How do you approach reading lessons?

I have been using Lingq for more than two years now. I usually read a lesson once, but recently I have taken to reading one lesson over and over again.

I have the feeling that I used to learn a lot more when I ploughed through texts instead of deliberately reading and rereading a text until I know everything in it. On the other hand, I feel more confident when I am reading one text over and over again until I understand a good 80-90% of it. I cannot judge which attitude is more beneficial/effective.

What is your attitude to reading? Are you getting through as many texts as possible, or are you sitting on a text until you understand 80-90% of it? What results have you seen pursuing either approach?

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Hi, readpathsofglory!

It depends on the language level, but my general recommendation would be:

A1-A2 level:

  • Re-reading while listening 3-5 times at a slower pace, i.e. 0.9x or 1.0 x (plus re-listening alone several times later)
  • However, before doing this I´d use some warm up approaches first if the language to be aquired is more distant to my L1 / my other L2s (e.g. learning the 1000-3000 most frequent words using an SRS such as Memrise; Pimsleur; Assimil; a grammar light approach Ă  la Michel Thomas, etc.).

From a B1 level upwards to reach an advanced level (C1 and higher):

Hope that helps
Peter

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Hi readpathsofglory. I looked at your stats to see where you’re at, but you have several languages at different levels. French appears to be the one you’re focused on at the moment.

In the beginning I think it makes sense to do some repeating, particularly for true beginners. I think it should be done on shorter material (lessons under a few minutes in length). I do NOT think you should repeat until you know all the words. In other words, if you are having difficulty on some words, move on after a handful of repeat readings. My reason for this is that there are words you will simply get “stuck” on. You shouldn’t slow down your overall progress due to these words…there will be so many more words that will stick that you simply should just move on. These “difficult” words, you’ll see in other contexts that may help and frankly you may learn them, forget them, relearn them many times over. Don’t let these slow your progress.

After getting to the point where you are starting to read longer and more interesting material (beginning intermediate and beyond) I think it makes sense to move away from the repetition of reading the lessons again. If their short, go ahead if you tolerate it, but I think it’s mostly unnecessary. One thing you can do if you want some extra reps on the yellow words is jump through the lesson to the yellow words and read them in context (including sentences before and after if necessary) to try to understand them in context. Of course with the new auto-increment of reading stats in LingQ 5.0 this may throw that number out of whack (you can subtract the words from the counts later if necessary).

And honestly…if you think repeating reading sucks…don’t bother re-reading. There’s plenty here that don’t re-read anything that have made it to high levels.

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“I do NOT think you should repeat until you know all the words. In other words, if you are having difficulty on some words, move on after a handful of repeat readings. My reason for this is that there are words you will simply get “stuck” on. You shouldn’t slow down your overall progress due to these words…there will be so many more words that will stick that you simply should just move on. These “difficult” words, you’ll see in other contexts that may help and frankly you may learn them, forget them, relearn them many times over. Don’t let these slow your progress.”

Yep, throw as much spaghetti against the wall as you can and see what sticks, then scoop up the stuff that doesn’t and throw it again. That way you will have a spaghetti covered wall much faster than if you try to stick them one at a time.

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I never ever ever reread anything. I have no idea what is best. I just can’t be bothered reading anything more than once.

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LOL. I like the analogy

Thank you for your reply. When I was reading Russian (which I am still doing, though less intensely), I never reread anything and I got through a lot of material. I am pleased with the progress I have made in Russian that way.

With French, I took to rereading a lesson I had read before and felt that I learnt a lot more. That’s what triggered my curiosity about rereading. Your comments about rereading are in accord with my intuition about rereading, but I wanted to see whether anybody has experienced more growth in ability by rereading whole lessons.

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Why doing this instead of reading more at beginner level stuff on LingQ? It’s a natural SRS approach anyway. Most frequent words will come natural anyway on beginner level stuff. And for having a grammar overview Youtube can definitely help. (Without talking about too distant or too rare languages).

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I don’t know what is better to be honest. I certainly don’t think repeating hurts as you are reinforcing both the unknown words and words you already know. Even the latter is very important as it increases speed of recognition as well as ultimately removing the need to translate in your head. So I think it’s mostly a matter of what you can tolerate in terms of repetition, but I think one also needs to make sure they keep pushing forward with material that features new words or else they’ll be stuck “reviewing” all the time.

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Well, Davide, if I wanted to learn Dutch or Italian right now, I wouldn’t need any warm-up approaches because these languages share the basic ideas of the Germanic / Romance language families.

For Asian languages such as Japanese, it’s a different ball game:

  1. The communication style is completely different
    That is: There´s a tendency in Indo-European cultures to attribute a behavior to an actor, whereas Asian cultures tend to highlight contextual factors (situational constraints, etc.) - see the “fundamental attribution error” in social psychology:

“It has been suggested cultural differences occur in attribution error:[28] people from individualistic (Western) cultures are reportedly more prone to the error while people from collectivistic cultures are less prone.[29] Based on cartoon-figure presentations to Japanese and American subjects, it has been suggested that collectivist subjects may be more influenced by information from context (for instance being influenced more by surrounding faces in judging facial expressions[30]). Alternatively, individualist subjects may favor processing of focal objects, rather than contexts.[31] Others suggest Western individualism is associated with viewing both oneself and others as independent agents, therefore focusing more on individuals rather than contextual details.” (Fundamental attribution error - Wikipedia)

My thesis based on various intercultural / communicative research is therefore:
In Japanese communication processes, actors tend to “invisibilize themselves” and highlight the social harmony of the social relationship, instead.
In contrast, European / Western communication processes tend to highlight the role of the individual actor(s).

