fluencyTIP 15-06 : Read 15 Minutes Every Day

fluencytip-15-06-read-dailyWhile you can’t do so immediately, once you know enough of a language one of the best ways to improve is to read for 15 minutes a day … without using your dictionary or any other study aid.

In fact, at this point, the worst thing you could do is to consult any study aid of any kind. For you are focusing on exposure to the language, not comprehension.

Let me repeat that:

… at this point, the worst thing you could do is to consult any study aid of any kind. For you are focusing on exposure to the language, not comprehension.

One more time for good measure:

… at this point, the worst thing you could do is to consult any study aid of any kind. For you are focusing on exposure to the language, not comprehension.

The idea is to develop a feeling for how the language functions as it is actually used, not “study.” The quickest and in many ways easiest way to develop that “feel” is to simply read without stopping to check anything.

Don’t look up words you don’t know.

Just read for 15 minutes every day.

Don’t check grammar points you are unclear about.

Just read for 15 minutes every day.

Don’t ask anyone to explain anything to you.

Just read for 15 minutes every day.

In short:

JUST READ!

If you focus on reading rather than comprehension, you will expose yourself to enough of the language to develop an internal understanding of how it works. Plus, the vocabulary and grammar will begin to make sense faster than if you’re always reaching for your dictionary; which you should be sitting on, not reaching for.

So, what should you read?

Obviously, you shouldn’t start with a highly technical journal article or a book in a specialized topic. They give even native speakers problems.

Believe it or not, regardless of what you may think of them, one of the best things to read when you begin the practice of reading for 15 minutes every day is the free sheets or tabloids as they are sometimes called.

They are deliberately written in at lower reading level than the “better” newspapers. And use the most common words in the language, not the more difficult or obscure ones. Which makes them fairly easy to read and comprehend, and an excellent source of basic vocabulary. Better still, as you see the vocabulary in the context of several articles you will begin to understand what it means as used, rather than as defined by your dictionary.

Once your reading skills are further along, you can “graduate” to more difficult material like “real” newspapers, magazine articles, and internet sites devoted to topics you are interested in.

Meanwhile, simply read easier to understand and digest material like the tabloids for 15 minutes a day. In six months you will be amazed at how well you read and understand your target language.

Have fun reading!

Larry

PS: One more thing: Don’t mistake the tabloids for “real” newspapers. They aren’t. But they are an excellent source of basic, easy to understand, light reading material that contains many of the words you need to know and understand in your target language.

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4 responses to “fluencyTIP 15-06 : Read 15 Minutes Every Day

  1. I studied Russian at uni, but later got a job where I didn’t have to use it. A few years ago, I decided to make a point of reading a bit of Russian every day so as not to lose my fluency (such as it was). I didn’t set a minimum, and have only rarely missed at least reading a paragraph every day, and usually a page or two. It’s one of the best things I ever did and as a result, I’ve read The Master and Margarita, Children of the Arbat, Anna Karenina, The Tales of Belkin and Queen of Spades and loads of Chekhov stories all in their original language. Am currently ploughing through War and Peace (it’ll probably take me all year!)

    • Thanks for the comment. Glad to hear it worked for you. I’m heading to Austria soon. So, I need to start reading some German EVERY DAY! as per my own advice! Which actually originated with my NT Greek professor in seminary.

      Just one thing about your comment: good luck with War and Peace! … … … 🙂
      I plowed through all but the last 100 or so pages when I was in high school, albeit, in English.
      I simply got to the point that I could not keep track of the plot, let alone the characters; who all seemed to have 5 or 6 names depending on whose point of view was being presented by the author. So, I took it back to the library and have not touched it since.

      Just thinking about reading it makes my head spin! So, my hat is off to anyone who can read it in any language! ESPECIALLY Russian!!! … … 😉

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