Interesting content to difficult for now?

I am currently learning Spanish and become somewhat bored with the content here on Linq and have decided to import a book about Pablo Escobar named - “Matar a Pablo Escobar” but I am having so many yellow words and blue words and very little white words! is this to be expected and shall I just work my way through bit by bit or shall I come back to it later when I have perhaps reached 5k known words?

muchas gracias!

You should read it.

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Bit by bit but if you get tired/frustrated bounce around to other material as well. I will even bounce around within the same book (though this could spoil the plot of course).

Matar a Pablo Escobar is a real challange, i think. (I have seen it on Breaking Bad. It seems interesting.) So yeah, it’s expected. Btw if you haven’t read yet, you can try the Spanish version of Steve Kaufmann’s book, The Linguist. It’s not just good for expanding vocabulary but also for understanding his approach to language learning. His life story is quite interesting as well.


oh really? where could I find this book in Spanish I have heard that it is a good read?!

There you go: Login - LingQ

ilearnlang Would you rate Steve’s book as B2?
I am working through the French version, and I find it less difficult than other material which have been rated B2 here.

That was my experience with German edition, too. I am not entirely sure if that is the case, but as the book is translated from English it might be a bit easier for English speakers to read. Just a guess, though.

muchas gracias

Well, it really depends on you; Are you enjoying reading it? When you start reading a first book in a foreign language there are many words you don’t know, but it’s important to catch at least the general sense of the story, even if you don’t understand all the details. You don’t need to understand every word. Don’t look for the translation of each unknown word, even on Lingq! If there are too many that can soon become very boring. The way I do it at the beginning is for example to read one paragraph without looking for any unknon word and try to get the general idea, I try to guess some of the unknown words. Then I read it again and generally I understand a bit more. If I really don’t get the idea of what they’re talking about or I think I’m missing a very important piece of information, then I can look for some key words that can help me understand. It’s a bit like being a detective.
If there are too many words you don’t know, then you could also look for the English version of the book you’re reading. So if you have both Spanish and English you can check the English version and go back to the Spanish one. That can be more entertaining than checking the translation words by word or sentence by sentence.
And my last idea would be that if it’s really too hard, you could loo for a book you already know in your language, so it would be easier because you already know what’s happening.


Katys, When you feel like you know these words, but kind of you cannot understand them together in a sentence, do you force your mind to read them in the targeted language or do you translate to your native language in your mind?

That sort of “deeper understanding” comes naturally, I think. So far in French I still translate into English almost all the time, whereas in German it happens only when I am not sure about the meaning of a specific word. You will need more input for reading proces to become more natural.

I think at the begining you may need to translate but with practice you start to understand without thinking in your native language. That’s why it’s important to see the words in context, with meaningful sentences, and sentences in meaningful paragraphs. When I read a sentence I don’t understand, sometimes if I keep on reading I get more context and it helps me understand. If I still don’t understand, I read again the hole paragraph. And if I still don’t understand then I check the translation.

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The first book I read in Spanish was the biography of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Since I like to read about football and this athlete in general it was quite easy for me to read the whole book, even without the help of LingQ.

The point I am trying to make is that if you choose content in which you already have a huge interest, you might find that you run trough it rather quickly.

Add on top of that, that you will encounter alot of the same words over and over again in your book, so after a while you will notice progress already.

Personally I like to stay away from content of which more than 20% are unknown words to me, but that preference varies from person to person ofcourse.