  1. This basic communication pattern also affects the Japanese language / grammar itself:
    Japanese follows a non-egocentric perspective in contrast to English (and other Indo-European languages), which follows an egocentric perspective.

For some background info, see these highly instructive videos by “Cure Dolly”:

If Indo-European learners don´t understand such basic distinctions right from the start, they´re likely to create a complete Indo-European / Japanese “mess” for themselves because they remain prisoners of their Indo-European coordinate system (dito for grammars / textbooks that project the Indo-European “logic” onto Japanese).

In short, simply reading more in Japanese isn’t sufficient…

Note:
Mutatis mutandis, there will be similar problems when Indo-Europeans want to learn other Asian languages such as Vietnamese, Mandarin, etc.

  1. Besides
    I find a “syntactic pattern variation” approach à la Michel Thomas (i.e.: explain some basic grammar structures using short sentences and make those sentences more complex) very helpful in this context.
    As a stand-alone approach, Michel Thomas would be insufficient, but the “Thomas - Assimil” combo is quite powerful!

In contrast, many learners who don’t use such warm-up approaches for their distant L2 and start directly with audio readers à la ReadLang or LingQ will probably fail - esp. if they’re inexperienced.

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Thanks for the answer but I don’t think it answers my question.

A part that who opened this topic is not having this problem I guess, but what you proposed before can be done with LingQ. So my question was why not using LingQ directly (unless it’s a rare language and there is no material for it).

Why should I go with these (Memrise; Pimsleur; Assimil; a grammar light approach à la Michel Thomas) when Youtube+LingQ can do the same. It’s not that you are proposing tools that are very different from LingQ, it’s just a question of material available. That’s why I was curious to know more.

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@readpathsofglory
Instead of re-reading, you could also read once (while listening!) and listen to the text (passage) several times afterwards.

In contrast, reading alone (without any listening) for an extended period of time in a language like French (with such a sophisticated pronunciation, so many contractions, etc.) is a really big mistake.
Because as a beginner/low intermediate, it’s almost impossible to get the French pronunciation, esp. the combination of the words, right just by reading…

In the past, the end result of many of my (German) students in French who didn´t listen enough / at all was that they had internalized messed up pronunciation and intonation patterns.

So in this context, the general question for reading-alone learners (beyond reading once / re-reading) is: Why would someone want to mess up their pronunciation and intonation first and then painstakingly correct it later?

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There is more than one way to skin a cat.
In the beginning, I worked with beginner 2, intermediate 1, and a couple of intermediate 2 lessons (including Steve’s book translated in German) for a few months. Then I bought an audiobook of 2000 common words in German easily available on Audible. Not only I could recognize those 2000 headwords but also in the given example sentences. Therefore, your thinking is also accurate. It is up to you how you go about it.

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Usually I operate with a “mix of approaches and tools”, but never with a cookie cutter approach for all languages, language levels and students.

  • Memrise is great for two things in particular:
  • the most frequent xy words
  • verb conjugation drills

I´d use the most frequent 1000-5000 words as a booster and the verb conjugation drills as a complement to a purely input-based approach (i.e.reading-while listening).
Neither LingQ nor Youtube (not being an SRS) can usually match that at the beginning stages.

  • Pimsleur can be a nice warm-up tool for focusing on the oral dimension (pronunciation, etc.) for a few days / weeks. More of a motivational nice-to-have than a must-have.

  • Assimil is basically a non-flexible-content predecessor of an audio reader such as LingQ.
    Usually, the first thing I´d try to do is to mimic Assimil with LingQ / ReadLang (and Youtube / Audible).

However, if that´s too difficult, I´d use Assimil first before switching to LingQ / ReadLang because it can give you a solid foundation that facilitates the transition to content-flexible audio reader software.

  • Basic syntactic pattern approaches Ă  la Michel Thomas are extremely useful when you need to get a feel for the L2 without drowning yourself in grammar structures and jargon.

That´s esp. the case when the syntax structures are completely different from the basic Indo-European SVO pattern (Japanese, for instance, follows a particle-based SOV pattern).

Can you mimic this approach with LingQ / ReadLang? To a degree - with the variation of basic patterns in the Mini Stories. But in my experience that´s simply not good (i.e. “deep”) enough…

Schönen Abend
Peter

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This is completely new to me so I’m taking it one word at a time.

Es ist dunkle in Soest…LOL Gute Nacht!

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“There is more than one way to skin a cat.”
Definitely.

My main concern at the beginning of a (language) learning journey is: How do I / does the learner get momentum?
The answer depends in particular on the distance of the L2 to the L1 / the L2s a learner already knows:

  • same language family → no warm-up approaches
  • distant language family (Russian <-> German, etc.) → a small selection of warm-up approaches
  • completely different language family → a larger selection of warm-up approaches

Ja, bei mir auch. Und ich muss morgen um 5 h 30 schon wieder aufstehen… :slight_smile:

Schlaf gut und bis morgen!

Herzliche GrĂĽĂźe nach Soest
Peter

I had an experiment of getting as many texts as possible by myself for 1 month. I think it did not work well for me, easy misunderstood similar words. There was stressful, look like running in fog.
After that, I decided to take time to learn. I reread, look up words, listen a few times a lesson. Then somehow, I started to notice some words, sentences when watching Netflix. It is enjoying learning languages now.

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Thank you for your response. Your experience is similar to mine.

I used to plough through as many texts as possible, but now I realize sticking to a lesson is much more pleasurable when you reread and try to digest it.

I am now thinking of varying my approach. On some days I am going to go through a lot of material, but I will spend half of my time rereading.

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