At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:33 pm

There is always the Bible. Super easy to make a bilingual reader and you probably are at least somewhat familiar with the main parts of the story…

https://www.bible.com/bible/921/GEN.1.FPB
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby Cavesa » Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:45 pm

acorngalaxy wrote:I'm reaching the halfway mark in my Greek course and I am starting to get familiar with the structure of Modern Greek and I would like to start reading on the side to exponentially increase my vocabulary. However, when I open news sites like CNN Greece, I literally don't understand anything.0%. It's different from Romance languages where I can at least rely on similarities to get, at worst, 60% understanding. Here, I can barely finish reading a paragraph and accumulate 30 words and I'm burned out for the day.

I don't think there's stuff like easy news as well- Greek is an unpopular and small language. Besides, I really want to read native-level content right from the get go. So yes, I refuse to use anything that has "dumbed-down" language. I want something a la harsh reality.

Where do I even start? Am I supposed to brute force this crap or something? 100-150 words/day from each article? How am I even supposed to start reading in a language that is quite distant from any other language that I know?

(Pardon my French.)


I can see several options. You probably know I read a lot in my target languages, if you've noticed any of my logs (if not: yes, I read a lot). And while they are FIGS+English, I think my experience is valid here, because my native Czech is definitely not as close to them, as if a French native learns Spanish or English.

1.you want native content. Good. Natives consume translations too. Get something you know. You can even read the two versions back to back. Or at least profit from the familiarity. People use Harry Potter for this reason (it is one of the main reasons) but it is far from the only thing. English books get translated a lot into the smaller languages, all the genres, even non fiction.

2.pick easier original things. such as easier non fiction, popular science, self help books, some books for older kids, and so on. News are not necessarily the easiest choice, contrary to popular belief. For example natural sciences tend to have a lot of international vocabulary (some of it coming from Ancient Greek), have a fairly limited vocab (compared to some other fields), less complex grammar used to express stuff, and an enthusiast can adapt themselves real quick.

3.either intensive reading, therefore srsing those 30 words a paragraph for some time, with this torture leading to much better results in a matter of weeks or months, or you can just get a large vocab list (or a dictionary) and memorize it upfront.
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby Kraut » Fri Jan 28, 2022 12:19 am

Look at what Google can do for you. The text is a little hotel review in Greek from Tripadvisor, which is the level and type of source I would use to learn current spoken Greek as a beginner.

https://www.tripadvisor.de/Hotel_Review ... erlin.html

1. Original text in Greek
Μειναμε στο ξενοδοχειο για 3 νυχτες και οι εντυπωσεις ειναι ομορφες! Καλη τοποθεσια με ευρυχωρα και καθαρα δωματια. Το προσωπικο αρκετα φιλοξενο και φιλικο. Το πρωινο ηταν σχετικα μεγαλο και ποιοτικο! Ηταν μια πολυ καλη εμπειρια, περασαμε πολυ ωραια και θα σας ξαναερθουμε.

2. Audio below the text in Google Translate, I don't know how good this is.

3. A transcript in Latin script, I have no idea for which L1 language this is made and how this relates to a phonetic transcript:

Meiname sto xenodocheio gia 3 nychtes kai oi entyposeis einai omorfes! Kali topothesia me evrychora kai kathara domatia. To prosopiko arketa filoxeno kai filiko. To proino itan schetika megalo kai poiotiko! Itan mia poly kali empeiria, perasame poly oraia kai tha sas xanaerthoume.

4. A translation into English (or other language of your choice)

We stayed at the hotel for 3 nights and the impressions are beautiful! Good location with spacious and clean rooms. The staff quite hospitable and friendly. The breakfast was relatively large and quality! It was a very good experience, we had a great time and we will come back to you.
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And something from this guy (David Allen Martin II): in his method he uses bidirectional translation, interlinearly: 1. original text 2. good translation 3. literal translation..... back translation... we know from Luca Lampariello and Olly Richards. I find him the most convincing.
There is also a little introduction into Greek. I haven't looked into it but put it here.


Polyglot Challenge - How much Greek can I learn in 1 month?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkJEu9BtlMc
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby lowsocks » Sat Jan 29, 2022 2:39 am

iguanamon wrote:Your profile says "EL" is your native language- I do not know what this is.
A list of language codes can be found on wikipedia (among other places):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ISO_639-1_codes

It turns out that "EL" is the code for... Greek. A bit surprising, given the OP's question. ;)

(If you find EL for Greek hard to remember, perhaps it would help to think of the English word "hellenic".)

But it was probably a typo in their profile. My guess is he or she meant to type "EN", for English, as their native language.
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby kanewai » Sat Jan 29, 2022 3:46 am

acorngalaxy wrote:I'm reaching the halfway mark in my Greek course and I am starting to get familiar with the structure of Modern Greek and I would like to start reading on the side to exponentially increase my vocabulary
I tried that with Greek, also half-way through my course. It didn't work. My experience was similar; it took ages just to read a paragraph, and I didn't retain much at all.

