Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

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Steve
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby Steve » Sun May 09, 2021 5:07 pm

mjb1971 wrote:Adding new post because I will take this in a more Mandarin-specific direction.

In my experience, parsing unknown meanings and WORDS in Mandarin is more difficult than in Romance or German languages (especially words, I am native English speaker BTW. Also my levels in Romance reading are ILR 2 or above, so there is that. But that score is not orthogonal from reading and parsing strategies!). In my opinion this is because “cant parse a picture.” (Simplification, I know character MIGHT contain clues to either meaning or sound or both. But still.)

So my ability to gist meanings in Mandarin versus Romance languages is qualitatively different. I wonder what implications this has for ER and need to shift between ER and IR or more formal vocabulary grinding?


A shot in the dark here as a FWIW.

Many many years ago, I tried an experiment in listening in a language I knew nothing about, Hebrew. This was over Christmas vacation so I put in about 1/2 hour twice per day for a couple weeks. I found a recording of Genesis 1 and an interlinear (Hebrew/English). I pulled the audio into Audacity and tried to follow along with no knowledge of Hebrew or the Hebrew alphabet. I'd listen in chunks of what seemed to be phrases and sentences. At first it was gibberish, but then some words started jumping out at me. I was mostly looking at the English and associating that with the spoken Hebrew words. At the end of the couple weeks, I could look at perhaps the first 1/3 to so of the chapter in Hebrew text and mostly comprehend it. What was interesting is that I still didn't know the alphabet very well (nor the vowel markings) but looking at the Hebrew words in context prompted the memory of the sound and meaning.

A number of years ago, I picked up the Assimil Chinese course when Schoenhof's had a sale. I decided to prime the pump so to speak by spending about 10 minutes per day at a pace of one lesson per week listening and following along. I edited out silence and duplications and was left with perhaps a minute or so per lesson. My main purpose was just to get my brain and ears attuned to the rhythm and sound of the language and get my eyes accustomed to looking at characters so that I'd have a nice head start for when I started working on it seriously. Life happened and I only did this for a few months. The one thing I found was that this repetition created an association between the sounds, characters, and meanings in my brain where I could look at a character and sort of "hear" it and know it. I also found the characters all started looking different even if I had no clue what all but a few meant or sounded like. I decided that when I was going to get serious about Chinese (maybe never at this point), I was going to work through Assimil as well as in parallel find an audiobook or poems or music or something I would like to binge listen to until it was familiar. So basically Assimil in the morning and listening/following-along to something I like in the evening. In other words, I was going to do much of my initial vocabulary acquisition (oral and written) via repetition of passages in real materials.

Again, this is FWIW and reflects what is my best guess for what would work for me and be enjoyable so that I'd keep it up.
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby mokibao » Sun May 09, 2021 6:31 pm

I'm going to plug this dude once again: https://blogicarian.blogspot.com/2019/0 ... guage.html

He learned to read (well enough to translate from) Arabic, Catalan, Classical Chinese, Esperanto, Dutch, French, Ancient Greek, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Occitan, Old English, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romani, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Welsh, Yiddish and probably a couple more I missed (https://poemsintranslation.blogspot.com ... tions.html). Don't know about his conversational abilities though, especially in stuff like Old English, though he does do live readings of ancient languages on his Youtube channel.

People all have their tips and tricks for acqusition through reading but the bottom line seems to be that you have to really really like literature.
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby einzelne » Mon May 10, 2021 9:19 pm

mokibao wrote:I'm going to plug this dude once again: https://blogicarian.blogspot.com/2019/0 ... guage.html.


Thank for this link! I'm interested in the experience of those who study languages mainly for reading hard/classical etc texts in a foreign language.

Regarding the OP: since graded readers are (theoretically) based on high-frequency words, I think it's wise to learn all words by heart (passive recognition). Everyone has their own ways of vocabulary reviewing. I prefer to underline unknown words and write translations on the margin and then review vocabulary time and then (+ if I happen to have an audiobook, I relisten to it in my dead time: riding a bike, walking my dog etc).

