What is your Mindset when you Read and Listen?

OK, so I’m a little bit confused lately about what I should be trying to do whilst reading and listening…

Should we focus on intensive listening/reading for the most part? Is there a magic ratio between intensive and passive (i.e understanding, but not worrying too much about deliberate learning)?

I guess a mix of the two would be good, but at what kind of ratio? For me, I’d say it’s like a 90/10 split in favour of intensive/studious consumption.

I’d be interested to know if other people do it differently?

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I personally do not pay any attention to these issues at all while reading and/or listening. As long as I have the feeling that I understand it well enough I am satisfied.


What do you mean exactly by “intensive”, “passive”, and “deliberate”?
I mostly just read and try to notice (as Steve puts it) how sentences are constructed and what words have been chosen. I don’t consider that “passive” at all. Only rarely do I make any significant effort to memorize words as I go and I do not test myself as I read.

By ‘intensive’ I meant deliberate practice, which basically means I study every sentence, I might read it a number of times, rewrite it sometimes, think of a different way to say it (or at least try to), try to read/listen to it and then try to recall it word for word, I could go on. You get the idea.

By ‘passive’ I mean I just read or listen without stopping, without looking up words and not worrying about parts I don’t understand. I think they call it ‘extensive reading’ when talking about reading.

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I fear that some of my reading/listening has become too passive. I recognize but need to go a bit further if I want to be able to speak. So I have started to write my own (very) brief summaries of some of the mini stories, and tell them to my (who is fluent in my target language).

idk it seems that one needs patience, time, work (some of it challenging), lots and lots of listening, and–what worked for me with French–a girlfriend who couldn’t speak a work of English :wink:

I see. In that case, I guess I do something in between. I mostly read on Lingq, which I like precisely because it hepls me do the kind o reading I find more efficient: reading mostly continuously, focusing on the story but looking up every word throurh Lilngq’s system. I do pay attention to language structure, grammar, etc a I read and sometimes stop briefly to look further information about particular words (pronunciation, conjugation, declension, …) but I mostly keep on reading.
I find that separating input practice, such as reading, from output practice, such as talking or writing, works best for me because it allows me to increase the input part and thus exposure, which is which helps most.

So, to answer you original question directly: no, you don’t have to concentrate on “intensive” reading for the most part. Any exposure to the language in which you:
a) Understand the message
b) Notice elements of how the message is conveyed
will help you progress and consistency trumps everything else

When we set out to learn our first foreign language, we tend to start out with a very “deliberate” approach. We analyze, memorize, and grammarize, the hell out of it. But once you get really good in a language or two, you realize that most of that is pointless. With Spanish, all I’ve been doing is “passive” reading and listening, and I’ve been able to advance faster than with any “deliberate“ method I’ve done before.


For reading, if I am familiar with at least 98% of the words, then I do Extensive Reading (reading without stopping), and lookup the new words after reading. If I am familiar with less than 98% of the words, then I do Intensive Reading, where I stop to lookup new words and figure out what it means. However, I do not make an effort to memorize anything.

Paul Nation recommends doing 75% Extensive Reading and 25% Intensive Reading. However, I just choose material that I am interested in, and determine if Extensive or Intensive reading is more appropriate for the material.

For listening, it is similar. If I have a high enough comprehension level, then I listen for the general meaning, and I notice the grammar, structure, etc. Otherwise, I listen with full attention and try to understand exactly what they are saying.

First of all reading is very very important to improve vocabulary, as well as listening will also help but that should be repeated. Then implementation ans continue the process…

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I’ve had the exact same experience as t_harangi. The only goal when reading and listening should be to understand the meaning. That’s it. With enough of that you will begin to learn the language subconsciously. Any deliberate learning or memorization is largely ineffective .


agree, same with you.

I listen audio-books when i drive or walk my dogs. As for reading, I do it when I have time, which basically means every evening and all day long over the weekend. I don’t know, it’s just relaxing, probably because I like the books I am reading or listening to.

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