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How Do You Use Native Material?

  Tags: Resources
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
Bilingual Triglot
United States
Joined 2227 days ago

28 posts - 37 votes
Speaks: Arabic (Written), Arabic (Egyptian)*, English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 1 of 2
04 January 2016 at 2:49pm | IP Logged 
As I try to progress beyond learning materials and onto "native" material, I find myself uncertain of how to
use them! Most of the "native" material is really in simplified form, either aimed at children or consisting of
graded readers with a lot of hand-holding. Some are in the form of podcasts with transcripts in both
English and Spanish such as Radio Ambulante. Even then I find many of them above my level. Some of the
material, I have imported into Lingq, so I effectively have a running dictionary (something which I
sometimes find distracting), but a lot of it is in good old paper form and I am reading directly.

While reading this material, I do usually understand most of what is being said, or at least get the gist of
the material. I do often however encounter entire paragraphs where I do not "get" what is being said. I also
can often recognize the stem or infinitive of a verb but often can not state what tense or mood it is in. I can
often guess since it is sometimes clear if the text is discussing past events and I can sometimes guess if
the subjunctive is being used, however I find it more interesting to just keep going and try to read the
material as if I am reading English, with my main interest being in enjoying the material rather than
agonizing over the sentence structure or the grammar.

I suspect that there is no "right" way to use native material, however I would like to poll the members of
this forum. Do you stop and look up every incomprehensible word? Do you dissect each verb for it's tense
and then recite it's conjugation in that tense? Do you just read the material for your enjoyment, the same
way you would in your mother tongue?

How do you use "native" materials?

Edited by haziz on 04 January 2016 at 2:52pm

2 persons have voted this message useful

Super Polyglot
Joined 5068 days ago

9078 posts - 16471 votes 
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 2 of 2
04 January 2016 at 5:46pm | IP Logged 
I would first and foremost distinguish between extensive and intensive activities. When I do intenstive activities then I want in principle to understand every single word, expression and construction in the source, and in practice that means that I have to work with short texts or short sound examples plus dictionaries, translations and grammatical tools (including 'green sheet's with concise overviews written by myself). That's where I get my words and my grammatical facts.

If I know enough words and grammatical facts I can understand texts and speech samples on the fly - at least if I accept that I don't have to catch everything. The important thing with such extensive activities is not to learn new words o constructions, but to train my use of the things I already know - or in other words: to work on developing fluency at the expense of completeness and perfection. OK, I may pick up a word or expression here and there, but if I have to think about each and every unknown elements then I loose the momentum and the whole idea with the exercise is lost.

If I have problems finding sufficiently easy materials for extensive activities then it may help first to work intensively through some of the material I want to use extensively - that will often give enough of the special vocabulary in a given source to make the use of the whole lot comprehensible. Otherwise that specific source must wait until I can handle it.

One special trick here is to 'listen like a blood hound', i.e. listening only for words and word boundaries, but without any attempt to guess the meaning of anything - including the general meaning (imagin a bloodhound following a trail without caring about the surroundings). Unless you can hear the words and separate them in your mind while listening then it has little sense to start guessing about their meaning so it is worth trying out this special technique if you only catch a few words or endings here and there.

Edited by Iversen on 04 January 2016 at 5:51pm

4 persons have voted this message useful

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