How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

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german2k01
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How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby german2k01 » Sun Oct 03, 2021 7:56 pm

Hello Guys,

I am more interested in knowing about your personal experiences in regards to achieving the above-mentioned feat in your target languages.
That will help me to determine what sort of efforts still await me when it comes to reading books fluently in German.
I came across a post on reddit by someone who had cleared C2 level in the official Goethe exam. He put the number to 50 books in total.
In 17 months of learning German, to date, I have read 26 books in total. A handful of online articles but not many maybe 15-20 articles.
I am far from reading books fluently and it is still a work in progress.

Any inputs you can share with me will be highly appreciated. That will show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby rdearman » Sun Oct 03, 2021 8:11 pm

We have the super challenge here where the goal is to read 100 books and watch 100 films. I have done that a couple of times and I am not C2. I can read, but still look up a lot of words.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby german2k01 » Sun Oct 03, 2021 8:52 pm

rdearman wrote:We have the super challenge here where the goal is to read 100 books and watch 100 films. I have done that a couple of times and I am not C2. I can read, but still look up a lot of words.


And, what is the timeline set for achieving those two goals? What were those two languages in your case?
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby Iversen » Sun Oct 03, 2021 11:31 pm

I have looked several words up in English today - and I started learning that language around 1960. However if you accept the ability to read texts in a language with very few lookups (or cases where I might have understood the text better with a few peeks in a dictionary) then I have read stuff in at least a dozen languages, but rarely full books - and I have no idea about how many hours it took me to get there (I don't count hours).

So to cut down on the details let me take one simple case - Portuguese! In the late 70s I followed a comparative Romance language course at the university where we had to 'read' parts of "Vidas Secas" by Ramos - and I definitely needed to spell my way through that book with a dictionary. It was like solving sudokus, but luckily I knew some Spanish to make the task easier. And then nothing happened until november 2006, where I booked a trip to Cabo Verde and succeeded in learning the rudiments of the Portuguese language in a couple of weeks - enough to communicate by telephone with a local travel agency lady down there in a mix between Spanish and Portuguese. Four months later (April 2007) I had learnt enough to survive a monolingual trip to Maputo in Moçambique - except when I was about to be thrown out of my hotel because my travel agency at home only had booked two nights. But because I could prove that I had for paid four nights they let me stay (and because the agency at home accepted by fax to pay the difference) - I switched to English for THAT discussion!

The first substantial things I read in Portuguese were popular science mags, which I bought in Portugal on several trips from June 2007 onwards - and as far as I remember I read them on location without a dictionary. But when rdearman mentions a challenge where you have to read 100 books then I have to confess on my crying knees that I have read less than ten full books all in all in Portuguese - although I did read at least three of them plus the magazines without any recourse to dictionaries (ie. Harry Potter III which took me around three hours while flying home from Algarve in 1912, "2010" by Arthur C Clarke at the library in Tomar in 2017 and a Lusophone guidebook to Natal in Brazil in 2019).

So now I have a problem. You could say that it took me at least thirty years to become a fluent reader, and that I have read less than ten books in all plus some magazines plus shorter texts, and I ought to be ashamed of myself. Or you could also say that I learnt the basis of Portuguese in less than a month, and that I could have real conversations about broken refrigerators, reconfirmation of flight tickets and sundry other topics in Maputo just four months later and read "Super Interesante" in June the same year, and then things suddenly look somewhat brighter for me and my tattered reputation.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby iguanamon » Sun Oct 03, 2021 11:49 pm

Everything about the Super Challenge is here. Having read some of your posts, it's unclear to me if you have completed a basic course in German before you started LR, or after LR.

I'm going to give you some observations based on what I see from your posting. You seem to be looking for "the magic bullet" and, well, it doesn't exist. There are many ways to self-learn a language, many methods. Self language-learning, by definition is very individual. Almost every one of us approaches it differently. Probably most people start with a course and work their way up from there. Some jump all the way into native materials and place significantly less importance on courses. Some never met a course they didn't like and will do a bunch of them. For a big, economically important language like German, there are a lot of resources available. Most people are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between all course and all native materials.

You can read about my approach in my log and my signature link to the multi-track approach. In my years on the forum (this one and the prior HTLAL), I've seen a lot of people come and go. The ones who tend to stay around and be successful, regardless of their initial approach, have something in common- they read a lot and listen a lot (not talking about the LR method). Most are not methodical about the process. I can't tell you exactly how much audio I listened to, or read, in Spanish, Portuguese or any other language I've learned. If I were asked, I would say "enough". There is no precise formula. I know that's not the answer you are looking for. Neither is there a magic bullet.

You will know when you have read enough when you don't have to look up so many words... and that can change depending upon the books you read, until you have consolidated a sufficient amount of vocabulary and grammar knowledge to be able to read easily in almost any novel or non-fiction with subjects you are familiar. How long does it take? It takes what it takes. It may take months for some people or even a few years. It also depends on how far you want to take a language and what you want to do with it. Do you want to discuss philosophy in German, physics, programming, engineering, or do you want to be able to converse about everyday life with people? Do you even want to speak and write, or do you want to listen and to read? Or do you want to do everything? The process will vary according to your needs.

