I just read this article on http://www.fluenteveryyear.com/2010/05/the-first-book-you-read-in-a-foreign-language/.
I think he makes a very interesting point. An adult learning a new language needs a lot of repetition of basic words, yet doesn’t want “Janet and John” style content. Books on Feng Shui might well bridge the gap between lessons and simple novels. I shall have to try one when I get back into Japanese!
I also read this article. I agree with you that a Feng Shui book can have many basic common words, and they are repeated through the book. Sometimes simple novels seem easy, but they still have a lot of vocabulary.
Anyway, with Lingq, it’s easier to keep track new vocabulary you come across in a book or article.
As Steve has often pointed out…interesting learning content is key. I have a son that is age 6 and still learning how to read in school. Much of the school introduced content involves animals talking to each other, and silly stories that are very feminine in content and interest. No wonder young boys seem to have such difficulty learning how to read! There have been several studies on the feminisation of education, and not to start a political debate, but if the reading education in school was more about cars and trucks, girls would probably have difficulty warming to reading as boys.
I’ve read some children’s books in my target language…and it was quite fun, especially in the beginning, to realize that I was reading a real book, rather than just a reader! That said…the novelty wares off, and the content is important.
For my children…it is difficult, but possible to find reading material that they enjoy and are interested in. Likewise, I think adults can find interesting learning content through children’s books, especially at the beginning level. Junior novels can also be very interesting to adults, and written at a lower language level.
Non-Fiction books are difficult to find at lower reading levels, but it is still possible to locate them.
I agree with Shon. The key is to find things of interest to read and listen to. If we concentrate on one subject, like economics, or gardening, we will learn the terms for that subject. For those who are interested in Feng Shui then reading about Feng Shui would be great, but not for those who have no interest in the subject. I find that concentrating on certain authors is a good way to make reading easier.
"Easy" texts are usually those with a lot of familiar vocabulary.
A random page from a children’s book can be more difficult than an average news article or facts about your main topic of interest. This is true for me at least.
I agree with Jeff, and have never found children’s stories easy. The vocabulary is full of the names of animals flowers and fairies and such. Nor am I usually that interested.
I actually agree with both of you when it comes to content. As Jeff said…a random page in a children’s book can be harder to read than an average news article. Most children’s books have little content that I am interested in, although I have found a few exceptions, and they are exceptions rather than the rule.
A wise man once told me, “If you want to study something complex, but know nothing about it, start by reading a children’s book on the issue.”
There are a variety of books written at a child’s level, that are really about adult interests. Usually such books are written for educational purposes (and written more for the adults than the children, lol). These kinds of books are not going to be that popular with kids, and might not be that easy to locate.
Take a book about the stock market for example. I picked that example, because I couldn’t think of an adult subject that a child would hate to read about more. I can buy a children’s book about stock market investing on Amazon.com (I won’t post the link here, but they exist). After learning the vocabulary in the children’s book…It will then be much easier to read about the subject in magazines and news papers.
There are children’s books about historical figures, and every day kinds of things…but I agree…if I was reading about about flowers and fairies…I wouldn’t last that long…even if it was in my native language!
AS an example, there is a Russian traditional fairy tale in the Russian library, that after 2 years of hard lingQing, still has over 50% of unknown words for me, compared with about 25% for a chapter of Harry Potter, and 30% for a chapter of The Lord of the Rings. Anna Karenina has only about 21% unknown words per chapter. Tolstoy must have had a really sparse writing style!
Because I am a software engineer, at university I had to read a lot of technical English, so same expressions and vocabulary appeared over and over. Finally they became very familiar for me. So like you say, if we concentrate in one subject, we’ll learn the vocabulary and expressions for that subject.