Selecting extensive reading materials

General discussion about learning languages
User avatar
MorkTheFiddle
Blue Belt
Posts: 506
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:59 pm
Location: Texas, USA
Languages: English (N), French (read fluently), Spanish (read fluently). Studying Ancient Greek. Relearning German.
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5680&p=70021#p70021
x 709

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:23 pm

The notion that extensive reading is valuable has been around for more than a few years. There are a few academic articles relating to extensive reading here: http://www.cornellcollege.edu/classical_studies/pedagogy/bibliography.shtml#er. I'm sold on the value of extensive reading, and I don't teach, so I have not looked into any of the resources that site gives.
0 x
Ah ! Le bon billet qu'a La Châtre !

Tomás
Blue Belt
Posts: 554
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:48 pm
Languages: English (N). Currently studying Spanish (intermediate), French (false beginner).
x 636

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby Tomás » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:28 pm

Ani wrote:So what's wrong with the translation button? It is like a mix of iguanamon's side by side readers and EMK's cheating method. Personally, I don't see how anyone could learn plants and animals from the L2-L2 dictionary :) Eventually you will learn enough that it would take more time to look up or translate.


There's not a thing wrong with the translate button--if it is not inhibiting your enjoyment of reading. But if it is, there is a simple fix.

For plants, animals, and household items, one could use picture dictionaries or vocabulary books, although that seems boring to me too. For Spanish learners in the US, there are two animal shows on Saturday mornings: Aventura Animal on UniMas, and the show that comes on before or after it whose name I forget. You can easily learn your animal names by watching those.
0 x

User avatar
paz
White Belt
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 1:07 pm
Location: Padova
Languages: Italian (N), Spanish (B2), English (B2), French (A2)
x 16
Contact:

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby paz » Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:59 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:
paz wrote:I found this project, that from my point of view is quite interesting. They created a Readabilty Catalog of Project Gutenberg eBooks, I quote:
This website determines vocabulary difficulty by a more direct measure than the conventional readability formulas. Earlier researches found that the vocabulary difficulty of a text correlates with its text comprehension (eg. Schmitt et al. 2011). This website investigates vocabulary of a text with a vocabulary frequency list. The investigation process used in this website is similar to that described by Nation (2006), where this website only counts words included in the word family list and this website omits words with diactrical marks.

Since the ebooks are from the Project Gutenberg, everything is free!

Whatever became of this, Paz? What books did you select? What criteria did you use for your selections? Did your criteria turn out to be useful, or did you just have to feel your way to books you could read?


Yes, I tried to select books out of their vocabulary difficulty. And yes, the criteria turned out to be useful.

Of course, I do not think that vocabulary difficulty is the only parameter you should follow to select books. Syntactic complexity, for example, is much more important. But still, it's much easier to concentrate on all the other components if you know the meaning of what you are reading.

Personally, I use to make a words list with all the unknown words I will find in the text. It's kind of helpful.
2 x

jeffers
Orange Belt
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2015 4:12 pm
Location: UK
Languages: Speaks: English (N), Hindi (A2-B1)

Learning: The above, plus French (A2-B1), German (A1), Ancient Greek (?), Sanskrit (beginner)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2612
x 284

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby jeffers » Thu Mar 30, 2017 1:20 pm

paz wrote:
MorkTheFiddle wrote:
paz wrote:I found this project, that from my point of view is quite interesting. They created a Readabilty Catalog of Project Gutenberg eBooks, I quote:
This website determines vocabulary difficulty by a more direct measure than the conventional readability formulas. Earlier researches found that the vocabulary difficulty of a text correlates with its text comprehension (eg. Schmitt et al. 2011). This website investigates vocabulary of a text with a vocabulary frequency list. The investigation process used in this website is similar to that described by Nation (2006), where this website only counts words included in the word family list and this website omits words with diactrical marks.

Since the ebooks are from the Project Gutenberg, everything is free!

