英語で朗読を楽しむには、たった1つだけルールがある。The rule is this: Don't think in Japanese! (If you are trying to sneakily translate this rule into Japanese, that's exactly what you SHOUDLN'T do.) Turn off your Japanese-thinking brain circuit, and completely immerse yourself in the world of English language. Just listen to the words without trying to translate them into your native tongue. Let pictures emerge in your mind as you listen to the stories; feel the magical connection between the word and its meaning. To help you suppress your Japanese-dominated thinking pattern, I'm using as little Japanese as possible on this website.
Reading stories to others, as well as listening to stories being read to you, can be an exciting experience. If you don't believe me, you might want to read the following remark by Jean Jacques Rousseau, a wildly original 18th century French philosopher, who advocated story-reading in his Confessions:
Every night, after supper, we read some part of a small collection of romances which had been my mother's. My father's design was only to improve me in reading, and he thought these entertaining works were calculated to give me a fondness for it; but we soon found ourselves so interested in the adventures they contained, that we alternately read whole nights together, and could not bear to give over until at the conclusion of a volume. Sometimes, in a morning, on hearing the swallows at our window, my father, quite ashamed of this weakness, would cry, "Come, come, let us go to bed; I am more a child than thou art."
I soon acquired, by this dangerous custom, not only an extreme
facility in reading and comprehending, but, for my age, a too intimate
acquaintance with the passions.
-- From "The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau"
If you are an advanced learner of English, you could acquire an extreme facility in reading and comprehending as Rousseau did, simply by reading stories aloud and by having fun doing it! The underlying principle is simple: story-reading reinforces the direct connection between words and their meaning, since great stories stir complex human emotions and create memorable impressions. Also, as there is little visual input accompanying the spoken words (unlike TV and movies), listeners tend to learn to picture the scenes in their minds from verbal inputs alone.
To make your reading exercise really fruitful, however, you'd be advised to use a recording device to monitor your performance. Without a recording device, you'd be reading to no one in particular, and you won't have a chance to objectively assess your performance, either. When you use a recording device, on the other hand, you'd be reading to at least one listener -- you (although actual listening only takes place at playback). It means you would not be reading into a vacuum; instead, your reading would be an attempt to communicate with someone, which is crucial to a good performance. As you listen to the recording, perhaps you'll find many things wrong with your own reading, but it would also give you an incentive to perform better next time. And this feedback loop ensures steady improvements in your performance over time.
I've been practicing what I preach, and I have uploaded numerous recordings on this website. Although they are all works in progress in a sense, they might give you an idea about how far a non-native speaker of English could go in reading stories without being coached. Please have a listen, and if you think Rousseau was right after all, why don't you follow his example and start having fun reading good stories out loud?
G. Cooney (a.k.a. 国井仗司)
All rights reserved.
For reference: List of novels (unabridged) podcast at this site:
コナン・ドイル The Hound of the Baskervilles 03/17/2013～
シャーロット・ブロンテ Jane Eyre 03/09/2013～
アンナ・シューエル Black Beauty 10/28/2012～
ジョージ・オーウェル "1984" 09/11/2012～
ジェーン・オーステン Emma 2012.02.18～
H.G.ウェルズ 宇宙戦争 04/30/2012～
コナン・ドイル The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes 2012.03.22～
シャーウッド・アンダーソン Winesburg, Ohio 2012.03.20～
R. L. スティーブンソン Treasure Island 2012.03.04～
H.G. ウェルズ The Time Machine 2011.11.25～
アガサ・クリスティ The Mysterious Affair at Styles 2011.10.31～
ジュール・ヴェルヌ Around the World in 80 Days 2011.09.28～
フィッツジェラルド The Great Gatsby 2011.08.16～
オーステン Sense and Sensibility 2011.03.05～
コンラッド Heart of Darkness 2011.03.02～
オーステン Pride and Prejudice 2010.07.30～
オーウェル 『動物農場』 2010.05.04～
ルイス・キャロル 不思議の国のアリス 2008.09.14～