Good luck :slight_smile:

As a beginner it is admittedly challenging to find interesting content at one’s level. Steven Krashen, on whose approach Steve Kaufman’s LingQ program was largely built, has said that the most efficient way to learn a foreign language is by being exposed to meaningful content that is mostly understandable to the student. Meaningful content refers to topics that the student is interested in and is thus motivating to the student. Yet having content that is geared to the student’s level is just as critical because then the student is NOT translating every word, but instead is learning and remembering the meaning of phrases through the context and rest of the content that the student ALREADY knows. This is important.
If one tackles content way above one’s level, then it is necessary look up every word which is not efficient. Not only is it extraordinarily slow, but it is doubtful that one will remember all the words. Moreover, there are many things that one will not be able to figure out because there are grammatical constructions and idiomatic phrases, the meaning of which remains mystifying even if one knows each word.
It’s a more effective use of your time – and far more rewarding – to read content that is approximately at your level, where you know most of the words and grammatical constructions. In this way, you are using what you ALREADY know to figure out what you do not.
When you are first starting a language, it IS harder to remember the words and absorb their meaning but I assure you that it becomes easier the more you know, precisely because you will have learned – unconsciously – basic patterns of pronunciation, grammar and meaning. These patterns will in turn help you to decipher new words and constructions. For example, when I first started in Russian, I looked up every word of a cartoon subtitle but I now know what are verbs, adjectives, adverbs and I know the tense of the verb, and the gender and person of who or what is doing the action. Thus, even if I don’t know the meaning of a new verb, I already know a lot about the action and thus can use my knowledge of the nouns and adverbs in the rest of a sentence to figure out what the verb means. For example, in a multiple choice review on LingQ, I may not remember the meaning of a particular word, but I can eliminate the other three choices if they are adjectives, nouns or adverbs when I know that the missing word should be a verb in the present tense, first person singular. If you don’t have that basic foundation about a language yet, then reading more advanced books will be difficult because you don’t have that knowledge – those tools. There are PLENTYof interesting materials at your level available FOR FREE on the internet and perhaps in your library, depending on where you live.
What I am saying is that while it can be interesting from time to time to dip into advanced content and see what you can pickup for a short bit – e.g., from a headline or a paragraph or two – this won’t be as effective as reading/listening/watching content that is more appropriate to your level: that is, with simpler grammatical constructions and using common words that you do need to master since they are invariably necessary to talk about everyday topics.
Personally, I have found children’s stories and cartoons on Youtube very helpful in Russian. For example, there are several stories on Youtube, from Bookbox that have same language subtitles and are available in Spanish, French and Russian (and maybe other languages as well). Got into “settings” to activate the language of the subtitles (CC). I have repeatedly found that anything I have learned in the course of a film I remember more easily precisely because I am seeing and hearing the words in a dramatic setting so there are multiple associations to help fix the meaning. Practice the common words and phrases that YOU want to use from the stories. I learned lots of valuable and basic constructions this way. Other useful sources are newspapers, e.g., El Diario is a Spanish-speaking newspaper from NYC, ABC is a newspaper in Spain, all available online. Go to the articles that interest you. The text is generally clear and the grammar simple and if there are pictures, all the better. There are also Young Adult book series in Spanish that discuss interesting topics (e.g., the Donner Party crossing the Sierra mountains). I found these in a local library here in the US. If you live somewhere which has a significant Spanish-speaking population, then the local library may have diverse materials in Spanish. Magazines are helpful because there are pictures. “Adapted” books are written in simpler language as well. You can also go to Wikipedia on any topic and then switch the language to Spanish to learn about ANYTHING. Explore a lot of different sources; it’s also valuable to hear many different people speaking your target language. With a little research, you CAN find interesting material for beginners!

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I am not sure. Compared to other B2 materials I would rate it somewhere between B1-B2, close to B2.

An advantage of reading a whole book, if you can stick with it, is that the author will repeat a lot of the same words. Each author has his own style and idiosyncratic vocabulary. So it will get easier to some degree as you get farther into the book, and more quickly so than if you bounced between different authors. I cannot say when it is the right time for you to do this, nor with which book. But I have read a few books with Lingq’s help. In addition to boosting my known words it was very enjoyable. It helps if the story is engaging enough to pull you through those deep blue pages.

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I have also noticed the vocabulary repitition with Spanish telenovelas

I still listen to that in the car when I feel like doing some Spanish audio.

Just started reading this book and so far I am really enjoying it! and there are not too many unknown words!