How to Read and What to Read

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
Elexi
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby Elexi » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:50 pm

My advice is don't read Lord of the Rings in English for the same reasons... :lol:
The 1981 BBC radio adaption is wonderful, however.

In German, I made good progress starting with kids books like the Otfried Preussler's Hotzenplotz series or books by Michael Ende's Die unendliche Geschichte. The fact that they have easy to obtain audio was a bonus.
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iguanamon
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby iguanamon » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:28 pm

Seneca wrote:How does one go about choosing what to read when going beyond transcripts in a course, short news items, etc...? There seem to be many ideas and strategies. One being to work with very simple texts geared towards children and work your way up in time. Another to just get a very long book so you get used to one author's writing style and read it faster and with more comprehension as it goes along. Then I see different arguments for the merits of fiction versus non-fiction. On and on.
What say you all? My instincts (which don't count for much, but they are what they are) would be to go for somethng beyond children's books to work through...

You're right. There are numerous reading strategies. I've dove in head first, and, I've also started with easy reading first with some of my languages. Personally, I can't go with simple children's books. I can't tolerate them, but many others can and do and this strategy works well for them. I like reading with simpler vocabulary to start to help master the grammar. I've used folktales and the Old Testament books of the Bible- Genesis and Exodus, which also dovetail nicely with a course at the same time, but with the Bible it depends on the modernity of the translation and personal preference. The languages I have learned up to now are more closely related to English. I find that a book with a first person narrative and lots of dialog helps a lot- "Chick-Lit", along the lines of English author Sophie Kinsella, and "Robinson Crusoe" fill the bill in this regard for me, but that's more for an intermediate level.
Seneca wrote:This is all for a ways off from now as I am still working on the beginning stage (and news and such. Don't worry, iguanamon, multi-tracking makes sense to me ;) ), but I am just thinking/planning ahead. Any thoughts on the above being good, or should I aim lower and start with the Roald Dahl's and The Little Princes of the world?

I'm not worried. You can and should do what you want. "The Little Prince" is a surprisingly more difficult read than appearances would suggest. I've read it in a few languages. For me starting reading is about my tolerance level. What can I tolerate enough to keep going. Some people get frustrated at a very slow pace and having to look up too many words. Some are not bothered at all by this. Some people can tolerate children's books and others cannot. Only you know what you can and will tolerate. This is very important because in order to progress and get the benefit of reading, you must stick with it. You have to be persistent and consistent in your reading.

One strategy you haven't mentioned is parallel texts. Parallel texts often get overlooked by learners but I have found them to be quite helpful and a step along the way to full reading. As long as a good translation is available, a parallel text can save having to look up a lot of words with a simple glance to the right. Even if you do look up words, it can give you an idea of how things can be said in a different way (not one to one, plug and chug, equivalency) and an introduction to idioms. Reading a parallel text on a tablet was the way to go for me because I could enlarge the text enough to block out the English side and then reduce it when/if I needed it. A parallel text is also good for confirming guesses. There is nothing wrong with, as emk calls it, "cheating". It works- as long as you continue to move on and eventually wean yourself off of it.

You can drive yourself round the bend trying to micro-manage with what would be best to start reading. As long as you are getting good instruction on the language along with your reading, you'll be fine. I like to do it in a certain way, but that's just me. EMK's subs2srs would be a great way to learn IF you have the computer skills to enable its use. I don't. By the way, what language are you learning now? I guess you've moved on from Spanish and the last language too.
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Cavesa
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby Cavesa » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:19 pm

-I totally agree with Tarvos. She said many things better than I could.

-Count Monte Cristo is not bad at all, and the descriptions are not that long (compared with Les Misérables, another of my favourite books from that era). If it is similar in difficulty and style to the Three Musketeers, it should be great for an intermediate learner loving Alexandre Dumas. I loved the book, when I was 13 and the hero was the first man I have ever had crush on. Who cared he was fictional. And none of those representing him in movies was good enough :-D. I've read Les Trois Mousquetaires in original, and it was a surprising modern feeling read.

