The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

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Picaboo
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby Picaboo » Sun Nov 27, 2022 7:11 pm

I repeatedly tried this method learning Korean. I really wanted it to work, but it was too painful. And absolutely exhausting.

My personal limit now for "intensive reading" is around 50% unknown words and even that is not really reading, but, for me, a study routine. With something that hard I use the same text over and over until it's well known. I don't just move on to the next one.

It might be fairly decent technique if you know a similar language and can read all the usual beginner textbook dialogues. I have no experience there, but will surely try it when I learn French.
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby einzelne » Sun Nov 27, 2022 8:17 pm

I second the opinion of those above who doubt it's a great idea. I tried to read books I was really after in my target languages (Herman Melville in English, Martin Heidegger in German) in the intermediate stages and it was a terrible idea. It is slow, painful, and ineffective. It I doubt you can cut the corners this way. It didn't feel 'cool' at all. And yes, it can easily lead to burnout.

Now that I more experienced with language learning, I can introduce unadapted texts way earlier in my learning path. Still, in the beginning it's not the texts I'm really after. You need to build muscles and endurance.
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby STT44 » Sun Nov 27, 2022 8:46 pm

You could potentially use a diluted version of your reading plan as long as it involves one of the "easier" languages (ie, absolutely not Chinese or Japanese).

Take the first sentence of your book. Put it through Google Translate. Add to Anki. Add notes on every little aspect of that sentence: gender, parts of speech, grammar... everything. Search the Internet, dictionaries, ask in forums... whatever it takes, but in the end you must understand everything about that sentence.

Repeat for the next sentence.

Do not add more than 3 sentences a day for the first month.

Review every day.
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby Iversen » Sun Nov 27, 2022 9:57 pm

I have already recommended the use of bilingual texts, but since the degree of difficulty of the language in question has been mentioned here I would like to add one detail. There are very few totally hyperliteral translations available, so those you can get (even from a machine) will have changed some things like the word order, and they may also have chosen expressions that aren't parallel to those in your target language. So my advice in this case would be to spend some time getting acquainted with typical sentence patterns in the target language before you try to understand an incomprehensible text using a translation - and to get the kind of ultra simple sentences needed for this you may have to use textbooks and other articifial sources first - or texts with very simple and stereotype sentence structures. For target languages which have more or less the same constructions as your base language (with just a limited number of glaring exceptions) you can start using bilingual texts almost from the beginning.
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby Sae » Sun Nov 27, 2022 10:46 pm

Funny this thread should appear the day I've got a new Vietnamese storybook.

If it works for you, then obviously, great.

But I think at a beginner level there is the obvious challenge of not knowing much of the language at all and you'll be looking everything up and I think it becomes busy work. I think that's maybe not-so-bad when the content is quite light. And I know there are books that are written for language learners, because I have 3. But I am running into the challenge of trying to find Mongolian stuff that's suited for learners because I hope to get reading earlier than I have with Vietnamese. And I think there is value in reading above your level, just not too far above.

At least with stuff directed at language learners you get accompanying material and I think it's a good idea to try and understand and figure out much as you can without it and then use it.

What I got in the post today is actually pretty light, it uses a comic style and is directed at language learners, but was enough for me to figure out the situation with words I didn't know, fill gaps in my knowledge with context where I could and then use the accompanying material to fill the gaps I didn't understand. And out of a 2 page comic I learned a few new things and new ways of saying a couple of things I knew. Which to me would be the right kind of balance.

I think if the source material is too difficult to understand and understanding it requires too much labour, I guess I question how much value it has versus reading material closer to your level or learning more of the language first and of course a question of what it does to your motivation. Though I think in principle, learning to read and speak the language as soon as possible is a good thing. And I don't think it should be easy either, because I think having some problem solving maybe helps thinking in the mindset of how the language works.

So in short, challenging enough to make you think and engage your brain, but not so challenging you have little-to-know clue and are practically needing to look up every word or not know what words to look up to derive meaning without looking up every single word.
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby german2k01 » Mon Nov 28, 2022 7:03 am

In any case, when I listened to a formal lesson on separable verbs much later, there was nothing in it that I didn't already know. Very satisfying


Recognizing Separable verbs is an easy example. It is not that hard to recognize. What about relativsatze? They are so tricky to pick up just from input alone. There are four cases and you must know how two different sentences are constructed with relativesatze in each individual case depending on the gender. m/f/n/pl.
Reading about it beforehand in a grammar book and seeing them in action in the wild really helps.

Different conjunctions in the German language follow different verb positions in a sentence. Reading about them beforehand really helps. You are expending so much mental energy just figuring out their positions by osmosis. Not every language follows subject + verb + object sequence like in English. Input approach might work in English, but not every language has the same grammatical logical sequence.

If Dr. Stephen Krashen thinks he speaks German fluently and has not touched a single grammar book, I highly doubt he can pick up on the functionality of relativesatze just from input alone. He should tell the truth if he touched the grammar book in German.
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby Pikaia » Mon Nov 28, 2022 11:50 am

It hasn't ever worked for me, and not for lack of trying, given that reading is one of my favorite activities.

However, if your idea of a very good time is to read graded readers in your TL, starting with easy ones and gradually moving on to more difficult ones, then by all means carry on! :lol:

On a related note, my best insomnia fix is to attempt to read a few pages of a TL book that is well above my level. It works every time! :D
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby bolaobo » Mon Nov 28, 2022 2:14 pm

I could see this working for some languages related to ones you already know.

But for Arabic I can't see this working. How would you even know what the vowels were? It might be doable with fully voweled text and a translation to refer to.
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby språker » Mon Nov 28, 2022 4:38 pm

Being on the "intermediate plateau" in my current target language I am finally able to read interesting books, and it is still not easy. I sometimes wonder if I could have arrived to my current level quicker if I would have banged my head against unadapted content during the beginner phase.

Then, I think that every stage has its own charm. Given how much time and effort is required between the intermediate level and the advanced level, I feel that my little beginner bubble where I learned the basics and studied the grammar wasn't too bad. Now is the time for the literature, as I still don't feel prepared.
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Re: The argument for jumping straight into reading whatever you like, even as a total novice

Postby Lisa » Mon Nov 28, 2022 6:15 pm

Reading a book that you know well in translation allows you to read very far above your level; the problem I had (as a false beginner so I did have basic grammar and some vocab) with unknown material, was that I just get entirely lost and didn't know what they were talking about... it was impossible for me to keep engaged. Some books that have less logical sequence of thought/action are particularly bad.

I started lord of the rings (which I've read many times in english) after only a few months of spanish and about a year of german. It was not quite like having a dual language side by side but it was definitely lying if I claimed to understand what I was reading from the text.

The OP was looking at religious text which could well be this same situation.
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