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emk
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 17 of 44
24 August 2014 at 6:18pm | IP Logged 
montmorency wrote:
On the subject of Harry Potter, I agree. It is not a particularly easy book. It is not
a beginner's book.

According to the publisher, Harry Potter is written at a fifth grade level. For those of you outside the United States, that corresponds to a 10 or 11 year old. Book seven is two grade levels harder. At this age, a native speaker supposedly has a vocabulary of 5,500 to 12,500 words, depending on their age and how much they read.

According to the same publisher, Green Eggs and Ham is written at a second grade level, and the book only uses 50 easy words. So you can obviously find much easier books out there. :-)

(Mind you, I never took the "grade level" of books seriously as a child, and I'm not about to start now. I've always read what looked interesting.)

I think Harry Potter has two big advantages for language learners:

1. There's a recent generation of kids (and young adults) which contains a large number of Harry Potter fans. These folks will have a huge advantage working with this particular text, because they know it well.

2. Harry Potter is one of the few, well-known series which is legally available as DRM-free ebooks and audiobooks in a variety of languages, all in one central place.

Personally, I think Harry Potter is appropriate for strong B1 students and up, at least in a Romance language. If you're much below that, it's probably going to be a bit of a slog, unless you find some creative way to boost your comprehension, or you have a high tolerance for skimming.

Edited by emk on 24 August 2014 at 6:20pm

7 persons have voted this message useful



Arnaud25
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France
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 Message 18 of 44
24 August 2014 at 8:48pm | IP Logged 
I've tried to read Harry Potter in russian but it was too difficult, I gave up rapidly for the humoristic short stories of Tchekhov that I find very entertaining and well written.

I've also tried to read Sherlock Holmes (I've learned English with him, he's a very old friend of mine :)): I was surprised by the russian translation that is very far from the original, imho. But I've found the reading of Sherlock in russian easier than Harry Potter. Perhaps because the language is more classic and that I know all the stories very well, I don't know exactly.

It's not only a question of vocabulary and of number of unknown words but also of the grammatical structures used by the translators. If the grammar is too difficult, no matter how many words are used in the book, I'll probably be rapidly disgusted and will stop reading.
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montmorency
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United Kingdom
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Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Danish, Welsh

 
 Message 19 of 44
25 August 2014 at 1:20am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:



2. Harry Potter is one of the few, well-known series which is legally available as DRM-
free ebooks and
audiobooks in a
variety of languages, all in one central place.



Interesting. I had never actually looked at that site before.
Sadly (I guess, for Stelle), no Spanish audiobook, although fortunately for me, there
is German and Danish. (I hardly expected there to be Welsh).


1 person has voted this message useful



montmorency
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 Message 20 of 44
25 August 2014 at 1:28am | IP Logged 
Arnaud25 wrote:
I've tried to read Harry Potter in russian but it was too difficult,
I gave up rapidly for the humoristic short stories of Tchekhov that I find very
entertaining and well written.

I've also tried to read Sherlock Holmes (I've learned English with him, he's a very old
friend of mine :)): I was surprised by the russian translation that is very far from
the original, imho. But I've found the reading of Sherlock in russian easier than Harry
Potter. Perhaps because the language is more classic and that I know all the stories
very well, I don't know exactly.

It's not only a question of vocabulary and of number of unknown words but also of the
grammatical structures used by the translators. If the grammar is too difficult, no
matter how many words are used in the book, I'll probably be rapidly disgusted and will
stop reading.


I read every single Sherlock Holmes short story and the long novels as a teenager, and
then not afterwards, for years. I happened to read the long novels again recently, and
was pleasantly surprised at the high quality (IMHO) of the English. I had expected to
find it a little hackneyed, but it wasn't at all, and also not too archaic. I'm glad
you had a good experience learning English along with it.
2 persons have voted this message useful



robarb
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Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
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Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
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 Message 21 of 44
28 August 2014 at 8:56pm | IP Logged 
montmorency wrote:

I have cited on several occasions, what are probably well-known video lectures by
Professor Arguelles, where he talks about various comprehension levels, regarding
extensive reading. 95% would be an absolute minimum, but 98% is a more ideal minimum.
He is talking about extensive unassisted reading, however.   


