I am pleased to announce that I have (finally!) begun releasing the Kanji Learner’s Course Graded Reading Sets, and welcome you to download Volume 1 for free as noted below. Thank you very much for so patiently waiting for this series to come out.
Freebies and discounts
Volume 1 of the Graded Reading sets is available for free from this site, and from the iBooks Store. I have tried to make it free on Amazon Kindle as well, but the best I could get was $0.99 (without surrending my right to release on non-Amazon platforms). If you are a Kindle user, please feel free to use the free pdf for Volume 1, then purchase other volumes from Amazon Kindle. To the extent possible given the particular constraints of iBooks and Kindle, the price for Vols. 2-9 will be nearly or exactly the same on both platforms.
Also, if you are learning kana, or could use a little more information on the fine points of this surprisingly complex subject, please feel free to download my Kana Crash Course. Naturally the back matter is chock full of ads for the various supplementary products I sell to try to make ends meet!
The series consists of 30,000+ exercises covering all 2,300 KLC kanji and containing over a quarter million total kanji. On average, the nine volumes provide 432 reading exercises (containing over 3,600 kanji) per US dollar, based on the US price without discounts. If you get through it all, you will be a certified kanjisseur and fluent reader of Japanese!
In accordance with the cumulative nature of this series, each volume contains more practice content than the last. The series thus adapts automatically to your evolving needs as a learner, providing relatively little practice at the early stages (when your priority should be to learn more kanji and grammar patterns), and increasing the volume of practice later on (as your priority shifts toward applying and reinforcing the kanji and vocabulary you have already learned).
The best way to quantify the progressive development of this series is to calculate the average “kanji content” of each volume:
Kanji content for Volumes 1-9
(click to enlarge)
With a series whose English portion alone is the length of 17 copies of Macbeth, I had to strike a balance between having too many volumes and having too much length per volume. Already the combined volume for kanji 1-400 weighs in at 948 pages (as Kindle calculates it), and by this measure, the most advanced volumes will surpass 2,000 or even 3,000 pages! While bundling the series into nine volumes makes some of the volumes incredibly long and somewhat unwieldy to navigate, at least you will only have to deal with nine volumes — or only seven, if you download the combined set for Vols. 1-3. This set, covering the first 400 kanji in the course, consists of 4,060 exercises containing over 20,000 kanji.
I am releasing the GRS on both Amazon Kindle and the iBooks Store. Users with iOS devices can use the Kindle app for iOS, but should seriously consider opting for the iBooks version instead, due to its Scrolling View feature. This feature allows you to display each practice item without displaying its phonetic and English glosses. Both Kindle and iBooks for MacOS currently lack this feature, and require you to advance by page-by-page, rather than scrolling one line at a time.
I love communicating with users one-on-one. Still, this group would be better off being able to communicate as a group and share different perspectives and experiences. I have created a public Facebook group that I hope everyone will join and use to share information. Please share your news with us and help us build the best source of information on learning Japanese.
Using this Keys to Japanese (KTJ) site
In addition to the Facebook group, I warmly invite you to use this site to track your progress with the KLC, form study groups, ask questions, etc. I have created the public Facebook group because I feel it will have a wider reach and be the best approach for sharing information publicly. But KTJ is a better fit for forum discussions on particular topics and for creating study groups. As soon as the next version of the MyCred plugin comes out, KTJ will also enjoy some great new features for tracking stats on your kanji learning. Please join us here as well as on Facebook, thank you!
Please send your feedback
While I have done some initial testing and fixing with a small group, I would be very grateful indeed if you would let me know of any kinks you might discover (especially any display issues), and any advice you might have on how to improve the series. In particular, I would like to ask your advice on how I can get the word out about the series. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you!
Delay and improvements
I sincerely apologize to those of you who have been waiting a very long time for this release. Needless to say, the process of creating these books has taken me far longer than I anticipated.
I owe you a brief explanation. Chief among the causes of this delay were the countless obstacles that I encountered, many related to displaying the Japanese and furigana properly across different platforms and devices. Then there was my decision to include a very large volume and variety of practice material, drawing examples from over a hundred sources (many of which required editing), in addition to writing thousands of exercises myself to ensure that you would get sufficient practice with each character. Finally, there was my characteristic tendency keep making improvements and adding more features, the most time-consuming of which were adding the grammar support and switching to a “flowable” text format.
I sincerely hope that the result of this process will be helpful to you and will justify the long wait. Although adding the grammar support took a very long time, I felt it was important to give you extra help with the countless grammar structures that randomly appear in the exercises. Depending on your grammar level, many of the tips may be unnecessary (especially at the beginning). Please just ignore them until you start needing them.
Converting to a “flowable” text format (i.e., no fixed layout) required a complete do-over after having completed one volume using an entirely different system for producing and displaying the furigana (phonetic guides). Displaying furigana in a flowable format required discarding the “ruby” and displaying the phonetic guides parenthetically. The result is a product that will allow you to display the text in any point size without having to manually zoom in and out, and which provides word division (in the phonetic gloss) as an additional learning aid. I would like to thank Alistair Kerr for timely feedback that led me to make this important improvement to the series.
Thank you very much for your support for the KLC and your incredible patience waiting for the Graded Reading Sets. Good luck, and see you on KTJ & Facebook!
Andrew Scott Conning
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