Monday, 5 October 2015

Language Learning Tips and Tricks: Tip 3

Get some fiction books you would love to read

Reading is one of the most effective means of learning a language. There won't be any output (your writing and speaking) without any input (your reading and listening). Since writers' means to create a fiction reality in its every detail is through language alone (no video or audio to help out!) reading is a pretty powerful means for you to acquire all necessary and even detailed vocabulary. You might even end up creating another Marcel Proust's lilacs!


Make sure these books are not too difficult for you to read, i.e. only about 5% of all the words are unknown as the idea here is to 'allow the words to wash around you, like music' as R.Dahl once put it in his famous 'Matilda', so that you learn to dance, I would add. And you don't want to keep stumbling over unknown words and difficult phrases all the time, do you?

Some people might not even think about reading, 'Books? There is no way I can read books with my elementary level!' That's where you are not quite right as British would put it, i.e. completely wrong! It will not be easy at the start of course but the earlier you do start reading books the better. And yes, there are books for elementary level too! If you study English, check out Penguin Books. Some of their adapted books come with CDs for you to entertain yourself while driving, for example.

But what about those 5%? you might want to ask. Do I just ignore unknown words? Or do I look them up? Do I learn them?

Well, I wouldn't worry about looking up and learning every unknown word you come across. Let the words wash around you, enjoy the music of the language, let the story capture you and find if Perry will beat the triangles invading his body or they will eat him up alive.

But if an unknown word is a key word and you cannot understand what's going on without knowing it, or if you have come across a word several times and would love to know what it means then I would say definitely look it up. Or even better drop it into one of your vocBlocks, which means you will kill two birds with one stone, i.e. look it up in the vocBlocks' built in dictionary and capture this word for learning it later.

Learning it will actually be easy-peasy as you will recall the context in which it was used. Capturing it in vocBlocks will make sure you are making the most of your time spent reading a book, as there is nothing more frustrating (and unproductive!) than to keep bumping into a word the meaning of which you still cannot remember or into a clever/useful phrase you have sworn you will be using yourself but still cannot recall when you need it.

And if you are a control freak like me and like things in life to be filed, colour coded and shelved in strict order based on a certain system which works like clockwork, then you might find it exciting to expand your vocabulary topically. Say, you have come across a name of an animal which is not already in the ready vocBlock 'Wild Animals', so you add it to your copy of this ready vocBlock and learn it along with other words on this topic.

And one more thing, please PLEASE try to choose modern authors if your reading time is limited! Even if you are Charles Dickens' fan (which I am with no doubt) please understand that no one speaks this language any more and the reality described is a little bit different now too! So, if you have just read Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Niggers' I wouldn't shout the title out loud as the n-word is socially unacceptable and you can get into trouble as did Top Gear guy Jeremy Clarkson!

But you wouldn't have read about the incident with Jeremy Clarkson in a book so next post is about non-fiction. Don't miss it!

Let us know about a great book you would recommend to a BFF in the comments below.

You might also like other tips and tricks:

Tip 1. Choose a good and fun study book

Tip 2. Get a good self study grammar book

Tip 4. Choose some non-fiction read including newspapers

Tip 5. Choose some movies, TV series and comedy shows you would love to watch

Tip 6. Get some of your favourite songs with lyrics

Tip 7. Connect with someone who has good level of your target language, native speaker ideally

Pressed for time and cannot read it all? Check out our slides with these tips and tricks.

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