Thursday, February 18, 2016

Learning languages by reading III

Here are some selected parts from several blogs. Of course there is more, much more, in each blog, so don't just read this, go and read the article yourself and pick up what YOU need/want/note!

How to Read in a Foreign Language

"I do most of my reading with physical books. If it’s an article I’ve found on the internet I print it. Reading on the computer tires my eyes, it’s distracting and I am not able to digest information from digital sources like I am able to with physical literature."

"I make notes on the article and underline new words and expressions to make the content mine."

"Writers take the time to select appropriate words to express their thoughts and emotions. Immersing yourself in this refined form of language will refine both your thinking and language skills."

Learning a Language by Reading Books: 5 Super Strategies

"Books contain a richer language."
"Attack the language on all fronts."

"Your books will always be there for you. By reading a book, you remove another limiting factor of language acquisition—that of finding a capable and consistent instructor or mentor. The consistency issue is precluded because the lessons are permanently printed on the book. They’re not dependent on the moods swings or the availability of the instructor. Books never tire or get mad after the 20th repetition. You go at it at your own pace. Your self-esteem won’t take a hit because another person is witnessing your relatively slow progress."

1. Read Children’s Books

2. Read Parallel Texts

3. Read Extensively
"Don’t worry too much if you’re not fully absorbing the actual meaning of the material you’re reading. Just read on. Don’t be tempted to grab the dictionary on the first unfamiliar word you meet. Just barrel through the text and read on anyway."

4. Read Intensively
Actively be involved in what you’re reading. Meaning, try to absorb all the lessons presented on one page before moving on to the next.
Have a dictionary close by.
Write copious amounts of notes on the margins of the page.
Write your mnemonics, insights and examples.
Underline, highlight and encircle words.
Dogear the pages.
Your goal isn’t to finish the book or to get the story. Your goal is to learn the language along the way.

5. Read Your Hobby

If you are learning a foreign language, then you should be READING in it

"Reading at even a slow pace also exposes us to more sentences per minute than the average movie or TV show."

Start basic and small. 
Read things you’ve already read in your native language. 
Read books with their accompanying audiobooks. 
Watching TV or movies with closed-captioning in the native language can sometimes be a decent substitute for this last tip, but be careful: most closed captions fail to mimic the spoken lines word-for-word, which can result in a confusing audiovisual disconnect.

5 Hacks to Learn Languages by Reading Literature

1. Keep a Dictionary Close to Hand

Looking up words you don’t know in a dictionary is the most simple strategy, and also one of the most effective. This method consists of reading the text, underlining unknown vocabulary, looking up these words in a reliable dictionary, then writing down their meanings (in a specific language notebook you have for the notes about the language.)
(Learn the vocabulary through SRS flashcards)

2. Comparative Reading: Keep Two Books Side by Side (L1 and L2) (or bilingual books/parallel texts)

Take notes: write down quotes, commentaries, vocabulary, everything interesting - in the language notebook

3. Read Comic Books and strips

4. Read While Listening to the Audiobook

5. Use Easy Reading Books for “Facilitated Reading” (adapted, "easy", "simplified" version for learners)

How to Learn to Read Novels in a Foreign Language

"I have tried reading books in foreign languages before, such as when I was learning Spanish. Like most, I found it challenging. The number of unknown words and the sheer amount of confusion made it easy to give up, even with simple books. It seemed more like a chore than anything else.

I stopped at a newsstand in Geneva. I was picking up a snack when the “Best  Seller” wall caught my eye; a book by Michael Crichton called simply Pirates! in French. On a whim, I picked it up.

Within hours I was hooked. Sure, I had to have my dictionary handy the whole time. Sure, it took a long time at first. It ended up taking me exactly 7 days to finish the novel, but it was well worth it.

About 3 days an 10 chapters in, I got an idea; graphing the progress. I just recorded how long it took me  to read a chapter and the number of  words I looked up, then divided by the number of pages in the chapter to get a time/page and words/page average.

Reading books like this has really expanded my vocabulary and even my sense of grammar. It has resulted in me developing a  more natural comprehension of the language.
On the other hand, books do nothing to help pronunciation, oral comprehension, etc."

Extensive reading: why it is good for our students… and for us

Extensive Reading (ER) (reading for leisure, fun)

principles for successful ER: read a lot, read often, read widely (many different types and topics), read what interests you, read because you like reading, you like stories, you want to know what is being said in the text.

Remember, life is too short to read "bad" books. There's an ocean of reading material in the world, so you don't need to stay by any specific puddle or bucket of water.

No-one is going to test you about the book. There are no rules and no expectations. There is no comparison. You read in your own pace and what you chose to read. You don't read because you have to or ought to or should, you read because you want to. You are not to understand the exact meaning of every word, you shouldn't be using a dictionary or grammar when you read (you don't use that in your mothertongue either).

