Extensive reading is overrated

most of the people recommend extensive reading to expand vocabulary. however, with extensive reading, it takes forever to get the vocabulary level i want. can you guys suggest a more direct way to expand vocabulary?

There are no shortcuts. Extensive reading takes time because acquiring vocabulary takes time

Read books in parallel bi-lingual format with an adjacent English version; then you don’t need to look up words in the dictionary.

IMHO extensive reading of enjoyable content in parallel bi-lingual format is the best way to increase vocabulary while having fun. See recent post “An Outstanding Polish Resource” here on this forum An Outstanding Polish Resource! - Language Forum @ LingQ and www.lppbooks.com


He’s right Alperen. Put another way, extensive reading IS the shortcut.

The “long way” that takes forever (and where you don’t succeed) is to memorize isolated, out of context words lists, and the dictionary, and then apply all the grammar rules you memorized to those words.


The brain can only put 8 new words into the long term memory per day. Memorise this amount per day and write a text using them. Ask a language exchange partner to correct your small text daily. This is one of the methods I use to learn.

The best way to learn something new is to find an internet community that’s dedicated to the subject, signing up, and then immediately telling them their preferred method is overrated, not because you know something better, but because you think it takes too long, and then, ask them to suggest something better. Works every time.


I don’t think that it’s overrated. I think that it takes 3-4 years to reach fluency in English if you’re not speaking an European language. However if you keep reading it pays off eventually. I think that if someone wants to see the benefits of the system then he/she should use it at least 6 months.( I’ve been using it for more than a year but 3 - 4 months ago I decided to make a fresh start and wanted to use the system more effectively so I deleted my stats.) I don’t know what level you’d like to get to but I know that LingQ is working for me and obviously for other people here and its English library is very rich.

Only 8? That’s certainly not true. In a year, you can reach a decent level of ability in almost any language. Meanwhile, 8 words a day times 365 days = 2,920 words, which is far less that what can be accomplished by most people.

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Yeah, that’s definitely wrong. Assuming 1.5 hours a day, I’m willing to bet it’s closer to 20-50 words per day depending on how you go about it, what language you are learning, and what level you are shooting for.

The point is that you learn and forget, learn and forget, learn and forget until you’re up to around 30,000 words (say an English speaker learning a Romance language to fluency).


We all are just too impatient.
Yes, the language study takes a lot of time.
It depends on us to enjoy it or to consider our study as a burden.
Yet our life takes all our time as well.
However, only during our life we can be happy.

There is no universal method of language learning.
The most of us like reading. That’s why it can’t be overrated for us.
We read not only to acquire new words. We read because it’s interesting for us.
And at the same time, we can acquire some new words, some new set word combinations, some new ideas - and so we form our new language. It’s interesting and enjoyable, at least for me.

But if you don’t like reading, you can just listen and receive new words from listening.
If you don’t like listening to the texts, you can listen to some songs.
I remember I started to be interested in English since I listened to the songs of Beatles and Rolling Stones.

And my last point - it is not so important to expand vocabulary up to a very big number.
The more important thing in our language study - to use our acquired vocabulary in an active way.
It’s better to know only 10,000 words but to be able to use them actively than to understand 100,000 words by reading but not to be able to use them actively, during some spontaneous conversations.


I am going to have to agree with the two way more experienced learners than myself above.

“Put another way, extensive reading IS the shortcut.”

Well put - loved it!

Works every time?

“…I remember I started to be interested in English since I listened to the songs of Beatles and Rolling Stones…”

So English started here? :slight_smile:

And maybe German started here? :smiley:

Politics, Clugston and memorizing words- three topics you should avoid in order to prevent getting into fights on this forum my friend. I learnt this the hard way!

However, and this is purely for research purposes, I’m not admitting to using any of these things myself of course; there are three systematic approaches that I have seen for expanding your vocabulary without fully relying on reading:

*Flashcards- Spaced repetition systems such as Anki, Supermemo, paper flashcards, etc.

*General Memorization techniques such as Memory Palaces (Roman room,) the Story Method, making associations, etc.

*Word lists- Writing words on a notepad and reviewing them every day, the Iversen Word list method, the Gold List Method, etc.

Best of luck.

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Yes, something similar.
But we didn’t have YouTube that time, we had only clumsy big ‘Tonbandgeräte’ (tape-recorders) und rerecorded these songs from our neighbour who was a sailor and was able to buy some ‘vinils’ (Schallplatten) with Beatles and Rolling Stones in the UK.
We were very proud and very young!

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I asked a co-worker what his son did to pass a vocabulary-based college entry exam. He said his son basically memorized word lists. There was a website that provided several years worth of these tests in order for people to practice. For the harder ones, he used mnemonics.

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Clugston rules!

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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I have actually softened my attitude towards Christophe Clugston somewhat.

I think it may be the case that his techniques (which are apparently based on the over-learning language drills used by the US government to train diplomats and military personnel) could be very effective if applied correctly and consistently over a period of many months.

Whether the average learner could realistically sustain this kind of hardcore punishment-routine without having some powerful and pressing motivation to learn is perhaps another matter…