Saturday, December 24, 2016

English Extensive Reading Manual

One of my Japanese friends, Kazu-chan, has just published a book!

Ten years ago, he came to Montreal through the working holiday program in order to learn English and French. He first got a job at the restaurant where my wife is working, Sakura Gardens, but he realized that a Japanese restaurant was the worse place to learn a new language, so he went to work at the Tim Horton's on Saint-Denis street instead. After graduating from the prestigious Tokyo University, he was hired by a big venture company, but he quickly discovered that he had no taste for the abuses a junior salaryman (office worker) must endure in Japan (remember Amélie Nothomb's novel, Fear and Trembling ?).

Choosing a more independent (but alas poorer) lifestyle, he founded with a friend (Akira Sakaizume, a senior in Buddhist literature) the language school Philosophia. While pursuing English learning methods that are more suitable for Japanese people, they are helping students not only to prepare for the college entry exam but also to develop useful English skills. For him it was a dream to help children realize their hope while broadening their mind through English education.

The school offers three types of course: the Kokugo class (i.e. native language) to help improve the students' skills in the Japanese language; the eigo tadoku class (‘Ta’ means ‘a lot’ and ‘doku’ means ‘to read’) that uses extensive reading to increase English language proficiency; and the Terakoya class (lit. “temple school”) which is a more traditional cram school offering individual guidance to students from elementary school up to those preparing for university entrance examinations.

To help his students better understand the lessons, he started producing small educational manga. As he improved his drawing skills, he started self-publishing illustrated lessons for his school. After a while, he found a publisher interested in the project and worked hard to comply with all the requirements of a professional publication. And the result is this book, English Extensive Reading Manual.

The book is divided in two sections. The first one, reading from front to back, contains the manga lessons. The first chapters explain that, the best way to reach English proficiency, is to use "extensive reading" and " multi-listening" to read and listen to a large volume of English sentences. This technique is often over-looked, but reading a lot of extremely easy books that you can really enjoy and listening to audio books and movies on DVDs is an excellent way to comprehensively improve your language skills. After having explained the methodology, the first section continues with the illustrated lessons themselves.

The second section of the book, reading from back to front, introduces texts divided in seven difficulty levels from junior high school level (vocabulary of 200-300 words) to university admission level (5000+ words). For each levels, you'll find an analysis of the sentences, a list of vocabulary, a quick comprehension test and a list of reading suggestions (sometimes with internet links). You can start with the text that matches your level.

I must admit that my Japanese is not that good, so I cannot really tell how effective this books really is. However, it looks really great. It makes me want to be a Japanese trying to learn English!

(マンガ) こんなに効く! 英語多読多聴マニュアル [ (Manga) kon'nani kiku! Eigo tadoku tachō manyuaru / Manga — It really works! English Reading & Listening Manual ] / English Extensive Reading Manual, by KOIKE Kazutoshi. Tokyo: Beret Publishing, December 2016. 232 pg. ISBN 978-4-86064-497-0. 1,500円. See the back cover. Available on

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