Whatever became of this, Paz? What books did you select? What criteria did you use for your selections? Did your criteria turn out to be useful, or did you just have to feel your way to books you could read?


Yes, I tried to select books out of their vocabulary difficulty. And yes, the criteria turned out to be useful.

Of course, I do not think that vocabulary difficulty is the only parameter you should follow to select books. Syntactic complexity, for example, is much more important. But still, it's much easier to concentrate on all the other components if you know the meaning of what you are reading.

Personally, I use to make a words list with all the unknown words I will find in the text. It's kind of helpful.



The project quoted isn't assuming vocabulary difficulty is the only parameter. However, they cite previous research which shows a correlation between vocabulary difficulty and text comprehension:
Earlier researches found that the vocabulary difficulty of a text correlates with its text comprehension (eg. Schmitt et al. 2011).

I understand this to mean that, as a rule of thumb, if a book uses difficult vocabulary it is more likely to contain syntactic complexity. Since it is more simple to measure vocabulary of a text than syntactic complexity or other measures of difficulty, vocabulary is the obvious choice.
2 x
Fr books: 7 / 100films: 90 / 200
De books: 1 / 50films: 6 / 50
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 2 / 50
Gr books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50

User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2222
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: Engrish
x 3587

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby reineke » Thu Mar 30, 2017 3:15 pm

2 x

mcthulhu
Orange Belt
Posts: 134
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:01 pm
Languages: English (native); strong reading skills - Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Slovene, Farsi; fair reading skills - Polish, Czech, Dutch, Esperanto, Portuguese; beginner/rusty - Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
x 341

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby mcthulhu » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:23 pm

If you're reading English or Spanish, https://www.lexile.com/ ("Matching Readers with Texts") might be a good first stop. They claim to have reading level scores calculated for about 150,000 books, and you can search for a book to see its score. If you don't have a "Lexile measure" for yourself from school, I suspect you could probably estimate it fairly quickly from trying a few books at different levels and seeing how you fare. "Joyce, Dante, and the Poetics of Literary Relations" is rated 1710L; "Winnie-the-Pooh" is rated 790L. So "Winnie-the-Pooh" would be the easier one.

I don't know whether anything similar exists for other languages, but text complexity measures like average sentence length, average word length, and vocabulary size are easy to calculate, at least for an ebook you already have in hand. All of these should be more or less correlated with level of difficulty, even though sentence length doesn't always entail more syntactic complexity. I see, for example, that a French translation of a Lovecraft book I have open shows an average sentence length of about 32 words, which is respectable; and a vocabulary size of 7,362 unique tokens. (Unique word families would be a smaller number, but harder to calculate without stemming - still doable, with a little more work, but I figure tokens are good enough for purposes of comparison, as long as you're using the same measure for all books.)

Estimating the size of your own vocabulary might be a little harder. The Leipzig Corpora Collection at http://corpora.uni-leipzig.de is useful for checking unknown words, since it can provide rank and "frequency class" for a given word. For example, in German Arbeit is rank 280 and frequency class 7, while Forschungsaufenthalt is rank 244,273 and frequency class 18, so it's much rarer. Frequency class seems like a useful tool and you could probably figure out fairly soon which frequency classes start to give you problems. The site claims to support 236 languages, so it's a good general-use tool; it's occurred to me that it might be useful in an ebook reader to get that frequency class information and combine it with definitions retrieved from other online dictionaries. (The Leipzig results also include a lot of other information on a word, like synonyms, co-occurrences, a graph of related words, etc., so this site is invaluable for vocabulary-exploring in general.)

I have to admit, though, that the level of difficulty is rarely a consideration for me in deciding which book to pick up next. If I enjoy a book, I don't mind looking up words, especially when it's painless.
2 x

User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2222
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: Engrish
x 3587

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby reineke » Sun May 28, 2017 5:07 pm

Speaking of first stops:

Extensive Reading Central

Learn words, Read and Listen in English for FREE!

