Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

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german2k01
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby german2k01 » Wed Oct 27, 2021 9:34 pm

Alternatively, you can simply read extensively and just check new words now and then. But in that case I wouldn't expect to be a fluent reader in a year. 5-10 years — that would be a more realistic estimation (provided we are talking about general reading fluency, i.e. the ability to read a wide variety of texts).


What about using a reading tool like LingQ that keeps tracking of your previously looked up words in different contexts? Also, using such a tool allows you to look up words quickly within the text. The only downside is, reading has to be done off-screen, not with physical books.
Do you still wager the same time period for reading a wide variety of texts?
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby einzelne » Wed Oct 27, 2021 9:52 pm

german2k01 wrote:What about using a reading tool like LingQ


Never used it. I use Kindle app on my iPad for that. I guess it's the same.

german2k01 wrote:Do you still wager the same time period for reading a wide variety of texts?


Technology made looking up words easier — no need to waste your time rummaging through paper dictionaries. Still, it doesn't automatically upload all these words into your brain.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby Le Baron » Wed Oct 27, 2021 10:34 pm

lusan wrote:
iguanamon wrote: The simple formula after the basics that almost always works is "read a lot; listen a lot; write some; speak when you can".


So easy but so hard to believe.

And yet entirely true.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby Le Baron » Wed Oct 27, 2021 10:55 pm

german2k01 wrote:
It seems to me that, again, you want to hear some magic number. Like, the moment you read 10k pages, 5 million words, you suddenly become fluent.


I am not looking for a magic number. German is my third language. I learned English on my own in my home country. I know what it takes to learn a language to a higher level if you are not living and working in the language. I am still learning it.
I am just trying to appraise the efficacy of the method itself whether it is sustainable over a long period of time or not. How much time should I allocate for it in a day? Some people say not just more than 20 minutes a day as this way of reading is mentally exhausting and conversely, in your case, I believe it is the main method of learning the language at least that's what the impression I have got. Please correct me If I am not wrong.

You learned English on your own and, apparently, succeeded. So you must know what you did to get to that point? There are two things I would first say about this: materials and opportunities for learning and using English are much more in abundance than (maybe) every other language. Secondly, there are many ways to the same goal, though there is also much overlap.

So can I ask some questions? Did you learn in a country which has a history of English (through colonialism)? Did you speak English when you were learning it? Do you speak it to people now? What materials did you use and how did you read/listen?

The analysis of this for yourself may tell you whether applying those methods you used will or will not assist you in learning German, or if some of it will. Including speaking, which I appreciate isn't the particular topic of this thread. If e.g. you didn't timetable a reading plan and run an L-R regimen to learn English, why would that work especially for German? If, on the other hand, you did do that and you think it worked splendidly, then do that. Did you have to read hundreds of books before you could use English competently?
Did/do you speak a lot in English? Is it likely this leads to speaking 'fluency' (I say it does), then why aren't you doing that? If you didn't do that, which I would find hard to comprehend, then okay.

To my mind the main 'rules' for learning a language don't really change per language, except that each language is sometimes pursued best or 'cracked' through different methodologies which ultimately deliver the same: listening/reading/speaking. Persistently, in increasing complexity and perhaps volume.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby AllSubNoDub » Thu Oct 28, 2021 1:54 am

einzelne wrote:
Dragon27 wrote:"Sauterelle" has an obvious root and a diminutive suffix, so it doesn't seem to me to require any kind of intensive memorization and review routine either. I know, not all "common rare" words are like that, but many of them are.


It's not how it works. Let me explain: if sauterelle is the only word you came across while reading in a day, then, yes, you might remember it. This scenario usually happens at the very advanced stages of fluent reading. What happens if you haven't reached this stage yet? Well, you have 5-10 new words per page. Imagine, you read 30 pages today: that means on average you encounter 150-300 words per session. It's too much information, and even if you check the meaning by using a pop-up dictionary, it evaporates immediately because you're constantly bombarded by dozens of other new words. Your brain is too overwhelmed since it cannot process all this information. Unless, of course the word will pop up a dozen of times over these 30 pages. It happens but quite rarely (because, again, see Zipf's law).


