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Reading Literature & Vocabulary

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frenkeld
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5453 days ago

2042 posts - 2719 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 25 of 39
08 March 2007 at 4:01pm | IP Logged 
Farley wrote:
... it was an eye opener understanding how he used dual-language texts and progress sentence-to-sentence then paragraph-to-paragraph and finally chapter-to-chapter.


It was quite an eye-opener for me too. In trying to think what possible objections one might have to this approach, it occurred to me that those who like to discover new languages from within, i.e., with minimum reference to their native language, may not care for this method's heavily bilingual nature. In particular, someone like Kato Lomb, who apparently relished the challenge of a monolingual book practically from the very beginning of her study of a new language, might have felt that way. Well, that was Kato Lomb. Coming back to Earth, I also have a prejudice that reading novels without notes, translation, or a dictionary - and if one does use a dictionary, it better be a monolingual one as soon as possible - helps one learn to think in the target language and ultimately results in a more profound feel for the language. The question then is whether it's time to lose that prejudice.

Linguamor stated in another thread:

Linguamor wrote:
"Comprehensible input" is speech and writing that you can understand. In my experience, how it is made comprehensible does not greatly matter. What does matter is that the language learner is exposed to ample amounts of it.


If one accepts this premise, one can't but conclude that it should be irrelevant whether one uses bilingual or monolingual techniques to make the input comprehensible - the key is to get the meaning across by whatever means.

In fact, if I think back on how I myself ever got to the point of opening a novel in a foreign language, it was by first studying a certain amount of translated sentences and passages anyway, so it's more a psychological matter that one would refuse to see the translations of any readings outside the textbook, and then, to ease one's conscience, one can simply choose to consider bilingual texts as a kind of Assimil III (and beyond). In fact, if a bilingual text is thought of as just an extension of the foundational course, one can even work with it while also struggling through one's first novel without a dictionary, if one wants to. I think I am going to try this dual approach with German - I am already muddling through my first novel, so it's just a matter of ordering a bilingual text.

P.S. Before you know it, I may yet end up adopting Assimil as my main introductory method for future languages. Even so, I am not sure even the combination of Ardaschir and Linguamor will ever make me give up on keeping a good grammar alongside, but I am starting to learn to never say never in this forum.

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luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5715 days ago

3133 posts - 4350 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 26 of 39
08 March 2007 at 4:27pm | IP Logged 
frenkeld wrote:
One can simply choose to consider bilingual texts as a kind of Assimil III (and beyond). In fact, if a bilingual text is thought of as just an extension of the foundational course, one can even work with it while also struggling through one's first novel without a dictionary, if one wants to.

In the realm of bilingual material, I have a Spanish book on tape that I listen to when I'm tired of drilling. I have the book in English and Spanish versions as well. I'm quite familiar with the book in English. When I have 5-10 minutes of quick downtime, I read it in Spanish and I think that's helping. At one time, I found the book very advanced, but after working with it for about a year, I now understand almost everything, and can sometimes recall the precise English wording as I read it. Less frequently, I recall the Spanish phrasing while I'm reading the English, but that's a good sign too. My current "work" with the book is to note the few words on each page that I want a clearer definition of. When I get serious about French, I'm going to use the same book for this facet of study.

On the listening front, ImmersionPlus apparently has the same situational dialogs in several languages. At full speed, it's probably 40 minutes of non-stop audio. My library has ImmersionPlus for at least one other language (Italian or German) and I've been tempted to check it out just to get some comprehensible input, since I'm quite familar with the Spanish version. I don't want to get to far off the path though, but I do think its a logical approach for someone wanting to learn more than one language.
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 5213 days ago

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Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
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 Message 27 of 39
09 March 2007 at 3:35am | IP Logged 
It was enlightening to see what Ardaschir and other posters has written about dictionaries, because I use them quite differently and apparently to a larger extent.

Phase one: I use them to learn words in preparation for later reading and listening. In this respect it doesn't matter that I just retain one or maybe two translations for every target language word or word combination, because the goal is not to learn all about the word, but to get them to stick in my memory. When they is reliably stored there the need to refer back to the translations gradually wears away.

Phase two: during active reading I run through the text and write down everything that I don't understand or which seems at odds with my previous understanding of a word (for instance its use in an idiomatic phrase). When I have reached a convenient stopping point or I have 20-30 items on my list I look the words up in the dictionary, write the translations that are relevant in this precise context (plus maybe a couple more that caught my eye), and then I read the passage again to check that I haven't left something out or forgotten the meaning of something. It is a cumbersome process, but necessary.

Ordinary extensive reading and all kinds of listening falls outside this scheme because dictionaries are not involved. When listening there is simply not time to make notes so just about all the vocabulary and the basics of grammar must already be in place if I have to understand spoken language, but when it is then it is just a matter of concentration. In this process there is no time for translation (and no need). The same applies to extensive reading, for instance when I'm reading a newspaper during a travel or while I'm sitting in a train. Even if I have a dictionary in my pocket (which is not always the case) I mostly just accept that there are things that I don't understand. Of course I may retain the odd idiomatic phrase in my memory, but generally these activities are more like training in fluency than a way of acquisition of the basic elements of a language.

