How do You Use Native Material?

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haziz
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How do You Use Native Material?

Postby haziz » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:36 pm

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?
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tastyonions
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby tastyonions » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:52 pm

The majority of the time I read or listen for enjoyment, just as I would in English. But at least once or twice a week I try to listen more intensively, noting:

(1) unknown words and expressions
(2) other interesting words and expressions that I understand but have not yet used actively
(3) grammar that I fail to understand or that contradicts my expectations in some way.

If I am missing out on whole sentences every minute, then I figure that the material is probably too hard for my current level and save it for later.
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby iguanamon » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:27 pm

When beginning to use native materials, there is frustration because you are not going to understand everything. You can't. You have to accept that. You can't just dive in and start lapping it up. Try to pick something and work through it intensively- not five different somethings, but one something. That can be a book or a TV series or the reading and listening magazine Veinte Mundos. Veinte Mundos is level appropriate for intermediate learners. There are hover over definitions for highlighted words and audio- all of which is free to download. The articles are varied with a wide variety of topics about cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. If you were to work through these for a few months it would help greatly with reading. listening and new vocabulary.

Veinte Mundos is just one option, but a pretty good one that not enough Spanish-learners take advantage of. You can also work through a dubbed US TV series, which is harder but doable- see emk's log. After working through something, it gets easier. Still, you have to do it consistently and not just "every now and then".

Did you notice? I said "months". That's right, it's going to take time. This can be hard to accept but the language is big and you can't learn it all at once. You have built a foundation. You now have to stud it up and add bricks, mortar, dry wall, plumbing wiring and a roof before you can live comfortably in the house.
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PolyglotMaya
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby PolyglotMaya » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:45 pm

Everything igaunamon said.

Also, I assume that there are movies and TV shows in English that you love, right? Ones you gladly re-watch because you love them so much? Try to get the Spanish versions of those TV shows and movies. You will already know the plot, so it will be much easier to relax and enjoy the show. And it will be easier to pick up new words and phrases, because you already know (or at least have an idea of) whae t's being said.

The other thing that I would recommend - and this is just a recommendation, you can do whatever you like - is to not be so fixated on material for children. If you really enjoy it, that's one thing, but don't force yourself to listen to/watch children's stuff just because it's supposed to be easier to understand. Unless you are extraordinarily patient (I know I'm not), you will probably end up hating the material and possibly even the language. You won't feel like immersing yourself in it more because you won't (don't?) really care about what those children's shows are saying anyway. Try to find things that genuinely interest you, no matter the level.

I know that it might be harder to understand regular material, but as iguanamon said, it's going to be a while before you understand everything anyway. Learning a language really takes time. The best thing you can do for yourself is to try to follow your own interests the whole time.

If it helps, you can always try to look for things - podcasts, youtube videos etc - about topics you're already knowledgeable about. That should also make it a bit easier and feel closer to home.

EDIT: I forgot to mention music! You can find songs you like and read the lyrics, looking up any words or expressions that are new to you, then play the song at the same time as reading over the lyrics. After that, any time you listen to the same song again, you'll be re-inforcing the new vocabulary.

Music isn't ideal, because it distorts the natural flow/rythm of language, but it is a fun and easy way to increase your vocabulary.
Last edited by PolyglotMaya on Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby PolyglotMaya » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:58 pm

As for myself - I don't know if this will help in any way, but I can provide an example of something I'm currently doing.

I'm currently watching the show Nana in Japanese. (It's kind of like Sex and the City except a million times better.)

First, I watch an episode with English subtitles.

Then, I download the entire episode in mp3 format (so that it's audio only) onto my phone. (If you don't already know about it: www dot listentoyoutube dot com to download youtube videos in mp3 format)

Then, when I'm going about my business throughout the day, I re-listen to the episodes on my phone. I love the show enough to do this over and over again.