-Sure, there are plenty fantasy books for kids, but the genre isn't limited to them. There are plenty texts clearly for adults, with complex stories and characters and language. And as Blaurebell well said, there are many children's books with brains too :-). I believe the best way to judge a book is just by trying it out. But that requires as well the ability to simply stop reading a bad book without feeling bad about it :-D

-One of the main reasons of HP's popularity is the quite stable quality of translations. Sure, you can avoid translations completely, if you want, but as far as translated books go, the HP publishers didn't dare to present real crap. (Because they knew they were already losing part of their eager and excited public, as it was taking less time to improve your English than to wait for the fourth or fifth book. Presenting a bad translation would have pushed away another big part of the market, and they wanted us to buy the 7th book in translation too. Well, I didn't buy the last three :-D ). I wish that could be said about all the translations. For example the Czech translator of Fred Vargas made me give up on reading Czech translations almost completely :-D

-Terry Pratchett is awesome, but I think you need to be either a bit more advanced or know the books well, in order to enjoy all the jokes. I can totally recommend the Czech translations (Kulhánek is one of the brightest exceptions among translators), and the Spanish ones. I am looking forward to trying his books in German, but I don't feel ready. In the Czech translations, there are even a few more puns added and great, as Kulhánek translates the names in a totally appropriate and hilarious way (some suit the characters even better than the original ones in my opinion, and you have probably noticed how critical of translations I usually am), and he adds funny translator notes at the bottom of the page sometimes.

-Thanks for the Belgariad tip, I'l have a look. I am starting my German reading with the Song of Ice and Fire (I love the books, but it is quite a tough beginning) and Charlaine Harris, which should be much more accessible. And thanks about the warning against the LoTR in German, I was seriously considering buying the books.Can't tell you about the quality of the first Czech LoTR translation, as I haven't read it and I don't even know whether it was an "official"translation forbidden after publishing, or whether the book was translated after the ban. But the communist "literary" review of the book, published in a newspaper, is absolutely hilarious now!
.......
The one thing I wanted to say right after reading the first post:
Focusing so much on choosing the best book at each step is not necessary, in my opinion, as long as you accept the fact you'll need to read thousands and thousands pages. What are 300 "badly chosen" pages in the pile of 20000 pages? 1,5%, that is not so important. If the book is too hard, leave it for later. If it is too easy and you are learning nothing and just enjoying it, it is not much of a trouble and you'll choose a more difficult one next time. I usually strive for 20000 pages as that proved to be a good number for me (I don't stop after that, just stop counting) but of course a different high number could be better for you, that is not the point. The important thing is, that you need to read so much stuff of so many kinds, that there is no need to stress about it too much. No need to panic "but I should understand 98%! What if I understand just 95?", no need to stress too much about the next book being appropriately harder than the previous one every time.

The only thing one should worry about is having fun. If we accept that it is necessary to read a 10000/20000/50000/whatever number pages in order to get really good, we cannot turn it into torture. Either we have fun, or we'll give up, sooner or later. And having fun is very beneficial to the immersion process, I am convinced.

So, your interest in the books should be the number one lead, in my opinion.
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Tomás
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby Tomás » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:41 pm

Cavesa wrote:-Terry Pratchett is awesome, but I think you need to be either a bit more advanced or know the books well, in order to enjoy all the jokes. I can totally recommend the Czech translations (Kulhánek is one of the brightest exceptions among translators), and the Spanish ones.


Please recommend a good Pratchett book in Spanish translation.
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Finny
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby Finny » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:33 am

As lots of other folks have noted, follow your interests. When learning Spanish, I read anything I was interested in, regardless of level, but was most interested in kids' books and teen texts. It worked for me. I'm doing the same thing in French, and it's working for me here too.

