What sort of content should you aim for if your sole goal is to communicate fluently in the real world ? Is it better to spend time on reading/listening novels? or is it better to spend time on watching talk shows or celebrity interviews on youtube/other websites?
If you are pressed for time, and all you have got is “2 hours” per day. How are you going to spend it on accomplishing your goal? (read my first sentence again for reference.) The other day I was watching Steve’s videos on youtube channel. He goes right into historical and difficult stuff right in his beginning stage of learning. I mean, the language is used in books is quite different from that of real conversational language that most people encounter with on a regular basis atleast in terms of vocabulary and grammar usage. However, he can get away with it since he has a different goal to achieve but most learners have different needs.
I think, for the most part, the best kind of content is the kind that will keep you wanting to read/listen more of. If it’s interesting, it will keep you will keep you coming back to learn more, and you’ll feel more desire to understand the content instead of just making it through the text. I tried for a long time to study Japanese by studying what I thought would be the “best” thing to study, and ended up getting bored every time, and when I got bored, I gave up.
To get around that with LingQ, I found a subject I had an interest in (in this case, it’s mostly video games, because I’m a bit of a nerd) and started reading about that. I now listen to podcasts on the subject as well, whereas before I was listening to the radio as that seems like it would be “better” to learn a more general vocabulary, but as soon as I switched to podcasts on the subject that interests me (and the subject I’m also reading about), my learning started accelerating. Not only do I listen for a few hours a day, at the end of the day, I want to listen to more.
While what I’m learning won’t be exactly what is usually spoken/written in a more broad sense, there’s a large overlap. Say, for example, you chose history (as in your example with Steve), you’re going to end up learning a lot of words which aren’t general use (to pick an example at random, let’s say “trebuchet”), but most of the words which make up sentences are not that specific. In the basic description on Wikipedia it has “A trebuchet is a type of catapult that works by using the energy of a raised counterweight to throw the projectile”. Most of those words are general use and very useful to learn, even if “trebuchet”, “counterweight” and arguably “catapult” are not.
I think it all depends. What’s “real world”? For example, when I lived in Italy most of my friends were literature students -like me. Then, we used to talk about books, semiotic, linguistic and literature theory. In this kind of context is more useful to know what is “metanarrative” than to know what’s is a shower. This is a good reason to you to study what you like, because probably you will use this specific vocabulary when you will try to speak with other people about what interests you.
Ok, I understand that you will not talk only about 3 or 4 subjects, but I think you can learn without problems what’s a “shower”, hahaha, in daily life. At my point of view, is much more important to habituate yourself with the sonority, new constructions, etc and it’s more easy to do this with an interesting material.
I just notice that even "very fluent and expert " speakers have a problem understanding vocabulary words in their daily interactions. Ok. I know the word “sobriquet” which I have just picked up from reading a novel “Lincolin Lawyer” but is it okay to use it in a day to day interaction with ordinary people. I mean, the simple word “nickname” should do the job. There are so many unknown and such words that you might come across while you are reading novels but I’m wondering what’s the point of learning and using them when the other listener might not know it and you might not be able to be understood by them. Perhaps I will need to figure out the right kind of content that has casual vocabulary that everybody uses on a daily basis from work enviornment to normal exchanges at hotel or on street or at a university. That’s what I meant by “real world” not “specific subjects”. I feel like sometimes it is not a good idea to spend so much time on reading novels because you perhaps end up using too many uncommon words in your daily interactions and might sound odd.