The whole time, I'm noting down words and phrases that are new to me or that I want to study. If I'm watching the episodes for the first time on my computer, I just enter things directly into Anki; if I'm out somewhere and just re-listening to something on my phone, I write them down in a Notepad App on my phone.
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haziz
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby haziz » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:44 pm

PolyglotMaya wrote:Everything igaunamon said.
..........................
The other thing that I would recommend - and this is just a recommendation, you can do whatever you like - is to not be so fixated on material for children. If you really enjoy it, that's one thing, but don't force yourself to listen to/watch children's stuff just because it's supposed to be easier to understand. Unless you are extraordinarily patient (I know I'm not), you will probably end up hating the material and possibly even the language. You won't feel like immersing yourself in it more because you won't (don't?) really care about what those children's shows are saying anyway. Try to find things that genuinely interest you, no matter the level.
....................


Actually I picked most of the material because it does interest me.

My current stash consists of:

1. Difusión graded Spanish readers. I am currently reading a brief biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez aimed at an A2 Spanish level.
2. Think Spanish Magazine. Not sure what level it would be considered to be at, possibly A2 or B1 but it has many word and phrase definitions translated into English on the side. I also suspect they deliberately use a lot of English cognates. It is aimed at Spanish learners.
3. Radio Ambulante. Used mainly for listening. I listen first while looking at the English transcript, then a second time looking at the Spanish transcript. In some ways, it is not that different from what I am doing initially with Assimil, though I do it with more repetitions with Assimil. I also try to listen later, obviously without the transcript, in the car. These are native Latin American Spanish speakers speaking at a normal native pace, so it can still be occasionally difficult to follow, but is a lot easier after I have looked at the transcripts at the beginning.
4. The one children's book I am using is Horacio Quiroga's Cuentos de la selva. It is his answer to Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Tales. Written in 1918, it is not particularly easy. I do have the advantage however of having an English translation of the book if necessary, and have also imported it into Lingq.
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby Wurstmann » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:58 pm

When I read books in Chinese, I mark every unknown word or expression and put it into Anki later.
Most of the time I'm reading on my tablet so I can simply look up words by tapping on them.
I do not reread the book after I learned the vocabulary, even though that would be most certainly a good idea,
but I just can't do it; too boring!
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby PolyglotMaya » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:15 pm

haziz wrote:Actually I picked most of the material because it does interest me.


That's good. I've previously made the mistake of forcing myself to watch kid's shows, thinking they would be simpler... except that I wasn't actually interested in them. It was a disaster.
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby Stefan » Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:28 pm

Reading: LWT is my favourite tool within language learning. It's basically a reading software with built in dictionary that keeps track of all the words you know. When you begin, all the words in the text are marked in blue and when you translate a word with the built in dictionary - it either goes green or red depending on if you know the word. When you import a new text, it will remember the words from previous texts and show a percentage of how many words you already know. You never stop and think - do I know this word or not? You either translate it (blue), hover with the mouse to see the translation (red) or you know it and just move on. You can also order unknown words after frequency and export it to Anki for practice.

Listening: I've watched several seasons of Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men in German but never felt like I progressed. I need a transcript so I just don't "turn off" and mentally skip words I don't know. The best method is probably to use Anki and hear the audio before turning the card and see the correct sentence. You can cut a random podcast with transcript or use subs2srs to get lines from your favourite TV show / movie.
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Re: How do You Use Native Material?

Postby solocricket » Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:51 pm

Novels are my absolute favorite native materials (I really admire the polyglot Kató Lomb, and she used novels pretty heavily). I tend to just jump right into native materials at the beginning, because I like to do immersion-based learning. I enjoy listening to senseless babble, so I have no problem playing talk radio all the time. I think with any native materials, your focus has to shift from "Did I understand the whole thing?" to "Did I pick out a word or two?" or "Did I sort of get the gist?" Because you'll definitely pick out a couple of words. And then those couple of words will give you the context to get a couple more words, and it builds and builds. I like intensive reading (reading with a dictionary) from time to time, but I mostly just ignore a lot of words I don't know and go for a really broad gist. It might seem like you'll never gain any knowledge that way, but I'm always pleasantly surprised at how much I've picked up! :) Good luck with your stash of native materials!
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