For my personal reading, I'm a big fan of series due to having a continuous storyline and larger world to get sucked into. I'm currently reading the Hunger Games (all of which I've already read in Spanish). After the 1st book (have all 3), I'll either go to the second or back to Dork Diaries (have the first 5, and have read each in Spanish but only the 1st in French), or perhaps first book of the Princess Diaries (plan on buying the series if I like the 1st), or perhaps back to the Wimpy Kid series (have all 10 translated so far and have read all 10 in French, although only the first 8 in Spanish). In the mean time, alongside the kids, I'll read lots and lots of books like Zoe adore se moquer (we have about 25 from this series), La reine des neiges (with 5 more 90-pagers ordered from this series), La premiere fois que je suis nee, Choisir un p'tite bete: quel casse-tete! etc. The 40-odd books for the kids (with about 8 more on the way in the next few weeks) teach me as much as the books I buy for myself; as long as it's in the target language and I find it interesting enough to turn the pages, it's a good choice.
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby DaveBee » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:46 am

Finny wrote:For my personal reading, I'm a big fan of series due to having a continuous storyline and larger world to get sucked into.
Mr Krashen advocated 'narrow' reading (series/genre) as being particularly good for vocabulary acquisition.
There is some evidence supporting the narrow reading idea. Lamme (1976) found that good readers in English as a first language tended to read more books by a single author and books from a series, a result that many readers of this paper can identify with, former devotees of Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Bobsey Twins. More recently, Cho and Krashen (1994, 1995) reported considerable enthusiasm for reading and substantial vocabulary development among adult second language acquirers who read books in the Sweet Valley series; readers rapidly moved from Sweet Valley Kids (second grade level) to Sweet Valley Twins (fourth grade level) to Sweet Valley High (fifth and sixth grade level). Several readers in this study had never read a book in English for pleasure before, but became fanatic Sweet Valley fans.
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Finny
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby Finny » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:48 am

DaveBee wrote:
Finny wrote:For my personal reading, I'm a big fan of series due to having a continuous storyline and larger world to get sucked into.
Mr Krashen advocated 'narrow' reading (series/genre) as being particularly good for vocabulary acquisition.
There is some evidence supporting the narrow reading idea. Lamme (1976) found that good readers in English as a first language tended to read more books by a single author and books from a series, a result that many readers of this paper can identify with, former devotees of Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Bobsey Twins. More recently, Cho and Krashen (1994, 1995) reported considerable enthusiasm for reading and substantial vocabulary development among adult second language acquirers who read books in the Sweet Valley series; readers rapidly moved from Sweet Valley Kids (second grade level) to Sweet Valley Twins (fourth grade level) to Sweet Valley High (fifth and sixth grade level). Several readers in this study had never read a book in English for pleasure before, but became fanatic Sweet Valley fans.


Ha, I remember that article now that you mention it! Yes, I'm very much in agreement with Krashen re: narrow reading and the extensive amount he's written on free voluntary reading in general.
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Elexi
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby Elexi » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:09 am

Krashen reads Star Trek novels for his language learning. Lots of them. I disagree with most of his theories, but consuming lots of Star Trek in other languages is one area where I concur with him :lol:
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby blaurebell » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:37 am

Elexi wrote:I disagree with most of his theories, but consuming lots of Star Trek in other languages is one area where I concur with him :lol:


Watching all of Star Trek over and over was the basis of my English listening comprehension. Re-watching all of it once a year is one of my "bad habits". After watching all of it 5 times I've started to watch it dubbed now. I've only ever read one of the books though. There are just too many of those!
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Re: How to Read and What to Read

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:03 pm

blaurebell wrote:
Elexi wrote:I disagree with most of his theories, but consuming lots of Star Trek in other languages is one area where I concur with him :lol:


Watching all of Star Trek over and over was the basis of my English listening comprehension. Re-watching all of it once a year is one of my "bad habits". After watching all of it 5 times I've started to watch it dubbed now. I've only ever read one of the books though. There are just too many of those!


Do you mean Star Trek the original (first) TV series, or do you mean all of the various (3? 4? 5?) series?
Babylon 5 (though for me the first year was mostly rather dull) and Deep Space Nine (unless we count that as a Star Trek series) might be suitable, too, if they're available.
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