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:


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:

Why does the boy like running?
He likes to feel the wind
That is why he likes it.
That day the cat and the boy walked out toward the duck.
After that, there was a problem. Because of the tall grown grass
Growing grass
The boy picked the grass but couldn’t find the duck.
Because of that, the rival cat lit the grass on fire.
He lit it with a match.
And then, the duck surprisingly tried to fly.
But, The duck couldn’t fly.
Trying to fly.
Unfortunately, the duck’s wings caught fire.
But, even though most of the duck’s feathers were burned he got away so fast.
The escaping duck disturbed by burning wings, when the cat suddenly chased after it he could not get close.
Atop a far away tree the mother was watching the scene.
The mother who was so worried about her sun accidentally burning ran towards her son.
Mother was worried about her son burning.
The mother who ran and came
The mother who ran and came saw abruptly shouted “Stop! It’s dangerous!”
The mother and the young lad held each other.
And then, mother spoke.
It’s too dangerous, so let’s give up on catching the duck.
At that time, the cat found the duck.
And, he flew and caught the bird and sadly caught fire.
Mother drew water from the lake and used it on the cat.
And, with the cat’s fire out, catching the duck was a success. Everybody ate Peking duck for dinner.
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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