Selecting extensive reading materials

General discussion about learning languages
User avatar
MorkTheFiddle
Green Belt
Posts: 468
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:59 pm
Location: Texas, USA
Languages: English (N), French (read fluently), Spanish (read fluently). Studying Ancient Greek.
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5680&p=70021#p70021
x 630

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 283

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: 2097
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: Engrish
x 3316

Re: Selecting extensive reading materials

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

2 x

mcthulhu
Orange Belt
Posts: 124
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 320

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: 2097
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:34 pm
Languages: Engrish
x 3316

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


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Expugnator and 1 guest