does reading VN improve you reading and writing?

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#1 by lmceachern
2016-01-14 at 04:22
< report >I want to improve my reading and writing skills and they say to improve you should read alot of books and write a lot. I like visual novels because I have a hard time concentrating on books while visual novel are easy to concentrate on. I think it does because reading a visual novel is like reading a book with pictures and music. Well reading manga or light novels improve my reading and writing skills too?Last modified on 2016-01-14 at 04:22
#2 by visual-life
2016-01-14 at 04:41
< report >Meh. It depends on how you read them. I suppose it could help your editing skills to pick out grammatical errors and such in the translations. Generally the more you read the better at it you will become, take that with a grain of salt. As for writing, I seriously doubt it. Write if you want to get better at writing.
#3 by gabezhul
2016-01-14 at 05:04
< report >
I want to improve my reading and writing skills and they say to improve you should read alot of books and write a lot.
Good advice. Contrary to popular misconceptions, writing is a skill, not a talent. You have to practice to get good at it.

Reading VNs as practice though? Sadly, not so much. There are a number of issues:
-Translation: What you are reading is a translated work, with all the flaws that come with it; ranging from typos and stiff language to bad grammar and outright garbage sentences. Not exactly the material you want to use to improve your literary skills unless you are looking for flaws to avoid.

-Different sensibilities: J-media and western books are different in more than the choice of language; they utilize different tropes and sensibilities. Visual novels, while generally very varied, still tend use some of said tropes to the point of driving them into the ground (tsunderes, pointless love triangles, food discussions, idiot friends, etc.), and taking those for granted can mess with your storytelling ability down the line.

-Representation: Frankly speaking, reading only VNs is going to atrophy your ability to write anything other than first-person POV stories with only light descriptive narration. It is exactly because visual novels rely a lot on their audio-visual aspect to get some details across that you would have to narrate in a real book. Combine that with the first point about translation qualities and their limited vocabulary, and this can really create some bad habits (I know it did for me).

Well reading manga or light novels improve my reading and writing skills too?
Only the same way consuming any other kind of fiction would; they would probably help you find some ropes when it comes to structuring a story, but that's about it.

In the case of LNs, the same issues would apply as to VNs: translation quality and different sensibilities; while mangas would have the same problem as outlined in the third point.

Ultimately I would say the entire idea of reading with the express purpose of improving your skills is a misguided one. You read to entertain yourself. Whatever sticks to you is a side-benefit. Writing, on the other hand, is much more important and the thing that you can actually improve on purpose. That one requires a lot of practice though (we are talking about hundreds of pages there) and a lot of experimentation to find one's literary sea-legs, but it's necessary.

In short: Read for your own entertainment, read varied things, don't stress over learning from them, instead focus on writing, even if what you write is just throwaway short-stories or snippets of larger works.
#4 by eacil
2016-01-14 at 05:43
< report >I don't think he said he wanted to write books.
I agree about the fact that, to improve, you need to read something that is grammatically correct and some translations aren't. If you are still a noob like me, you won't be able to know when there is a mistake, and think it's you, if it's not obvious.Last modified on 2016-01-14 at 05:46
#5 by bunny1ov3r
2016-01-14 at 05:59
< report >Am I right in assuming that you are a native English speaking person, and asking if reading an English translated visual novel would improve your English reading skill...?

I think #3 phrased the response perfectly.

You also asked for the same question about light novels, and I would like to respond with a "no", citing "translation" and "sensibilities" as stated in #3. Also, light novels lean toward fast food reads almost by definition, so in that regard as well it tends not to improve your reading ability as fast as reading a more serious novel. There is one exception (that I can think of): Tabi Deyou. In this case, I'd bet the translator edited thousands of times just to make sure that the language is of a very high grade.Last modified on 2016-01-14 at 06:02
#6 by shiki7th
2016-01-14 at 06:03
< report >it still depend on the person itself, for person like me who likes to study languages, there are several type of learning, like playing visual novel and prepare some dictionary to find words u dont understand works perfectly for my reading, in case for writing, JUST WRITE, WRITE, AND WRITE and do it thousand times or more, coz it needs more practical skill rather than talent like gabezhul said above.

that said, it also include if u want to learn other languages as well, like right now, im learning german and french as a hobbyLast modified on 2016-01-14 at 06:06
#7 by eacil
2016-01-14 at 06:06
< report >Why would a native English speaking person want to improve his _reading_ skill? Native but illiterate?
#8 by dk382
2016-01-14 at 13:00
< report >Literacy is not a binary trait. A person can improve their reading speed and their ability to comprehend the written word by reading more, even in their native language they are well-versed in. But the biggest effect reading has is in enhancing your vocabulary, something that's very important for writing eloquently.