Anecdotally, to einzelne's point, I tried to recall the word for 'grasshopper' in Spanish, which I know I've come across more than once. It wouldn't come to mind. When you said 'sauterelle' had an obvious root, that made be think, "Yes! 'saltar', to jump." 'Salta-algo' was as close as I got. Anyway, the word is 'saltamontes' which I may have eventually guessed as assuredly as a chimp would have eventually typed out Shakespeare given enough time.

Conversely, I kept trying to not think of 'grillo', the word for 'cricket', which is conveniently located in my Anki. To be fair, I would have probably recognized 'saltamontes' if I read it though, and I think the point was more about comprehension than production. So maybe you're both right. ;)

Incidentally, after a little bit of focus (just talking about it in this thread), I probably won't be forgetting 'saltamontes' any time soon either, so maybe there's also a third person who's right.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby Dragon27 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 6:35 am

einzelne wrote:Yes, they do indeed — by being immersed in the language all the day long, by being constantly supported and corrected by parents and then teachers.

Constant corrections by parents and other grown-ups are greatly overstated. Kids learn the language more by imitating, rather than listening to explicit corrections.
Sure, natives are being immersed in the language, but it's not like they consume the best kind of content all day long. Often it's repetitive and cliched kind of interactions between peers, forced input through school instructions (to which the kids are not always very receptive), depending on personal circumstances there may be long stretches of time where the kid is left to their own devices (and certainly not all the kids like to fill their free time with vocabulary increasing activities like reading books).
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that the natives don't have the overwhelmingly advantageous position over us, foreigners, to learn their own native language. Still, a language enthusiast can go a great deal by actively seeking content to improve their language knowledge as best as they can.

I do envy the natives in their greater exposure to the kind of colloquial/local language that it's hard for learners to find even if we do read lots of books/watch TV shows (since it's mostly used only in everyday/informal situations).

einzelne wrote:It's not how it works. Let me explain: if sauterelle is the only word you came across while reading in a day, then, yes, you might remember it. This scenario usually happens at the very advanced stages of fluent reading. What happens if you haven't reached this stage yet? Well, you have 5-10 new words per page. Imagine, you read 30 pages today: that means on average you encounter 150-300 words per session. It's too much information, and even if you check the meaning by using a pop-up dictionary, it evaporates immediately because you're constantly bombarded by dozens of other new words. Your brain is too overwhelmed since it cannot process all this information.

Yes, of course the learner's experience of vocabulary acquisition is quite different at the different stages of their learning endeavour. 150-300 per sessions is too much to attempt to memorize them all at once, even with all the supporting memorizing and reviewing techniques. So what? I guess, you should try to avoid to strain your concentration to the point where your brain just says 'nope!' and refuses to remember anything at all. You are going to let a great part of the words go (hoping that at best they manage to leave some vague traces in your subconscious), but still try to retain some part of them, so that you keep improving.
If there are so many new words, there's an ample opportunity for progress. What you were talking about in the first place are the rare words, that are still common (not obscure) from the native's point of view, which means they are still used in a repetitive manner somewhere else (hence my proposed solution of widening the variety of content you consume).

einzelne wrote:5-10 years — that would be a more realistic estimation (provided we are talking about general reading fluency, i.e. the ability to read a wide variety of texts).

For sure, one couldn't expect to become an expert reader in just one-two years. Still, one can go a long way.

einzelne wrote:I tried both methods extensive reading only and extensive+intensive (in my case that usually means that I gloss words on the margins or make a list of new expressions from my kindle books and then review them) and I can tell that, although more challenging, extensive+intensive mode of reading leads to better results, especially if you don't have the luxury of reading in your target language at least 3 hours a day.

I probably never read in full extensive mode, where I don't make any attempt at paying closer attention to some words and phrases, looking them up from time to time, etc. Only in a hurry I try to just read as fast as I can and maybe ignore the unknown being satisfied with only the gist (but I don't feel like I'm in a hurry in general). So it's more like extensive/partially intensive (with intensive mode taking up more or less space depending on my current goals or circumstances), although in my case 'intensive' doesn't entail preparing the words for subsequent reviewal.
It is, of course, problematic to fully devote your attention when you're not just studying a single foreign language. A polyglot's curse, so to speak. And trying to reinvent the entire world of ideas in all its diversity each time you study a new language can get pretty old. So it does make sense to try and make it more efficient by turning to specialized techniques for retaining and reviewing the vocabulary that you may not naturally memorize as fast as you wish you could. Or settle with what you have and compromise on your level. And rationalize it like "you can't become an expert in every language you want to learn", or something.

