さんは、走って息子の方へ行きました。
The mother who was so worried about her sun accidentally burning ran towards her son.
母さんは、息子が燃えてしまうと心配した。
Mother was worried about her son burning.
走ってきた母さん
The mother who ran and came
走ってきた母さんを見ましたが、突然母さんに「やめて!危ないから!」と叫びました。
The mother who ran and came saw abruptly shouted “Stop! It’s dangerous!”
母さんと少年は抱き合いました。
The mother and the young lad held each other.
そして母さんは言いました。
And then, mother spoke.
「危ないから、もうアヒルを捕まえるのは諦めましょう。」
It’s too dangerous, so let’s give up on catching the duck.
その時、猫が急にアヒルを見つけました。
At that time, the cat found the duck.
そして、猫が飛んで捕まえましたが、燃えてしました。
And, he flew and caught the bird and sadly caught fire.
母さんは池から水を汲んで、猫にかけました。
Mother drew water from the lake and used it on the cat.
それで、猫の火は消え、アヒルを捕まえることに成功しました。みんなで夕飯にペキンダックを食べました。
And, with the cat’s fire out, catching the duck was a success. Everybody ate Peking duck for dinner.
めでたしめでたし。
And everyone lived happily every after.

Boy that was a long story. There were lots of little nuggets of complex grammar in there too, although the story is simple. Mostly, the vocabulary is simple.

Again, if you are in the intermediate, or even the beginning stages, you can make stories with a language exchange to learn much better than your average “Free-talking.” Not that Free talking is bad, it just needs some structure in order to be more effective in the short time you have with a native speaker.

I hope this story helps people. Please feel free to use it. You can use the sentences or the full story for flashcards, or whatever you want. Enjoy!

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