These ninety-something percentages seem high, but suppose you read for two hours at 98% vocabulary
coverage, going through 60 pages, at 250 words per page. That's 250*0.02*60 = 300 unknown words. Whew!
That's a fine level to be reading at, but not really all that easy.

When I'm trying to read extensively without any dictionary lookups at all, I actually prefer to be at 99.5% or more-
something like one unknown word per page. That way, I won't get tired after an hour- perfect for air travel, etc.
Of course, it's hard to find prose texts with 99.5% coverage at beginner level, but it applies mostly for continuing
to read easy children's books even when you can tackle full-on literary novels with some effort at 98%.

I'd like to recommend a relatively new easy book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It's got lots of translations and,
despite being a decent length, it's written in a clear, direct, basic style. And it's realistic, so no wacky nonce
words that might throw some people off like in other great options like HP or Dahl.

Edited by robarb on 28 August 2014 at 8:57pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Expugnator
Hexaglot
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Brazil
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 Message 22 of 44
28 August 2014 at 10:59pm | IP Logged 
Most of my trouble with Georgian lies on not observing this rule. Most of it is motivated by lack of appropriate resources, at least regarding textbooks. You may go through all the textbooks available and still fail to learn each of the A's and the B1 levels due to lots of gaps or just plain bad textbooks. Now I know I should have tried to 'cheat' more by finding books for children (which I may find at the online bookstores, not sure about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the like, though), and by reading extensively only for a long time. All in all, I think one shouldn't be too demanding when it comes to less-common languages. Even when you are re-reading a book you already read in your native language, it doesn't mean its text in the TL will be over 90% of comprehension. At least not for adult novels.

How do I remedy this? By picking up shorter texts to read intensively, probably with translations, like the ones from Radio Free Liberty, and by trying to get hold of books really aimed for childre. Alice in the Wonderland was still way above my head when I decided to get books, and maybe it still is, but I may find Georgian books for Georgian children manageable.
1 person has voted this message useful



montmorency
Diglot
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United Kingdom
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 Message 23 of 44
29 August 2014 at 11:43am | IP Logged 
Expugnator wrote:
Even when you are re-reading a book you already read in your
native language, it doesn't mean its text in the TL will be over 90% of comprehension.
At least not for adult novels.


Absolutely not, as I have found with the Welsh version of Harry Potter 1. Even with the
English original open next to it, I still need to go to the dictionary for some words
to find out exactly what they mean, for the simple reason that the translator has
reworded the passage to sound better in the language in question. And since I'm reading
the book in order to pick up vocabulary (and not primarily in order to understand it,
since I can do that in English), I go and look up the words, or record them in some way
for later look-up.



1 person has voted this message useful



montmorency
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3342 days ago

2371 posts - 3675 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Danish, Welsh

 
 Message 24 of 44
29 August 2014 at 11:49am | IP Logged 
robarb wrote:


These ninety-something percentages seem high, but suppose you read for two hours at 98%
vocabulary
coverage, going through 60 pages, at 250 words per page. That's 250*0.02*60 = 300
unknown words. Whew!
That's a fine level to be reading at, but not really all that easy.

Yes, on average, 5 unknown words per page, which could be enough to be frustrating, and
may be too many to be able to guess them from context.

Quote:

When I'm trying to read extensively without any dictionary lookups at all, I actually
prefer to be at 99.5% or more-
something like one unknown word per page. That way, I won't get tired after an hour-
perfect for air travel, etc.
Of course, it's hard to find prose texts with 99.5% coverage at beginner level, but it
applies mostly for continuing
to read easy children's books even when you can tackle full-on literary novels
with some effort at 98%.

Or appropriate-level graded readers, if you can find them. Or books specifically
written for adult learners (of which there are a few, fortunately for me, in Welsh).

You make a good point. That 98% is probably really an absolute minimum for truly
unassisted reading, and the higher above it, the better.

Quote:

I'd like to recommend a relatively new easy book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It's
got lots of translations and,
despite being a decent length, it's written in a clear, direct, basic style. And it's
realistic, so no wacky nonce
words that might throw some people off like in other great options like HP or Dahl.


Thank you. I noticed Spanish, Catalan, and German versions, as well as English, in
amazon.co.uk.




1 person has voted this message useful



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