But if you're looking to improving your English, don't rely on VN and LN translations. These translations almost always have very simple sentences with limited word variety. Reading some actual books written by native english speakers will be so many times more helpful than reading the machine-assisted garbage you'll get from this scene.Last modified on 2016-01-14 at 13:02
#9 by formis
2016-01-14 at 17:02
< report >Your description is a bit general.
Visual novels are usually Japanese / English (if translated, or native) reading material. Do you hope to improve your skills in English, or Japanese?
Are you a native speaker looking for improvement, or is it a foreign language for you?

Anyway, writing is out of the question for the most part. You're reading, not writing so your passive vocabulary, grammar and recognition might improve, not your active one.

As for reading, like others pointed out most VNs are fan-translated to English, so if it's English skill you're looking for it might not be ideal due to potentially incorrect grammar (depends on the VN of course). However, if you at least know your grammar it shouldn't be that much of a problem, I made the biggest progress in English by reading fanfictions and chatting on forums and I'd say my English isn't that bad. :P

If you want to improve your Japanese reading skills it should be a bit simpler since most are official releases, just pick a VN and start reading.Last modified on 2016-01-14 at 17:02
#10 by lmceachern
2016-01-15 at 03:48
< report >I don't read the fan translations though. I read my VNs from steam.
#11 by bunny1ov3r
2016-01-15 at 03:56
< report >@10, or OP whatever.

The points about "Different sensibilities" and "representation issue" still applies, and steam version =/= "perfect translation"

Honestly the ones who voted "no" to this thread are not saying that there is zero benefit to be gained from reading Japanese VNs, but rather arguing the marginal benefit of reading a VN in improving English reading skills is so small compared to reading a serious English novel, that it wouldn't be worth it if your sole objective of reading VN is to learn English.

Obviously, that is not your sole objective, but you still don't gain much from reading a translated VN in terms of learning English, steam or not.

You probably got your idea from tonnes of people reading raw Japanese VN to learn Japanese. However, in that case, there are 2 key differences:
1. they are reading materials meant to be written in their intended target language
2. they are usually starting from a language level WAY below you.

As for manga and light novel, it's more or less the same idea. Except that occasionally there are some SAT/GRE words thrown in there, so you might learn a complicated English word or two. It all depend on the translator though.Last modified on 2016-01-15 at 04:06
#12 by reo
2016-01-15 at 09:59
< report >I remember that I'm having a hard time reading VN in Japanese in the past. After giving it up for some month, I found myself able to read some Japanese in the VN official websites and online game(ai sp@ce). And after some more self-study of Japanese from VN, hooray! I was able to read VN in Japanese!!
#13 by dk382
2016-01-15 at 10:52
< report >
I don't read the fan translations though. I read my VNs from steam.
lol. The translations on Steam are often fan translations that are packaged and sold with the game. The rest are rarely much better than fan translations, companies like MangaGamer and Sekai Project actually recruit from the fan translation scene so the quality is only marginally better. MangaGamer lately has been doing more thorough editing/QC than most fan translation groups would do, so at least there's that. But my point remains, these translations available on Steam or anywhere else aren't going to be good enough to improve your english abilities at all, especially if you're a native. In fact, I know several people who remarked that their writing has actually gotten *worse* since getting into VNs. The stuff you find on Steam simply isn't good enough to be of any help at all.Last modified on 2016-01-15 at 12:20
#14 by kilicool64
2016-01-15 at 11:11
< report >@13 What about Grisaia no Kajitsu though? Its Steam release is based on the fan translation, which was almost universally considered to be of high quality.
#15 by pendelhaven
2016-01-15 at 12:06
< report >grisaia is a big exception.
#16 by formis
2016-01-15 at 12:06
< report >To be honest, there are no "perfect translations" from Japanese to English. The languages are way too different from each other and there are often tons of ways something can be interpreted / paraphrased.

But while the translated works might not be of high quality when it comes to translation itself (because everyone has an opinion on how somethig should be translated differently), if proper editing and quality checks are done it can be perfectly fine English reading material. But usually it is simpler English so the benefits to reading skill and expanding your vocabulary are still questionable.Last modified on 2016-01-15 at 12:24
#17 by encrypted12345
2016-01-15 at 13:21
< report >It's a good idea to read short stories or novels instead. If your attention span is that weak, poetry can at least help improve vocabulary. Even if visual novels might improve your reading and writing skills, that's probably because they were low in the first place. Most modern popular novels are probably on the same level as them though, so stick with the classics.

Though I'd say that reading in general doesn't actually help with writing as much as people seem to think. You have to write and get critiqued on it.
#18 by sanahtlig
2016-01-15 at 17:46
< report >Reading VNs will help your Japanese. Not so much your English (assuming you're a native speaker). To improve, you need to read the works of good writers, and English VN translations are not generally written by good writers.

I will say that my ability to read Japanese has improved from nearly zero to somewhat passable purely from reading VNs, which is something like a 1000-fold improvement.Last modified on 2016-01-15 at 17:48

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