When I switch to unadapted texts, I use iPad and underline unknown words and try to review them time and then. I never studied Asian languages but here's an article worth reading.
Last edited by einzelne on Tue May 11, 2021 4:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby jmar257 » Tue May 11, 2021 1:18 pm

einzelne wrote:When I switch to unadapted texts, I use iPad and underline unknown words and try to review them time and then. I never studies Asian languages but here's an article worth reading.

This is similar to what I do. I start out reading books on iPad in the Kindle app and highlight sentences that contain words that I don't know (assuming it seems like a word/sentence I want to keep). Then I convert them to Anki flashcards whenever the book is done (I think this is easier with an actual Kindle, but since I'm using the iPad app I have a workaround): I export from the desktop app the highlights to html, run a python script that will scrape it and run it through Google's cloud translate API, then export to csv which I can load into Anki. When I read paper books I don't worry about this at all, I just read (although I'm normally sitting by my computer and if I'm really curious/stumped, will google a word).

Sometimes words from these flashcards stick, but I find they're more useful for priming the pump; I feel like I've had more cases where I see a word again in the wild that I have on my flashcards and it really sticks vs. just acquiring it well from the flashcards. I can definitely tell a difference in the number of highlights I have now for French vs. when I started reading extensively (less now, as less is unknown).

Edit: I don't necessarily think this is the best method, by the way. There's probably more effective ones, but for me this hits a sweet spot of time/effort required and result, and it's better than JUST reading in my experience and opinion. You could probably be more assiduous with flashcard techniques and get a greater result, but this keeps me not dreading reading since reading is supposed to be a fun, relaxing activity (although sometimes I'm in the mood and will read passages intensively). And I think it is better than finding random sentences online, as having a story you remember is a "hook" that can serve as extra context (beyond the other words in the sentence) when trying to remember what the unknown word(s) means.
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby Sayonaroo » Wed May 12, 2021 1:10 am

I like making parallel text with deepL. I've been doing with chinese. It's very helpful! I did this for a chinese youtube vid that's softsubbed since i NEED audio.

https://www.deepl.com/translator

I paste the chinese text and the deepL translation here
https://gillmeister-software.com/online ... -line.aspx
I use ❖ as a prefix for the text

http://www.unit-conversion.info/texttoo ... eaks/#data
I add line breaks before the ❖

end result: I usually have the translation under the target language though. this one is kinda messed up

Image

pinyin is from pinyin reader extension on google chrome and the popup dictionary is either zhongzhong zhongwen or inkah. i use the pinyin reader extension because i don't want to use the hover pop-up dictionary just to get the pinyin which is when I already know what the word means and only want to know the pinyin. it's not worth the effort haha.
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby smallwhite » Wed May 12, 2021 1:29 am

I like to look up every unknown word as I read and then flashcard them. I simply pre-read extensively first.
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby mjb1971 » Wed May 12, 2021 1:10 pm

Thanks again to everyone who posted their specific techniques and methods which they personally use or have used!

I enjoyed reading the post which said (summarized here) “I read snd make flash cards but not to memorize.” As well as “something in addition to just reading.” Perhaps I am just getting comfortable with the ambiguities of these realities vis-a-vis my own practice.
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby IronMike » Sat May 15, 2021 12:03 am

einzelne wrote:I'm interested in the experience of those who study languages mainly for reading hard/classical etc texts in a foreign language.

Then you'll love reading about this guy: The Untranslated.
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Re: Practical Methods for Extensive Reading and Vocabulary Acquisition

Postby leosmith » Thu May 20, 2021 4:38 am

mjb1971 wrote:I am looking forward to specific methods you all have used for extensive reading and vocabulary acquisition!

There is another option for extensive reading when your level is low - use a reading tool. That way you can read normally, and merely mouse over a word if you want to glance at a definition. Click on it if you want to tag it or hear TTS. Export the vocab to an SRS later if you want the extensive experience, but it isn't a requirement. Ime doing this, especially for languages with Chinese characters, is much less painfull than the other options mentioned. Examples of these are LWT (free) OPLingo, Readlang and Lingq (fremium). Full disclosure, I am the owner of OPLingo, but I was using these years before I created my own.
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https://languagecrush.com/reading - try our free multi-language reading tool


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