"Reading is, by its very nature, a private, individual activity. It can be done anywhere, at any time of day. Readers can start and stop at will, and read at the speed they are comfortable with. They can visualise and interpret what they read in their own way. They can ask themselves questions (explicit or implicit), notice things about the language, or simply let the story carry them along."

Learning a Foreign Language by Reading a Novel

The notion that you can learn a foreign language as a side-effect of reading for pleasure in that language is called extensive reading, as contrasted with intensive reading, which is when you analyse a text until you have understood it thoroughly.

The #1 principle for a successful extensive reading program is that "the reading material is easy." For this reason, most extensive reading programs direct students to what are called "graded readers."
(Actually, it's not "easy" but "adjusted to the skill level of the reader")


You will need:
- a monolingual and a bilingual dictionary
- language textbooks, grammar
- a reference grammar
- the book in L1 and L2

The general idea is to read some unit (say a paragraph) and make a solid attempt to understand it before resorting to any of the materials above.
Then you use the resources in roughly this order:
- monolingual dictionary (MD)
-- Whenever you look up a word, decide whether it's worth memorizing. Highlight anything you think you should memorize and add it to your flashcards later.
- bilingual dictionary (BD)
-- When you've figured out the word, switch back to the MD and see if you can make sense of the definition now.
- monolingual + bilingual
-- try to understand the definition with the help of the BD
- Wikipedia
- grammar
-- maybe the word is just another version of a word, like a verb in an unknown tense.

"Other times the dictionary fails you because it doesn't support compound words or because the inflected word happens to look the same as a different word. A good English example is "carving". If you wanted the definition of "to carve" it won't help much for the dictionary to show you a definition for the noun "carving." In those cases, you open the dictionary as a book and manually look the word up."

- "If all the words seem to make sense individually, but you're not sure how they work together, then it's time to consult the reference grammar."

- google it, bing it

- "If all else has failed, go ahead and look at the English translation"
-- then go through these steps again with the basic understanding of the meaning, find out why you didn't get it earlier

* collocations, idioms, slang, sayings, quotes, references

- For things that you can't figure out to save your soul, highlight the sentence, bookmark the page, and bring it to a native speaker for help.

Expensive reading?
"If students read approximately a million words of running text a year, and if they know 96-98 per cent of the words, they will be exposed to 20,000 to 40,000 new words… If students learn one word in ten through context, they will learn somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 new words through extensive reading in a year."
The blog entry and comments is a discussion about why this doesn't happen. Very interesting!

"For me reading in a second language has always been a bit of a chore. I always used to start out with good intentions of working with a dictionary and recording new vocabulary in a notebook but I find that these things take me away so much from immersing myself in the world of the book that I ended up losing the will to carry on.

Recently I’ve tried out a few things which have been more motivating and have also helped me to learn.

1) Reading a book in L2 which I know really well in English.
2) Reading screenplays.
3) Reading an author in L2 that I am very familiar with in English."

How To Read Effectively In A Foreign Language

In our native language we use a lot of micro-skills to adjust the intensity of reading. When it comes to reading in a foreign language, we abandon these skills and try to understand every single word...

But to gain the benefits of extensive reading (which is what builds up our language without us "doing anything") one must read for the fun of reading, read a chapter at a time, not interrupt to find out words and note grammar, but ignore what one doesn't readily understand - the goal is to have read the book, not to understand every word.

(Now, this doesn't mean that you are to read the words of a foreign language and believe you can learn the language - on the other hand... that might as well happen. There's plenty of stories of people who started with a book, a page, a sentence in a foreign language, who then figured out the meaning of it and managed to understand the language. But I suppose there was something familiar with the language... I doubt you could learn anything from a book written in foreign letters. Like, if you don't know Hangeul, staring at Korean won't do you much good.)

How to deal with words you don’t know

* Look at the word and see if it’s familiar in any way.
* Go back and read the problem sentence many times over. Try to understand the word by context.
* Make a note of the word in a notebook, so you can check the meaning later. (Note also the company of the word.) Stop yourself from rushing to find out the foreign word immediately when you see it.
* if you find a verb you know but is conjugated in an unfamiliar way - can you understand the gist of what's going on? Good, continue and let the word be.

I am not quite sure of what he suggest one should be doing, but what I understand is this:
- read the first chapter, from beginning to end without stopping or making notes.
- write a summary of what you just read. If you think you have an idea of what you just read, just move on and read the next chapter. Otherwise, read it again, and this time make notes. Make notes of what you think you understand, interesting words, grammar points etc. Mark word you believe to be important for you to understand to understand the story. Check those words. Read it a third time. Now you should have a humm. Continue to the next chapter.

Reading-Listening method

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