We had a member here a few years ago, who was an American living in Germany (patrick, iirc). He was married to a German woman. He'd read dozens of books in every genre. He'd watched a load of films. He still couldn't master the use of prepositions and some case endings because he had enough German to get by and didn't really practice speaking and writing so much. It wasn't until he did that he started to master German.

I'm learning Catalan right now. I came to it from having learned Spanish, Portuguese and Ladino/Djudeo-espanyol on my own. The grammar was mostly familiar to me as was a lot of the vocabulary. I was able to read and listen from the beginning and that's what I did. It wasn't as easy as my other similar languages, but the more I read and listened- the better I understood. I've probably done about a half of a super challenge in reading and listening in Catalan (if I were keeping count). I still look up words (not a lot). I still miss words listening (not as many). I write and chat some, but not nearly as much as I will want to later, at the present moment I want to consolidate vocabulary and grammar.

The thing is, it takes time. It takes a lot more time than most people want to believe or accept. 21st Century life has given us unrealistic expectations. It seems like we want what we want and we want it NOW! These expectations are not compatible with learning a language beyond superficially. I'm not saying that you have these expectations, but they do have an influence on our thinking to a certain degree. In self language-learning, patience is a virtue. So is doing a good thorough course and grammar study alongside all that listening and reading. Just my opinion.

My vague answer to your question is that if you complete a super challenge- 5,000 pages and 100 hours of listening (or its equivalent from other "non-challenge accepted" sources), you will be well on your way to where you want to be with a language. Add in a good, thorough course, writing and speaking if you can... and you will be onto a winning formula. Good luck!

Edit: Iversen hasn't read a lot of "books" but he has certainly read the equivalent number of "pages" from other sources that aren't books, :). Have a look at his log, he's always reading something, just not books.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Mon Oct 04, 2021 1:14 am

I’ve read twelve books in French. I never use a dictionary when I read and I read pretty comfortably. The secret is to just not care about understanding everything. This works just fine for popular fiction, and would probably work less well for physics. What do you want to do with German? You may already be where you need to be.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Mon Oct 04, 2021 2:31 pm

iguanamon wrote:We had a member here a few years ago, who was an American living in Germany (patrick, iirc). He was married to a German woman. He'd read dozens of books in every genre. He'd watched a load of films. He still couldn't master the use of prepositions and some case endings because he had enough German to get by and didn't really practice speaking and writing so much. It wasn't until he did that he started to master German.


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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby gsbod » Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:31 pm

German: a couple of years dabbling on and off, followed by 4 years consistent effort including classes, textbooks, meet ups, flashcards, intensive reading of transcripts on Deutsche Welle, a couple of dozen books (mostly genre fiction) and several episodes of Tatort, among other things.

My reading is good enough now that I don't need a dictionary, but still choose to use one from time to time.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby jmar257 » Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:00 pm

I've got a hair above 7k pages read in Spanish (not including articles, about 17 books) and almost 2M words (including LingQ articles, but not some others) read and I'd say I'm pretty comfortable reading in Spanish. This depends on what I'm reading, however--I feel like you could give me just about any contemporary spy thriller novel and I would be perfectly fine on account of how many of those I have read in Spanish. I also read some linguistics/history/pop sci but have not read as much as the aforementioned, and feel okay without a dictionary with those provided they don't get too technical. I'm less than half those numbers in French and can definitely tell that there's several levels between my French and Spanish, even just in terms of reading.

Ultimately this comes down to what language you're learning and probably how often you practice--those 17 books were spread over several years, I'm sure I'd have seen better returns had I done it in a more concentrated manner. German will probably be a bit harder than Spanish but not as bad as something with less cognates--I have no illusions that reading 17 books in, say, Arabic would bring me anywhere near the level I'm at in Spanish, since I benefit from grammatical and lexical similarities. FWIW my study methods weren't super systematic for Spanish either, I've gone through both Assimil levels (lazily) as well as FSI, had I been more methodical and/or done more courses the later reading would probably have had an even bigger effect. As much as I enjoy tracking the numbers at the end of the day you just have to learn to enjoy reading and make it a part of your life, I don't think there's some magical number where it all clicks. I still think I've gotten a good level in Spanish then will occasionally notice a jump in reading ability and realize I wasn't as good as previously thought.
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Re: How long did it take you to do "Free Flow Reading" without dictionary in your TL?

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:59 pm

Everything you do besides reading matters too. My German and French reading abilities are roughly equal, despite having read only seven books in German. But I formally studied all of German grammar, lived in Germany for a year, attended college classes in German…. (I should have read more books while I was there, but this was 20+ years ago, well before I knew about massive input! I just got frustrated trying and failing to read Schiller instead of gorging on Krimis!). I’m a better all-rounder in German, in terms of being somewhat capable in all four domains. With French I’ve focused on listening and reading almost exclusively, and it’s paid off, but at the expense of speaking and writing.

So what do you want from German?
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