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Extensive Reading Approaches

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 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
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chobbs
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United States
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35 posts - 46 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 1 of 18
2015 August 22 at 11:02pm | IP Logged 
I am at the point in my Esperanto studies where I am wanting to read some of this giant pile of books I have on my desk. I see many references to extensive reading, but am a little bit unclear on the ideal approach to use at this stage or even which benefits each approach offers if one can't be said to be ideal.

When I read along to an audio book I often find that the understanding of what I read comes a few sentences later in the material. I am usually able to follow along okay, but nowhere near as much as if I read without audio and take my time with each sentence.

Is the usual mode for extensive reading to read a lot of material but slowly enough so that you fully comprehend the material? Or is it more along the lines of how one reads while listening to an audio book, or reading aloud, and you just should understand whatever comes to you as you plow forward?

Obviously, some things need to be studied intensively, but it seems like a lot of material falls into a sort of middle ground where it isn't that 98% comprehensible number that gets thrown about, but it isn't unfamiliar either. I don't know how to even find material that comprehensible.

For example, at Lernu I am almost finished reading Gerda Malaperis - however, despite knowing all of the vocab listed at the start of the chapters, I struggle to understand more than just the gist of the chapter at the rate of simply following the audio or reading aloud. Some of this I am sure comes down to me still needing to translate to verify meaning, but if I slow down to fully understand each sentence is it going to drag out this phase?

Can anybody shed light on the effectiveness of each approach for somebody at this low intermediate type of level?

- Chris
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Serpent
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 Message 2 of 18
2015 August 23 at 12:36am | IP Logged 
This wikia article might help.

Honestly, I can get bored if I understand 98% effortlessly. Prof Argüelles says 80% is enough, for purely extensive reading. And if you are passionate about the content, you can be fine with 40-60%, perhaps reaching 80% with dictionary lookups.

You might like this post by emk, btw.
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chobbs
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United States
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35 posts - 46 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 3 of 18
2015 August 23 at 5:54am | IP Logged 
Thanks Serpent. I have previously read both of those links, and it definitely helped clarify the variety of ways to slide between extensive and intensive reading. I am sure my initial post lacks some clarity. I know it took me awhile to formulate what I was asking and it still didn't come out quite as I intended.

My main question lies more in the realm of speed I guess ... while extensive reading: is it better to read along at a natural clip and just pick up and comprehend what you can, or should one read slow enough to absorb everything possible while still avoiding dictionary lookups? I am thinking specifically about those words that you know but that don't jump immediately to mind - in extensive reading should we be slowing down enough to work those out?

Maybe a little more detail would help me clarify another reason why I ask ...

The 150+ hours of L-R I did for French was helpful, but I felt as if I was missing a lot of small details in the language. I have a much stronger grammar base with my Esperanto than I did with French, but at this point I am lacking the massive exposure that I received with my French study. I am concerned that if I read in a similar manner to how I did L-R for French, that many of the small details won't get absorbed. However, if they aren't likely to be absorbed with extensive reading anyway, then it seems it would be better to plow forward at that faster rate.

Not sure if all that helped or not, but I appreciate advice from anybody who has been through this process of bringing a language to fluency and can shed light on this process for me.

- Chris
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Cavesa
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 Message 4 of 18
2015 August 23 at 1:29pm | IP Logged 
Why not both? :-)
Basically, it is a compromise between the two. Go with what suits you, what do you find fun. You should strive for enjoying the process because extensive reading takes a lot of time, it is not a method for those that give up easily.

Words you understand from the context but that don't come up easily to your mind, whether in active use or as translations: I found out patience pays off. The more important a word is, the more often you'll encounter it. During 10000 pages (the original super challenge), you will most probably encounter vast majority of the vocabulary you are likely to need in various contexts and sentences. You will naturally strengthen the familiarity with the words.

You will absorb the grammar as well, in a natural way, develop the feel for what is wrong and what is correct, you will get tons of examples to majority of the grammar points.

That said, if you have only learnt French through L-R, you might still want to try a normal grammar book to help you sort out the grammar and put more order in your knowledge. Grammaire Progressive series is very popular not only on htlal and user friendly for learners with various styles.
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chobbs
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United States
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 5 of 18
2015 August 23 at 4:11pm | IP Logged 
Yeah, both is basically what I have been doing. Going through the text at speed the first time, then again in a slower manner - sometimes a paragraph at a time and sometimes a chapter at a time. Occasionally doing the reverse and going slowly the first time through. However, it is fairly time consuming to do the reading in this manner. If only one of those activities is going to bring about benefit then I would prefer to stick with that version and spend the time I saved on more of the version bringing the results. :)

As for my French, it is on hold at the moment while I and the family complete this transition to Esperanto as our home language. Once I have Esperanto at a reasonable level I will be returning to French to fill in those grammar holes and hopefully sort out some of my listening problems with that language.

- Chris
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geoffw
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 Message 6 of 18
2015 August 23 at 4:50pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
This
wikia article might help.


Honestly, I can get bored if I understand 98% effortlessly. Prof Argüelles says 80% is enough, for
purely extensive reading. And if you are passionate about the content, you can be fine with 40-60%,
perhaps reaching 80% with dictionary lookups.

You might like this post
by emk
, btw.


I'm not sure what your source for the Professor saying that, but he says 98% in this
video, starting at about 17:40.

His reasoning seems to be that he assumes you are reading an unknown text and will get bored due
to lack of total comprehension with lower coverage. If you do what I've done, such as rereading a
known book in translation, I don't think his reasoning applies.

He later also says that he doesn't like my strategy either, having tried it himself, because it becomes
boring as well. I have come to that point as well, but his objection is still based on boredom, and not
whether it CAN work.

I agree with your sentence that "if you are passionate about the content, you can be fine with 40-
60%," noting that Prof. A. does not appear to recommend that approach, because he doesn't believe
that you'll continue be passionate under those circumstances. Use your own judgement about what
works for you.
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geoffw
Triglot
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United States
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 Message 7 of 18
2015 August 23 at 4:52pm | IP Logged 
With Esperanto in particular, a huge amount of vocabulary can be deduced by understanding how
Esperanto produces words from combining roots and affixes. So for Esperanto extensive reading, I
think you need to go slowly enough that you can unpack words where you know the root, by
analyzing the affixes used and the sentence context.
3 persons have voted this message useful



YnEoS
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 Message 8 of 18
2015 August 23 at 5:07pm | IP Logged 
I believe when Professor Argüelles says 98% comprehension he means 98% comprehension after factoring words that can be figured out like through transparency or context. So he doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as "98% effortlessly"

So for example right now I'm reading a French translation of Harry Potter. Because I've read it before I've artificially boosted my comprehension because I know the story. I probably don't have 98% or 1 in 50 unknown words ahead of time, but after using context and transparency, there are about 1 in 50 words that I have to use the dictionary on my kindle to look up if I think its worth looking up. This is a pretty comfortable experience, I'm regularly learning from context and I don't have to use the dictionary too often to interrupt my flow.

If I had 80% comprehension after context/transparency or 1 in 5 words I need a dictionary to learn, I could not read the book enjoyably. That would mean I would need to look up a word almost every sentence, which would get frustrating very quickly I think. 80% comprehension before transparency/context might be reasonable depending on the language/book.


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