About having the luxury of learning, I was under the impression that TS is ready to devote enough time every day to reach the mastery of their target language?
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby Dragon27 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 6:58 am

AllSubNoDub wrote:When you said 'sauterelle' had an obvious root, that made be think, "Yes! 'saltar', to jump." 'Salta-algo' was as close as I got. Anyway, the word is 'saltamontes' which I may have eventually guessed as assuredly as a chimp would have eventually typed out Shakespeare given enough time.

In French 'sauter' is, of course, just a regular word for jumping (like Spanish 'saltar'). The Spanish word seems to follow the model for words like 'lanzafuegos' (flame-thrower) or 'chupacabras' (goat-sucker), i.e. the verb in 3 p. sg. present form + plural noun (the object of the verb), so the structure of the Spanish word makes more sense to me, actually, than that of the French one.
The russian word 'кузнечик' is a diminutive form of 'кузнец' which means 'blacksmith'. What do grasshoppers have to do with blacksmiths? Who knows, as natives we just accept the word as it is, and only some of us may question it much later.

AllSubNoDub wrote:Incidentally, after a little bit of focus (just talking about it in this thread), I probably won't be forgetting 'saltamontes' any time soon either, so maybe there's also a third person who's right.

Yes, focusing and paying special attention to a word or a phrase, studying it like a subject you're interested in (or just talking about and playing around with, having an emotional response to it, interacting with other people and explaining your own ideas about it), of course, creates a much deeper impression in your brain's synaptic pathways. Often, review becomes unnecessary, or maybe just a small amount of it later. There are way too many words to study each one of them like that, obviously, but it does help with learning in general, I think, by developing a better understanding which can click with other words later, or just increasing you motivation (and curiosity) in general (also, you can improve your knowledge of some other words incidentally, while you're pursuing the word in question).
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby german2k01 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 7:45 am

You learned English on your own and, apparently, succeeded. So you must know what you did to get to that point? There are two things I would first say about this: materials and opportunities for learning and using English are much more in abundance than (maybe) every other language. Secondly, there are many ways to the same goal, though there is also much overlap.

So can I ask some questions? Did you learn in a country which has a history of English (through colonialism)? Did you speak English when you were learning it? Do you speak it to people now? What materials did you use and how did you read/listen?


I started learning English at the age of 22 years old. I was not exposed to English until this age. I went to a school where Urdu (my native language) was the main instruction of language. And, I only exclusively watched movies and dramas in my native language.
However, to use the internet and to read books in English at a university level, I must know English.
I started reading with graded readers (5-6) in total. I studied grammar read about it but never did grammar drills. However, I did a lot of intensive reading with easy readers, noticing grammar patterns. Then I went into reading "News" websites. I usually used to stick with one website for months be it CNN or BBC or some Indian news website. Then I read "100" non fiction books in a year I also watched a lot of movies with Subtitles.With reading, I used to append a lot of new words to my Anki collection reviewing words diligently.
I did not use L-R. I did not use bilingual books. I did not listen to English 6 hours a day. Maybe 1 hour a day. However, I read.
I never spoke much in English. The only time I spoke is in the class while participating in the discussion. My degree is in English here in Germany. That's the only time I spoke English. For the last 18 months, I did not even see English or Urdu. I have only immersed myself in the German language.

The analysis of this for yourself may tell you whether applying those methods you used will or will not assist you in learning German, or if some of it will. Including speaking, which I appreciate isn't the particular topic of this thread. If e.g. you didn't timetable a reading plan and run an L-R regimen to learn English, why would that work especially for German? If, on the other hand, you did do that and you think it worked splendidly, then do that. Did you have to read hundreds of books before you could use English competently?
Did/do you speak a lot in English? Is it likely this leads to speaking 'fluency' (I say it does), then why aren't you doing that? If you didn't do that, which I would find hard to comprehend, then okay.