The tough love response here is: Finish the course. Be patient. Then try again. The time will come.

Side note: reading will not exponentially increase your vocabulary. It's actually a surprisingly inefficient way to learn vocabulary. Reading is great for a thousand reasons, but not for this.

acorngalaxy wrote:Besides, I really want to read native-level content right from the get go. So yes, I refuse to use anything that has "dumbed-down" language. I want something a la harsh reality.
More tough love: that's not going to happen. I hate dumbed-down books and audio too. But the only choice I see here is to continue to study using traditional methods, or to use the dumb-down stuff.

i don't want to discourage you - keep at it! But Greek is going to take a lot more time than Italian and Portuguese took. There's really no way around it.
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby sirgregory » Mon Jan 31, 2022 6:48 pm

In addition to all the other suggestions,

1) Repetition. Instead of struggling with intensive reading of fresh material all the time, you can instead go over selected material multiple times.

2) Narrow the topics. It can be hard even for people who are fairly advanced in a language to know a lot of the specialized vocabulary for business, politics, science, etc. One thing to do about this is to (mostly) stick to a particular topic (if you are learning Greek to further a particular interest, I would choose that). This makes the vocabulary much more manageable.

If you've gone through half of a basic Greek course, you probably only know 1,000 words or so, if you're lucky. Getting through native texts at that level will be arduous. It's not even really reading at that point. "Decipherment" is probably a more accurate term. I actually enjoy it and there are advantages to it even early on*, but it will burn you out if you overdo it. I'd set a time limit for it. For example, one hour, once or twice a week.

*Barry Farber (author of How To Learn Any Language which inspired the original HTLAL forum) advocated this right from the beginning and his main reason for it interestingly enough was simply that it impresses upon the learner just how hard the language actually is. It keeps your eye on the ball, so to speak. Another reason is that if you only study from dry textbooks, things don't seem to stick that well. But if you are also using some native content, you'll start making connections between what's in the textbook and in authentic texts.
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby Le Baron » Tue Feb 01, 2022 11:43 pm

acorngalaxy wrote:Besides, I really want to read native-level content right from the get go. So yes, I refuse to use anything that has "dumbed-down" language. I want something a la harsh reality.

This is surely the wrong approach? Native content/harsh reality is what you tried and it is a complete brick wall.
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby Le Baron » Tue Feb 01, 2022 11:50 pm

kanewai wrote:Side note: reading will not exponentially increase your vocabulary. It's actually a surprisingly inefficient way to learn vocabulary. Reading is great for a thousand reasons, but not for this.

It's better than 'word lists' though. You get exposure to new vocabulary and in context. I wouldn't dismiss word lists of a sort, because I make short ones based upon reading in order to investigate them, but I don't think there's any real evidence that the common sorts of lists feed vocabulary learning especially. I think reading does feed vocabulary because the place of words in sentences, paragraphs and the context of an entire work highlights its meaning and often its nuances in use.

What do you think is better for vocabulary building? I'll give anything a try.
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby zenmonkey » Wed Feb 02, 2022 2:26 am

Le Baron wrote:What do you think is better for vocabulary building? I'll give anything a try.


Really depends on level and language.

Early on, massively just learn common words, particularly nouns with image+sound and/or very short sentences - like "The pan is black." "the pin is sharp" - contextualize and visualize.

As I got to an intermediate level I tried gold lists, word lists, Anki for single words -- I just grabbed an advanced frequency list and threw myself at it and this was an awful waste of time. Retention was well below 70% because advanced vocabulary includes much more ephemeral concepts.

What worked here, for me, using a shortlist of words, defining 3 or 4 contextual sentences, and then taking 2-3 scheduled moments during the day where I would try to produce the sentences or similar sentences with each word.

I'd point to the fridge and call out "Ein gefährliches Loch, und nicht einmal eine Absperrung harum!" This seated those hard-to-get words more than Anki or wordlist. Make them funny or crude, drive your family crazy. It made it more sticky. YMMV.

And lots of intensive listening and reading with native, inefficient material because that is where I want to use it. So if I was watching Charite, I'd take notes of words I didn't know, look them up and rewatch the episode. Slow but satisfying.
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Re: At a loss- Where do I even start if I want to read?

Postby kanewai » Wed Feb 02, 2022 7:51 am

For me, doing written and oral exercises with a good grammar book has been the most effective and efficient. The catch is finding a good course, on level with some of the FSI courses or the CLE series for French. Even writing out the exercises in Assimil is good.

I don’t always have the time or energy to do this, but if I had to level up for a job then this is where I’d spend most of my time.

Since I don’t *have* to level up, I actually spend most of my time reading. Hence, I’m pretty confident saying it’s not an efficient or fast way to learn vocabulary.

I never could sustain much interest in anki or other similar programs, but they were useful when I used them.
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