When we take up a new language, sooner or later we are advised to read more in the chosen language. In many cases, this brilliant idea can confuse new learners, or even demotivate them. Here I am going to explain why the advice is extremely valuable. In addition, I am going to give some tips and tricks about what to read and how to do it correctly.
Why is it important to read?
Well, the most important factor is that you can see all those grammar structures that you had learned already in action. In other words, reading gives you a chance to consciously evaluate your own progress. When you are at a certain stage in your learning journey, you will be exposed to the written language for the first time, which is a great motivation.
Secondly, it is a great way to build your vocabulary. While having text in front of you, you can read at your own pace, make pauses in order to grasp the meaning of phrases. Also, as time progresses you will figure out a certain pattern of words collocating with one another. On top of that, reading is a good way not only to immerse yourself in the language but into the culture as well.
What to read?
If you are just a beginner or your level of proficiency is not that high to read fiction stories, you can always start with books for kids. Usually, the sentences are simple and the plot is quite engaging. Another option is to find books based on levels of language proficiency. The only drawback of this group of books is that the choice is not that great. But, if it is the first time you are reading something in your chosen language and just want to test the water, these books will do the job. Nevertheless, try to select something that will be interesting, so you will stick to your new hobby longer.
How to read?
Many new learners make the same mistake. They take a book in one hand and a dictionary in the other. It is the road to nowhere… Instead of a dictionary, take a pencil. While you are reading, underline words that you come across over and over again. Secondly, underline words that prevent you from understanding the main idea. Again, don’t be in a hurry to look up all those words. I think you should first master the phonetic art of reading, and derive pleasure from it.
To make it a more pleasant process, decide on the number of pages you will be reading without reaching for a dictionary. For instance, 10 pages. After that, look through the underlined words to see which ones are really worth writing down into your vocabulary. Focus on verbs, prepositions, adjectives, opposites, and nouns. And remember to note down not only a word or phrase but also the sentence. By doing this, you will develop the so-called ‘sense of a language.’ And the last tip here, try not to write down way too many words. Let’s be honest, you won’t be able to memorize all those words. Take three to five words from a page.
Now it is time for dictionary work. Having your list in front of you, you can look up the words. But again, think critically, if you are really going to use those lexical units in your regular practice. If your answer is no, ultimately, you can cross that word out of the list and search for another one.
The bottom line
Taking up reading a book in a foreign language is a slow routine. But once you have stuck to it, you will benefit from it. Let me say that by developing reading skills you are planting seeds for your writing experience. Be patient, enjoy the process and your coffee!