Yes, this time around I approached the German language in a different way no grammar study as "German grammar" is no way as straightforward as English grammar. I started with reading easy readers - some books by Andre Klein. I made heavy use of Deep L translator when reading short texts in German. Then directly ventured into reading native books with L-R. I have read all of my 27 books in this way. These were all novels. This time the whole method is based on "100% listening" as I want to develop a strong sound system. I also watched a lot of television series in German which I did not do in English in the beginning stage of learning. German natives judge my German based on my pronunciation. They feel impressed. I can sense it by their body language. Paying attention to listening is working wonders.
What I am thinking now is to go back to reading news websites, non-fiction books, appending a lot of words to my Anki collection.
and reviewing them diligently. Hence, I asked the above question. In 18 months of learning, my listening hours are approaching 2900h and reading is approaching near the 3 million mark.

1. Do you think I need to spend more time reading books daily in a traditional way no more crutches in the form of bilingual texts/Google translator or in L-R mode? Just outright reading with a little struggle will do? Also, going back to reading some easy stuff, young adult literature may help with picking up grammar?
2. Do you think it is time to open a grammar book and read about Grammar and see where I lack and fill in the gaps?
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby luke » Thu Oct 28, 2021 10:45 am

Dragon27 wrote:The russian word 'кузнечик' is a diminutive form of 'кузнец' which means 'blacksmith'. What do grasshoppers have to do with blacksmiths?

Think hammer beating an anvil and the sound of grasshoppers.

But as I child, seeing grasshoppers jumping around in the grass and fields where I grew up, the name made sense, and I still remember thinking about it.

A less sensible name like "little blacksmith" may not have captured my attention in the same way.
german2k01 wrote:I started learning English at the age of 22 years old. I was not exposed to English until this age.

1. Do you think I need to spend more time reading books daily in a traditional way no more crutches in the form of bilingual texts/Google translator or in L-R mode? Just outright reading with a little struggle will do? Also, going back to reading some easy stuff, young adult literature may help with picking up grammar?
2. Do you think it is time to open a grammar book and read about Grammar and see where I lack and fill in the gaps?

Thank you for the history!

Sounds like you may be in your late twenties or early thirties?

On your questions, sometimes I have them too. Perhaps behind them is your own personal intuition that these are the next things you should do.

I think that's behind some of the "measuring is not always trustworthy" advice comes from. It's easier to shift to a new track when I haven't already defined the "termination point" of a goal. (like finish a particular book, course, number of words, series, etc). Not that those things don't have value, but I can see how they are sometimes an obstacle in my own planning.
Last edited by luke on Thu Oct 28, 2021 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby AllSubNoDub » Thu Oct 28, 2021 11:17 am

german2k01 wrote:1. Do you think I need to spend more time reading books daily in a traditional way no more crutches in the form of bilingual texts/Google translator or in L-R mode? Just outright reading with a little struggle will do? Also, going back to reading some easy stuff, young adult literature may help with picking up grammar?
2. Do you think it is time to open a grammar book and read about Grammar and see where I lack and fill in the gaps?


I'll be honest, I don't see how people learn languages like German, Russian, etc. without some explicit grammar study. For German, I just got a lot of the grammar "out of the way" by getting to a somewhat high level of understanding in the beginning as compared to my very limited vocabulary (it did not seem like it took long and I found it immensely enjoyable and interesting). So after working through a couple of grammar-translation texts, I could generate simple sentences with perfect command. I would always try to get my writing corrected, so even when I went for something more complex and faltered, I would try to understand where I went wrong and just accept it as "the way things were" and apply it going forward. Then I was able to just bolt on vocabulary and most of the remaining advanced grammar I "got used to" and eventually absorbed. Only after a lot of immersion, did I then find it beneficial to read through and look into more advanced grammar concepts, at which point everything became a eureka moment.

I did something similar for Spanish in the beginning, but once you get the conjugations down, Romance languages are just not that interesting grammatically. Different tools for different problems.

I don't know if any of this helps you (I'm sorry). I would say if grammar is not hindering you and it's mainly a question of vocabulary (which would be my hunch), then you should probably focus on building vocabulary. If you've come this far, I'm also assuming your grammar must be somewhat decent (you did say you did a lot of conventional study for your first 18 months). If it interests you and you feel like you've had enough exposure and are just dying to know why things "are the way they are", then going through a grammar might be a good idea, but make it a side dish not the entrée.
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