Selecting extensive reading materials

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paz
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Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby paz » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:44 pm

Hey folks!

How do you select extensive reading materials? I would like to build up my vocabulary in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese and I was wondering how to choose the next books.

Do you follow the 98% rule? How do you determine the vocabulary size? And how do you determine the vocabulary size of a book?

Thanks!
Andrea

ps: I've already watched the videos by Prof. Arguelles, and I would like to know your strategies, especially with languages other than English
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby Soffía » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:07 pm

Pick something you'd like to read, start reading it. If it's too hard, you'll probably get stuck and decide to save the book for later. If there are bits you don't understand, you can just skip over them and see if you can still get the gist. If it's just right... enjoy!

This may seem terribly simplistic, but honestly it works. I started with romance novels, where the language is about as simple and predictable as you can get in adult books. YA novels are great too. Really just think about what you might enjoy, and give it a try.
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby Finny » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:14 pm

Soffía wrote:Pick something you'd like to read, start reading it. If it's too hard, you'll probably get stuck and decide to save the book for later. If there are bits you don't understand, you can just skip over them and see if you can still get the gist. If it's just right... enjoy!

This may seem terribly simplistic, but honestly it works. I started with romance novels, where the language is about as simple and predictable as you can get in adult books. YA novels are great too. Really just think about what you might enjoy, and give it a try.


Everything she said. When learning Spanish, I learned as much from books for preschoolers as I did from books for adults; page for page, I probably learned the most from books for middle schoolers and teenagers, as they were the most likely to use lots of dialogue and idiomatic expressions.
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby reineke » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:19 pm

paz wrote:Hey folks!

How do you select extensive reading materials? I would like to build up my vocabulary in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese and I was wondering how to choose the next books.

Do you follow the 98% rule? How do you determine the vocabulary size? And how do you determine the vocabulary size of a book?


No. I weigh "interesting vs. "hard" or "useful" but I don't even follow that rule. I enjoy comics and children's literature so it's not hard for me to ladder difficulty levels. I'm saving Don Quixote for later even though it's interesting enough to justify the effort. I know I'll enjoy it better that way.

Given your language combinations and your current proficiency levels you're golden.
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby Sizen » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:39 pm

I've posted this elsewhere before, but I think that there are three important guidelines you might want to follow if your goal is to enjoy and get something out of extensive reading. You should try to base your choice of reading materials on these criteria, in my opinion.

1. You need to enjoy the content you're reading. Obviously, you can extensively read less enjoyable material too, especially if you need to brush up on some technical vocabulary for work in a foreign language, but this is usually unsustainable for most people learning for fun. If you want to get the most out of your learning and aren't particularly concerned about the type of language you learn, do whatever it takes to find enjoyable material. Don't even try to read stuff that only barely keeps your attention if you can easily find another book to read. If you lose interest in something that you were originally enjoying, don't hesitate to drop it.

2. You need to understand the content you're reading. This doesn't mean you need to already know everything in the book, but you should be able to either already understand the material to an acceptable level or be able to make the material comprehensible to yourself. The less comprehensible the text, the more intensive your reading will become, so be careful to choose a book at a level where you won't burn-out in a few days or weeks. Don't choose material so easy that you lose interest in it, either.

And while this has no bearing on your choice of book...

3. Be attentive. Don't expect to learn anything if you don't put any effort into remembering what you read. The greater the effort you put into your reading, the better your results. You will, of course, absorb some language seemingly effortlessly, but the extra effort is worth it in my experience.

And finally, if you're not already a big reader, try a bit of everything. You might be surprised by what you find interesting.
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby Tomás » Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:16 pm

I don't like novels and cannot finish them. I like comic books, news, and academic articles (history, anthropology, etc.).
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby paz » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:03 am

Thank you for the answers! Let me reformulate the questions, very briefly.

I watched some videos by Prof. Arguelles, and read some articles by Prof. Paul Nation. I would like to follow their advices for extensive reading, basically:

1) as Sizen wrote, you need to enjoy what you are reading. According to Arguelles and Nation, to actually enjoy a book you need to understand at least 98% of the vocabulary.

2) so, as Sizen wrote again (thank you Sizen :D) you need to understand the content you're reading, at a precise level. You won't actually enjoy the reading process if you don't understand at least the 98% of the vocabulary. It's very interesting, in this video Prof Arguelles says, I don't remember at what point, that if we don't understand enough, we won't be able to follow the story and we will lose interest. And personally, I totally agree with this statement.

3) so, the next step, as suggested by Arguelles and Nation, is to determine the vocabulary size - in terms of approximate number of word families known - of the learner. To do so, they use a vocabulary size test.

4) then we have to select appropriate materials, that is to say texts that provide 98% textual coverage. The learner should read extensively at that level until the percentage of unknown words drops perceptibly. To calculate this percentage, they use a Text Analysis software.
Example: we know 7000 word families. We'll select a text whose vocabulary covers, for the 98% the 7000 threshold.

The problem is that, the point 3 and point 4 tools are not avaible for every language. So, how do you do?

For the moment I am thinking about:
A) Bilingual books, that are not so common
B) Graded books, that are quite expensive

I would like to know, since we have the possibility of finding huge amounts of free ebooks online, if you know a way to categorize books for vocabulary size.
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby Brun Ugle » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:40 pm

I find that the 98% rule really doesn't matter. I'm currently reading something with loads of unfamiliar words on each page, and I'm still enjoying it and able to follow the story without problems. I did the same thing with listening. I started watching a telenovela some months ago and my listening comprehension was very low, but I was so fascinated by the show that I watched anyway. By the end I could understand almost ever word without difficulty.

I would say enjoyment of the book is much more important than meeting that 98% goal. If you can follow and enjoy the story, you will learn new words almost by magic.
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby maryy_smith » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:46 pm

R ead quickly and
E njoyably with
A dequate comprehension so they
D on’t need a dictionary
:D :D
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Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby Hank » Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:57 pm

I don't follow the 98% rule. I read whatever interests me. When I first started reading chapter books, I would buy a copy in my TL and another copy in my NL. That way I had a quick reference for unknown vocabulary or points of grammar. It worked very well for me as long as both copies follow each other fairly closely. I did read one book, originally written in English, where the Spanish translator took a lot of liberties with the translation.
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