Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

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

Postby luke » Thu Oct 28, 2021 11:38 am

AllSubNoDub wrote:
german2k01 wrote: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 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.

That's a good point. German, Russian, Hungarian grammars are all more challenging than English.

To german2k01: Why not do some sort of thorough grammar test and see if it finds any chinks in the grammar armor?

Then you could focus on those particular points which would be extremely efficient, and you seem to like efficiency :)
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einzelne
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby einzelne » Thu Oct 28, 2021 1:34 pm

Dragon27 wrote:Constant corrections by parents and other grown-ups are greatly overstated. Kids learn the language more by imitating, rather than listening to explicit corrections.


Do you have children? If yes, how much time did you spend with them in their formative years?

At any rate, we are talking about vocabulary building for reading purposes. I don't know why do I need to use TickTock and PlayStation kids as a benchmark. Fiction and non-fiction books are usually written for educated adults, not for them. My Russian vocabulary is lights ahead of my vocabulary in all my L2 languages because I was a voracious reader as a kid, teenager, and student. And I expect the educated adults in my L2 had the same experience.

The OP wants to get to the comfortable level of reading of both fiction and non-fiction as quick as possible. That's why I suggested to add intensive sessions + vocabulary review. I know no other tricks to accelerate the pace and doubt they exist.

My personal experience tells me that it is certainly accelerates your progress. There are some objective factors behind it — Zipf's law (see the graph there). Even if you read a lot, what you discover is that after a certain point words become evenly distributed in your texts. They are still important for your understanding but they occur only once or twice in a text (hapaxes). So you don't have enough repetitions to absorb them.

In fact, take any concordance for any book and you will see that of 7k lemmas which occur in it (the vocabulary size of an average novel) only about 2k — max 3k — will occur more that 10 times. The other 4-5k will be a long tail of words, the majority of which occur only once or twice in a texts. To makes thing worse, this long tail varies significantly from author to author (even in books of a single author!) so, unless you decide to concentrate your reading on a particular topic, extensive reading is of minimal help.

Have you ever noticed that Routledge frequency dictionaries are limited to 5k words? Why do you think is that? It's because after a certain point their occurrence plummets you get a long tail of words of equal rank and it's hard to decide which of them is more important.

At any rate, these are just my observations. I've noticed that people in language learning communities rarely discuss this topic assuming that extensive exposure will take care of itself. I think it's not the case and tried to provide some objective evidence.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby einzelne » Thu Oct 28, 2021 1:39 pm

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 think we've been telling you this right from the start:)
Personally, I'm really baffled that you managed to learn successfully English but refuse to apply the same approach to German. I think, at this stage the firm grasp of grammar and the ability to produce simple sentences automatically (on the level of adapted books) is way more important than vocabulary.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby german2k01 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 3:08 pm

Personally, I'm really baffled that you managed to learn successfully English but refuse to apply the same approach to German. I think, at this stage the firm grasp of grammar and the ability to produce simple sentences automatically (on the level of adapted books) is way more important than vocabulary


Agreed, Now at this stage, I should do what you have been suggesting for a while. Now just get down to it and get it done.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby Dragon27 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 3:34 pm

einzelne wrote:Do you have children? If yes, how much time did you spend with them in their formative years?

No, I don't.
I know there are cultures where parents barely talk to their children at all, it doesn't seem to prevent them from acquiring proper language structures.
I believe that the question of the usefulness of direct negative evidence in language acquisition is debated. Kids are not constantly corrected by adults, and when they are, they don't pick it up that well.

einzelne wrote:My Russian vocabulary is lights ahead of my vocabulary in all my L2 languages because I was a voracious reader as a kid, teenager, and student. And I expect the educated adults in my L2 had the same experience.

Of course, that kind of head-start is hard to beat, and this native/non-native vocabulary size discrepancy will probably stay that way for good. I wouldn't say it's a problem.

einzelne wrote:My personal experience tells me that it is certainly accelerates your progress.

I don't discard you personal experience, and that intensive vocabulary learning techniques, like spaced repetition, can be an efficient supporting activity. I just think from the way you describe things that you underappreciate certain factors (which I've mentioned) in the natural language acquisition (without this kind of deliberate study and review) that can alleviate the problem of hapaxes and other rare (but not obscure) words to a great degree.
Last edited by Dragon27 on Thu Oct 28, 2021 4:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby german2k01 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 4:50 pm

No, I don't.
I know there are cultures where parents barely talk to their children at all, it doesn't seem to prevent them from acquiring proper language structures.