Read

1000's of easy texts
20 Levels
Speed reading practice

Listen

Over 1000 texts
Read and Listen
Comprehension check

Learn words
Word Learning Games
Make your own wordlists
Smart word cards

Text helper
Help you understand any webpage
Find and learn words you don't know
Makes reading webpages easy

http://www.er-central.com/
1 x

User avatar
reineke
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2222
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: Engrish
x 3587

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby reineke » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:42 pm

Books sorted by lexile levels
"Within a range from 100L below to 50L above his or her Lexile measure, a reader is expected to comprehend the text well enough to understand it, while still experiencing some reading challenge."

(HP alternatives)

Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Boyce (Lexile Levels 230 - 590)

Goosebumps Original Series by R. L. Stine (Lexile Levels 280 - 640)

Judy Moody by Megan McDonald (Lexile Levels 390 - 600)

Artemis Fowl Graphic Novels by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin (Lexile Levels estimated 535 - 635)

Hardy Boys are the Clues Brothers by Franklin W. Dixon (Lexile Levels 330 - 580)
Hardy Boys Secret Files by Franklin W. Dixon (Lexile Levels 510 - 540)

Geronimo Stilton (Lexile Levels 500 - 720)

Enid Blyton
The Famous Five 650 - 700

Alex Rider 670 - 770
Stormbreaker 670

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan (Lexile Levels 590 - 740)

Nancy Drew Girl Detective by Carolyn Keene (Lexile Levels 560 - 820)

Roald Dahl Classics by Roald Dahl (Lexile Levels 450 - 870)
Roald Dahl Short Stories by Roald Dahl (Lexile Levels 410 - 980)

Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black, Tony DiTerlizzi (Lexile Levels 560 - 690)

Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None 570
The Murder on the Links: A Hercule Poirot ...730
A Murder Is Announced 740
The ABC. Murders 740
Murder on the Orient Express 640

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (Lexile Levels 670 - 720)

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep -- 660

Graham Greene, Brighton Rock -- 680
Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory -- 710

Bambi by Felix Salten 690 (translated)

Where the Red Fern Grows 700

The Little Prince 710

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (Lexile Levels 600 - 930)

Bartimaeus by Jonathan Stroud (Lexile Levels 730 - 820)

Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Lexile Levels 790 - 970)

E.B. White Classics by E. B. White (Lexile Levels 680 - 920)

Redwall by Brian Jacques (Lexile Levels 600 - 1010)

Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathryn Lasky (Lexile Levels 730 - 960)

I, Robot 820

Pinocchio 840

The Da Vinci Code 850

Stephen King
Cujo 830
The Stand 840
Bag Of Bones 890

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 850

To Kill A Mockingbird 870

Wuthering Heights 880

The Ox-Bow Incident 890

Fahrenheit 451 890

Jane Eyre 890

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (Lexile Levels 890 - 950)

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Lexile Levels 810 - 920)

Tales from the Brothers Grimm 900

Hans Christian Andersen Tales 950

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm 960
Anne of Green Gables 990

Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling, (Lexile Levels 880 - 1030)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1020

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne 1070 (translated)

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Lexile Levels 1000 - 1370)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 950
Tom Sawyer, Detective 700

The Brothers Karamazov 970

White Fang 970

Riders of the Purple Sage by Grey, Zane 1000

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Adams, Douglas 1000

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 1010 (English translation - "dense")
23334 unique words
Notre-Dame de Paris 1170

Madame Bovary (Engl. tr.) 1030

Treasure Island 1070

Jungle Book 1080

The Red and the Black (Engl. tr.) 1080

The Count of Monte Cristo (Engl. tr.) 1080
16110 unique words ("dense")

War and Peace 1120
Around 20k unique words

Plato's Parmenides 1140

The Tale of Genji (Engl. tr.) 1190

Moby Dick 1220
17227 unique words ("dense")

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (tr.) 1290

Little Women 1300

Gulliver's Travels 1330

Moll Flanders
Lexile score: 1390
Unique words:approx. 6100
One of the least vocabulary dense books in the Project Gutenberg database (see below)

