Is there any benefit to reading without a dictionary, anyone tried it?

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Yes, using a dictionary yields your moniker - probably not what you thought it meant.

Read a lot read all the time and watch television and movies.

Thanks for reply elguero, do you do this a lot, reading without a dictionary, I have been using a lot of texts with translation but it only makes sense that sometime you just got to start reading right, can you offer me some more advice on this if you have any any?

Many people and many studies have tried it. That is the best way to increase vocabulary according to experts. It’s called Extensive reading. It’s challenging but beneficial. Most of my spanish has been without a dictionary…I don’t like refering to a dictionary; it feels like work to me and slows down what I want to understand (which is the general story, not the minor details). I find that if you spend a short time on ANKI etc and just click through a few thousand of the most frequent words, then you will come across those words in real context when you read and not need the dictionary so much. I don’t do ANKI generally but short intensive periods make my reading much more enjoyable. ANKI keeps the words in my working memory for when I return to reading. You will pick up other words as a result.

The stop-start reading with a dictionary is called Intensive reading and is very beneficial too but more time consuming. The only limitation is quantity. Research experts want you over 1 million words; preferably over 3 million to see really good results. Hope this helps.


…over 1 million words extensively with material from your level that is…

Personally, I prefer stopping every time I find a word I don’t know. It could be tedious, but I think it’s worth the effort.

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When I read in Japanese, I rely heavily on the dictionary. I look up everything that’s unknown or unclear to me - be it grammatical patterns, colloquial expressions, kanji or words. When I read in English however (my native language is Swedish), I seldom or never use the dictionary. That’s because I already know most of what’s going on; say, more than 97%, depending on what kind of text it is. In this situation, I think “extensive reading” is most beneficial. I have enough understandable content to help me fill in the gaps, so to speak. But if the level of comprehension is below maybe 95%, I think “intensive reading” is the best way to go.

“Many people and many studies have tried it. That is the best way to increase vocabulary according to experts. It’s called Extensive reading.”

Is there any hard empirical evidence to back this claim up?
I had not heard of the term “extensive reading” before, so I Googled it a bit; it’s an interesting concept, but expert opinion seems to be divided from what I read.

My own method is to underline words/phrases I don’t understand and look them up later (writing the meaning on the page). I have read many novels in French this way. It can be a bit tedious at times, but the motivation is seeing the results over time.

Still, if the efficiency of the “extensive reading” approach could be demonstrated, I would probably prefer it.

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@ Jamie

Are you asking which is better, intensive or extensive reading? I’m not sure about whether this comparison can be made.
I think it would be best to use intensive reading when comprehension is low and extensive when comprehension is high (I see how what I wrote might suggest I was saying extensive is better now although at the time I didn’t think of writing it!). The habit of looking at a dictionary might be a barrier to those that use it as an aid regularly though.

I think what I meant to say originally is that extensive reading (at your comprehension level) is encouraged as a great way for vocab acquisition because it carries with it full context and meaning. I remember reading a japanese study and the results were great but I can’t locate it now. For all I know you can learn way more through SRS? How do you define efficiency? The author of the Goldlist believes that his method is more efficient than SRS in terms of hours…

I just wondered if there were any studies on extensive reading that suggest it is a more efficient technique over dictionary look-up methods.

I probably agree though with you , that it gets better the more advanced your comprehension is; the flip-side of this is, of course, that the more advanced your comprehension is, the less onerous looking up unknown words and phrases is!

I have read with a dictionary and without. I’ve tried underlining in a physical copy. Also slowly and quickly. I’ve found benefits with each. My “method” is to read using or not using whatever method or gray area between methods I feel like using or not using. Basically if it keeps me reading I don’t care if it adheres to a category. Just about any way of reading has merit, but there is no need to be idealistic/authoritarian if you find it tedious.

@elguero “Yes, using a dictionary yields your moniker - probably not what you thought it meant.” You don’t sound like a pleasant person to interact with. There are many legitimate reasons Tuquiero might have selected that username. Why would you spend half your “response” pointing one you find illegitimate? Was that you being “fair” again? These questions are rhetorical.