I second your opinion. My parents were working parents. When I used to come home from school none was there. I still vividly remember that I was never corrected by my parents. The "inputs" I usually got mainly came from my schoolmates, teachers, siblings and some friends in my neighborhood.
Additionally, as a kid, I used to read short stories in a magazine that every Friday accompanied by a local newspaper. They were short and sweet; captivating in nature so every Friday I was looking forward to reading them. However, I would say that their level was around B1 level.
The newspapers were around B2 or B2+ level.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby Le Baron » Thu Oct 28, 2021 5:06 pm

After the first years most language development is among peers.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby einzelne » Thu Oct 28, 2021 5:57 pm

german2k01 wrote:I second your opinion. My parents were working parents. When I used to come home from school none was there.


I meant mainly pre-school years (2-5). I don't remember a thing about these years. So, naturally, I thought that kids pick up languages naturally. When I became a parent and was really shocked to discover how often I had to correct my kid (declensions and conjugations). Sure, kids don't need explicit grammar training that's why I don't like when people try to draw parallels between L1 and L2 language acquisition (although, incidentally, I discovered in both Russian 19th century and French literature the descriptions of how kids were explicitly drilled for subjonctif), but I wouldn't underestimate the importance of such constant feedback from parents and siblings and, alter, the importance of school.

On the side note, yes, I'm not a big fan of 'natural language acquisition' for the sheer reason that it's a very slippery term. It's very hard to define what 'natural' means in case of L2.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby lichtrausch » Thu Oct 28, 2021 8:07 pm

I haven't read every word of this thread so sorry if it's already been mentioned, but it seems like the problem of (non-obscure) hapaxes is being blown out of proportion. You deal with these hapaxes by watching TV series where a hapax of one episode is not a hapax of the entire series, i.e. it's repeated in later episodes. So you might learn all sorts of rare medical vocabulary through the natural spaced repetition of watching House. Or by having a spell of interest in architecture and consuming Wikipedia articles and Youtube videos on the subject over the course of a week or two. Etc., etc. As long as the vocab is not fantastically obscure, there will be types of input which will feed it to you in high enough doses for natural spaced repetition. Which is essentially why we don't need to use Anki to learn rare vocab in our native languages either. Sure, we're limited by the fact that few of use can afford to get 10 hours of daily input in our foreign languages, but that just draws out the process somewhat, it doesn't make it impossible.
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Re: Reading goal for 2022 - need your advice?

Postby einzelne » Fri Oct 29, 2021 2:38 am

lichtrausch wrote:I haven't read every word of this thread so sorry if it's already been mentioned, but it seems like the problem of (non-obscure) hapaxes is being blown out of proportion.


Out of proportion? It really depends on your situation and your goals. If you're not in the hurry, have plenty of time, or feel chilled about your vocabulary, then, certainly, there's no problem here.

But people are different. Someone wants to build their vocabulary as quickly as possible. Or someone, like me, have 3 languages and don't have 3 hours for each of them every day, but still would like to expand their vocabulary, slowly but steadily. In this case, some knowledge about the statistical distribution of words can certainly help you to structure your activities accordingly (and have realistic expectations).

The examples you provided are examples of terminology. I had in mind simple words. What kind of wikipedia pages I need to read or YouTube channels I need to watch to artificially increase the occurrence of such a motley set of words like: 'slovenly', 'squalid', 'to scrounge', 'to total a car', 'to chug', 'etiolated' and so on? But even if we take my initial example with 'grasshopper': do I really need to read a wiki page on insects even if I have zero interest in entomology? 'Grasshopper' is pretty normal word, I have no desire to deliberately learn the names of all common insects but if I happen to see it in the text, then, hell, why not to put it in my passive vocabulary?

I don't use Anki, I cannot stick to its rigid algorithms and don't believe in its 'scientifically calculated' intervals. But I think repetition is key. So I like to flip through the book (paper or Kindle) I've recently read in my spare time and review highlighted words. As I said, I'm not very strict with my routine but every time I do it, I find it definitely positively contributes to my vocabulary. How can I know for sure? Usually I read fiction before sleep, and I go through the new words next day during my morning cup of coffee — usually, during my first review round I have to look up translations for almost all of the words. It's only after 3 days (around 9 repetition sessions in total) that I start to feel confident (and bored) and switch to a new batch of words.
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