Gargantua and Pantagruel
Lexile score: 1340
Unique words: approx 26,000
High vocabulary density. This is one of the most vocabulary dense books in the Project Gutenberg database.
See: http://www.mine-control.com/zack/guttenberg/
Also fun to listen to:
http://www.litteratureaudio.com/livres- ... s-rabelais

Don Quixote 1410
"Dense" in translation: 16160 unique words
3 x

User avatar
coldrainwater
Orange Belt
Posts: 193
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2017 4:53 am
Location: Houston, Texas
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B1)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?p=65330#p65330></
x 218

I choose extensive reading with listening in mind

Postby coldrainwater » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:06 am

The choice around extensive reading material seems especially relevant at lower levels of competency (read, me doing languages). Reading tends to progress faster for me than any other study area (related language with a known alphabet). Given that state of affairs, one of the most sensible options was to choose material in the form of audiobooks that I can tackle in an listen/read fashion. Good quality audiobooks with great narration are not necessarily a dime a dozen so this currently constrains my choices a bit and that is why I emphasize it in my response. It also has several outstanding benefits. Viz, given that my other areas are relatively weak, I speak [too] slowly and therefore so does that voice subvocalizing as I read. I figured extensive reading doesn't have to start so slowly and I do not have to make the compromise of intentionally squashing subvocalization to read faster. Picking an audiobook removed a chunk of my own self-imposed mental torpor and kept me at a sustainable native speed. For the curious, it roughly doubles my reading rate from what I can tell.

Mere days prior recognizing my latent affinity for audiobooks, I finished a relatively extensive read of a very interesting historical fiction novel (in my Spanish journey I first experienced the affinity with Veintemundos, an online magazine for language learners, though I wasn't totally satisfied with the magazine format and its short entries that I knew ultimately had to come to an end since they have notably finite content). I am drawn more by challenge than other factors when reading fiction and neither an amazing plot nor a gripping style quite did it for me with the extensive read I chose. On the other hand, if I were to have picked another more challenging book, then it would likely be disqualified from extensive reading since technology makes lookups so fast and efficient that I doubt I could hold back my intensive curiosity (poor self-control) and might veer off track.

My story with extensive reading is still in its infancy, so I can't say how it will evolve even 10 books down the line. But I can say that it looks like the ten books will pass much faster and the pages will accumulate with more alacrity having an audio companion. The challenge of adding speed and a human element provided by good narration pushes me in ways that other meanderings don't (naturally slow reader). It removes the lingering sense of boredom that is a risk of reading material that is too easy by adding both a crutch (extra help through listening, voice intonation, character acting etc.) and a challenge (keeping up, staying focused, and mapping known vocabulary to sounds) all at once. I look at it as a best of several worlds scenario that I am happy to have dipped into. To give something more concrete, my first/current full audiobooks are likely on the level of Harry Potter and I might temporarily opt against Don Quixote (higher lexile level), even though both are at my disposal. When I saw books with 20-50 hours of continuous audio per book, I knew I was onto the kind of numbers that might actually add up to language progress and this quickly became a focal point for my extensive reading criteria.
4 x

User avatar
LinguaPony
Yellow Belt
Posts: 64
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:50 am
Location: Saratov, Russia
Languages: Russian (N), English (Proficient), Italian (Intermediate), M. Chinese (Beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7160
x 143
Contact:

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

Postby LinguaPony » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:31 am

For years I just grabbed any detective novel in English I could get my hands on and sometimes dabbled in other genres. When I started I didn't know anything about the 98% rule, and I'm glad I didn't. The first time I heard about it was a couple of months ago, while listening to one of the Polyglot Conference presentations on YouTube, and my first thought was, "If I had known about it back then, I might never have learned English at all". As it is...

Now, with Italian, I do basically the same thing. Read what I can get, sometimes amuse myself with bilingual reading, but never bother about the 98% thing and never touch any "graded readers" stuff. Give me the real thing, any time!
8 x


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: EarthBerry and 1 guest