When used correctly, reading can be one of the best ways to learn languages. It allows you to take all the time you need to analyze the sentences and look up the words you don’t know. There is an abundant amount of material available in most languages. However, reading can also be a huge motivation killer if used incorrectly. If you are a beginner and pick up a 500-page novel as your first book, you might have to look up every single word in the dictionary. What a daunting task! That’s no fun! The worst part is that you’ll have a very hard time remembering any of those words. In this post, we will look at the right way to use reading to learn languages.
If you have never heard of comprehensible input before, it simply means that the general message of what you are reading or listening to needs to be understandable to some extent for language acquisition. This is a hypothesis from linguist Stephen Krashen, who has written a lot of publications on second-language acquisition. It is something you should consider when either listening or reading something to learn a language. If you read or hear something and don’t understand a single word, it is very unlikely that you will learn anything from it, even if you listen or read it a thousand times. On the other hand, if you understand the general message or idea, you will learn lots of other words from context.
It’s essential to find material that is appropriate for our current level. Many languages, including the ones we teach in Ouino, have some similarities to English. You should be able to make out at least a bit of vocabulary, even as a complete beginner, especially when reading. But, we want more than that, right? So how do we find things that are comprehensible right from the start?
There are books written for children of all ages. These books have been written to be comprehensible by people learning their very first language. They contain very short and simple sentences, often supported by very clear images. Although the subject matter can be childish, or even silly, they can be great for adults learning a second language. Buying them can be expensive, since you will not spend nearly as much time with them as a child would. But you may be able to find some foreign language books at your local library or even online. You can quickly go up the age groups as you gain more vocabulary.
In our language-learning program, we have created 60 short stories that were specifically written with language learning in mind. These stories use very simple vocabulary and grammar. They let you focus on one sentence at a time and they are supported by English whenever you don’t understand something. We have divided them into three levels and created an interface that lets you control the stories to fit your current level. These stories are an awesome way to start learning from day one and they will help you reach a higher level where you feel comfortable reading more complex books. Luckily, if you don’t have the Ouino program, there are a few other ways to find or make incomprehensible material more comprehensible.
These types of books use your native language to make content comprehensible. If you read a sentence in English, then read the same sentence in your target language, you will understand a lot more. When you reach a higher level, you can use the English only as a reference when you don’t understand something. The good thing about these types of books is that you don’t need many of them to gain lots of vocabulary. The only real downside to bilingual books is that they aren’t all that widespread. Depending on the language you want to learn, the selection may be limited. You should still be able to find several titles in many languages. For research purposes, bilingual books can also be called “parallel text books” or “dual-language books”.
Another great way to make something more comprehensible is to already know the story. Find a book that you love and that you have already read a few times. The “Harry Potter” series and “The Little Prince” are popular choices for language learning because many people have read them as a child and they have been translated in so many languages. If you go through the entire Harry Potter series in a new language, you will have gained an incredible amount of vocabulary by the end of it. Perhaps a bit more vocabulary about magic and fantasy creatures than you actually need, but still. If you have not read Harry Potter, choose any popular book that you love and try to find it in your target language.
No matter which method you decide to use, simply remember to choose material that is understandable to some extent. You need to enjoy and have a general idea of the story line. People often underestimate the power of reading to acquire a new language, that’s why we have created a reading section in OUINO. But in the end, it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as it is entertaining, comprehensible and enjoyable, you will learn a lot from it. Remember that the very beginning is the hardest part. Everything you read will eventually become comprehensible and you won’t have to go out of your way to try and find effective material to read.
We have combined everything we know from years of language acquisition and research to create an awesome language-learning method. Visit OUINO.com to learn more.
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