It is also this kind of extensive and superficial way of dealing with unknown stuff that is relevant for reading articles in a language or dialect that I don't intend to learn, such as Afrikaans or Low German. And the result after doing it for a long time may be that I'm am fluently passive, because I can read and understand much or even all that I'm confronted with, but I still can't say two sentences in a row in the foreign language. I simply lack the hardcore knowledge about grammar and vocabulary that I get from my grammars and dictionaries. At most such passive knowledge about a language can be used for learning it faster at a later time and with the proper equipment at hand (I'm doing that with Dutch for the moment).

I would never be succesful in learning a language that didn't already have a good dictionary and a comprehensive grammar, written by pioneer people who apparently have a different wiring in their brains.



Edited by Iversen on 09 March 2007 at 3:42am

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frenkeld
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5453 days ago

2042 posts - 2719 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English
Studies: German

 
 Message 28 of 39
09 March 2007 at 1:06pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
I run through the text and write down everything ... I look the words up in the dictionary, write the translations ... It is a cumbersome process, but necessary.


This is probably the most common approach, but as you yourself noted, people have reported successful alternatives for the learning stage. The question then is whether there is anything substantively different about these various techniques, or whether they are just a matter of individual style, to be selected at will.

Let's look at Ardhaschir's argument:

Ardaschir wrote:
I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is to avoid using a dictionary until you have gotten past these stages. Doing so harms you more than it helps you, for it slows you down too much and breaks your concentration.


So, the argument is that it slows you down and breaks up your concentration. Well, concentration is a pretty individual matter, some may like the process of methodically looking up and recording new words. Speed is an interesting issue - if something is considerably faster, it's worth cosidering.

Another possible question is whether there is a different quality to the language knowledge acquired in a more "organic" fashion than through the text-and-dictionary approach, or whether they are just different routes to the same destination.

Iversen wrote:
Ordinary extensive reading and all kinds of listening falls outside this scheme because dictionaries are not involved. ... generally these activities are more like training in fluency than a way of acquisition of the basic elements of a language.


It does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. It may be unnecessarily difficult or downright impossible, depending on the language, to learn it just from these sorts of immersive activities, but they can be made an important part of acquisition of even fairly basic elements. If one quickly races through an introductory textbook and then dives into reading, the ensuing experience of solidifying the vocabulary and grammar one has only briefly seen, and guessing at some new elements, can be legitimately considered an integral part of the learning process, since otherwise one would've had to spend more time on the textbook. Whether one wants to do it that way is ultimately the question of effectiveness and personal preferences.

Otherwise, I am certainly no maverick and during the learning phase will always alternate such immersive experiences with reading a good grammar book and activities where I get to look up words, whether in a stand-alone dictionary, a pop-up dictionary, a glossary at the end of a reader, or a bilingual text.


Edited by frenkeld on 09 March 2007 at 10:13pm

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leosmith
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5060 days ago

2365 posts - 3803 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 29 of 39
09 March 2007 at 2:42pm | IP Logged 
Farley wrote:
The first thing that came to mind was this

Thanks. I'm trying to get familiar with as many of the super-fast vocabulary learning techniques that I can find. I've seen Iversen's list method, and a 50 word a day Japanese vocab method (can't remember the poster's name). I found this post, and realized I needed to hunt down the rest of his reading technique in order to understand it. If there is any interest, I'd be glad to start a thread that lists all these methods in one place.

Beginning May, I want to learn about 1000 Japanese words per month for about 6 months. I'm going to experiment with various methods, and try to figure out what works best for me.

My opinion of the method in the link? Very intriguing. The appeal is not having to use dictionaries or flashcards, not doing drills, and never taking anything out of context. What a dream! On the downside, it requires the learner to pick things up somewhat passively. I'm absolutely terrible at passive leaning, so it probably won't work well for me. But I will try it, perhaps with French. The bennies are too inviting not to at least give it a try.
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Farley
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5602 days ago

681 posts - 738 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: English*, GermanB1, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 30 of 39
09 March 2007 at 3:31pm | IP Logged 
leosmith wrote:
If there is any interest, I'd be glad to start a thread that lists all these methods in one place.



I'd be interested to see what you find.
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LilleOSC
Senior Member
United States
lille.theoffside.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5201 days ago

545 posts - 546 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: English*
Studies: French, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 31 of 39
16 March 2007 at 12:56pm | IP Logged 
When your reading in your target-language isn't knowing how to pronounce new words that you find important?In most cases is it okay to guess the pronunciation or should you always try to findout the correct pronunciation from the internet or somewhere?
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LilleOSC
Senior Member
United States
lille.theoffside.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5201 days ago

545 posts - 546 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: English*
Studies: French, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 32 of 39
18 March 2007 at 2:47pm | IP Logged 
LilleOSC wrote:
When your reading in your target-language isn't knowing how to pronounce new words that you find important?In most cases is it okay to guess the pronunciation or should you always try to findout the correct pronunciation from the internet or somewhere?

Can anyone answer this question?


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