Intensive or extensive reading?

which one is more efficient?i’m trying to read this french book called the peste not very difficult but they are some unknown words i don’t know if to skip over these words and continue reading or look them up which can slow down comprehension
like i use to in the past with other languages and i don’t know if i have to find the audio book version

There is an excellent recording of La peste - read by Christian Gonon - that is worth every penny. Gonon’s voice is fantastic.

I have found that I really dislike intensive reading, and almost never do it lol. Even when I started in German or Romanian, I just took a book (and audiobook) that I knew very well (Harry Potter series, Dan Brown), and I would just listen and read, and just enjoy the flow of the story. If you already know the story, you dont get lost, and it all picks up really quickly ^_^. After doing that for quite a few books, I have found that I can now access novels and TV series etc :).

I just skip words I dont know, and just enjoy the story. At first, a page makes sense, then slowly each paragraph, then sentence, and then finally, after a lot of exposure, individual words start becoming really clear :slight_smile:

(at least this was my experience)

yes that was my way for a long time too intensive reading .cause i didn’t have a choice

Interestingly enough, but both kinds of reading are useful and important.
When I was learning English, I was reading quickly some long interesting story not paying attention to the most words but catching the essence of the plot.
But after that or at the same time of that I chose one page of this story and looked up all unknown words of it.
THis combined method helped me a lot by studying and I can recommend you to all learners.

Hi :slight_smile:

Did you not find it painful to then go back to a page and reread and analyse it? I feel like it really ruins the whole enjoyment of getting involved with the story? (just curious, you obviously must enjoy that :slight_smile: )

No, no!.. If you would like to know the language better and not only superficiently, you can’t avoid also a such deep immersion in new words.
But not to get bored you have to combine both types of reading - and I wrote about it above.
However, I don’t like argueing - you can have your own opinion.

Oh Im not arguing ^_^, I completely get that you and many others will find this technique good :). I was curious if this didn’t spoil the flow of a story for you, since once I’m immersed, I just can only focus on moving forward into the story lol

@Romnik - I see that you really haven’t used LingQ. I suggest you try reading on LingQ. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it makes reading in a foreign language. I have read half a dozen Italian books in the last year and almost don’t notice I am looking up words and interacting with the vocab. It hardly affects my flow and allows me to understand way better and get into the flow much better. I would not consider reading in any other format. Plus, I have the advantage that my location is marked and I can then access that lesson from any device I want and easily pick up where I left off.


@mark Exactly! I like to think of reading on LingQ as simultaneously intensive and extensive, because it allows you to read quickly, but getting instant dictionary translations and “noticing” grammar points in your LingQ phrases. I am currently intensively/extensively reading all the Harry Potter books in French this way :smiley:


I second that. I feel like I have only ever done intensive reading, but it’s not so miserable with the aid of LingQ. Actually I should add that LingQ alone is not enough. A lot of times I have to put phrases into to get a better translation and see multiple examples, or use the google translate site, it seems that whatever google translate API that LingQ uses is not accessing the upgraded translate engine.

@devunish - I haven’t used contexto.reverso but it looks great! I assume you are using our integration with that dictionary and not manually checking phrases…? Why do you think we aren’t using the most recent google api? I believe there is only one.

Hi Mark, Yes contexto.reverso is great particularly because it provides a large source of human translated examples of the word or phrase you are looking up. You can also see usage examples for a word that has different meaning based on context or word combination.

I use both the integrated context.reverso dictionary popup and the chrome plugin/website, though I tend to use the Chrome plugin more lately. As for the google API issue, I’ve been meaning to open a thread about it, I’ve taken screenshots that show a side by side comparison. Ever since Google switched on Neural Machine Translation (sentence based translation) a few months ago LingQ’s integrated GT shows the old(bad) translations compared to what I am getting when I use the GT website, chrome plugin, GT app on my phone or the popup.

Example: LingQ GT takes ‘se creía un gunter de elite’ and returns ‘gunter elite one thought’ whereas the GT site returns the correct ‘he thought himself an elite gunter’

Thank you

Thanks for letting us know. We’ll look into this. It seems to work fine for me in most cases in Italian. I haven’t noticed this discrepancy but I will watch for it now and we’ll try to see why there would be a difference.

Very true :), I will definitely give it a proper try in a few months when I start learning Russian. Like the comments are mentioning below, LingQ does seem to be a really unique combination of both intensive and extensive reading. Thanks for the insight into your Italian reading Mark! I was always curious whether it spoiled the natural flow of reading, since I will admit, I am a massive fan of paper books, or even printing everything before I read it lol (which is sometimes a bit tiring at the beginning stage where you dont have that independence yet of just chilling with a novel in bed) :slight_smile:

I only do intensive reading because my focus is conversational. I learned all the vocabulary, phrases, memorize it and solidify it during conversations. This makes the reading not so enjoyable but the richness in my conversations make up for it. I did extensive reading with Spanish and it really also helped. There are no bad methods so long as the learner consistently sticks with it.

I tend to skip over and keep going as long as I understand the general idea of what I am reading. I do like to read a similar item following it, so I am sort of repeating my reading. For example, this morning there was a terror raid in Hesse, Germany. I am now reading several related articles to the operation so I get a repetition of the similar vocab that I might have passed over the first or second time I read about it. This method might be harder to do in relation to a book especially a fiction one, but perhaps there is a book with a similar subject / story / style / genre?

I’ll just add I like to use google to find related articles similar to my original one. This mornings after reading the first article I typed “Razzia in Hessen” into google (with speech marks - it is a line meaning ‘Raid in Hess’). Now I have several German news sights all running their own stories on it.

It might seem boring reading very similar stories but I actually find it helpful and the more I read on something I get a better understanding of it and learn words quicker.

In my opinion, I think it depends on the period of learning, I mean at the first period of learning or at the beginning you should read extensively because you at this period just try to discover the language, explore the most usable words, get used to the spelling, adapt with the grammar, and figure out the interesting topics of the language. Then you can start to read intensively of the attractive subjects of the language to use the language for what you aim to.