French Week 9 – Leverage and the Desert Planet

New blog entry here:

Week 9 target: 8279 known words.
Week 9 result: 8482 known words.

Something that seems so important to me in learning a language, is this little thing called leverage. Using knowledge or skill in one field to increase your ability in another. And the more you get into learning a language the more you notice this at work. Reading massively increases your vocabulary and passive knowledge of phrases which improves your listening powers. Then you can use these abilities to leverage up to being able to write and then speak in the language. You also leverage your knowledge of similar languages to understand your target language – knowing Spanish and English are powerful tools for learning to read French. In a similar way you leverage context to figure out unknown words.

And of course you also leverage your knowledge of the subjects and content, making educated guesses about meaning in your new language. I think this is why adults can potentially learn a language quicker than children: we just have so much more knowledge to use as a tool to crack the code of a new language.

Which brings me to the Desert Planet. There are very few books that I re-read. But one book I never seem to tire of is Frank Herbert’s Dune. I’ve read in twice in English, once in Spanish and last week I started reading it in French on LingQ. Reading in LingQ provides its own form of leverage, because of the inbuilt dictionaries and the ability to clearly see the new words, and the phrases you’ve already noticed. But I am also leveraging the fact I know this novel inside out in two other languages, so that there is no chance of me getting lost, even though it is stuffed with French words I don’t know. This is why it is not reasonable to determine what level a learner should be reading based purely on the amount of new or unknown words on a page or in a text. A learner is always bringing to the party so much more than their knowledge of the target language. Their tolerance of noise in text, their knowledge of similar languages, the tools they’re using (in this case LingQ), their knowledge of the text etc.

Week 10 target: 9182 known words.


Nice :slight_smile:
I’m considering reading some books in Italian myself even though I am far behind in vocabulary when compared to you. But I’m a bit tired of basic conversations haha.

Well as I try and say in the post, there is nothing stopping you going ahead and doing it if you’ve got a combination of motivation, prior knowledge of the text and the right tools. I wouldn’t try and read a book of the same level of difficulty as Dune, that I hadn’t already read before in another language.

Yeah, I’m thinking about trying to read a book I am already familiar with :slight_smile:
Or perhaps I’ll try reading “the linguist” by Steve, I’ve heard its Italian version is quite easy to read even for beginners. Plus, I can also double check with the English version :slight_smile:

I recommend The Linguist. It was my first book in Spanish and French.

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I also have read The Linguist as my first book in Italian here on linqg.

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Then I guess The Linguist it is :slight_smile:

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I agree! I spend a lot of my time reading books that I have read already in English in another language. They would be beyond my level had I not read them already, and even further if I didn’t have LingQ, but things are it is just the most enjoyable way to learn - interesting material made immediately accessible in another language with the right tools and prior knowledge.

I even learnt the Russian alphabet by listening to each word of a book I’d read in English to work out what the individual sounds were, straight in at the deep end because I could. Knowing roughly how the words fit together before I started allowed me to focus on the individual letters whilst not getting frustrated at the time it was taking (now I have been treated to this experience my Persian is suffering for lack of a similar tool).