Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Another Plug for Reading (for fun)

by AJ

The great advantage reading has over direct vocabulary and grammar study is that reading (for fun) delivers authentic meaningful context-rich language.

When you memorize definitions, you do no really learn a word's full meaning. You learn a rough approximation. But you miss the context. You miss the emotional flavor of the word. You have no idea in what kind of situations it is used.

But when you read for fun, you encounter the word in many different contexts. You unconsciously learn the subtle meaning of the word. You learn its emotional flavor and the types of situations it appears in.

This occurs gradually. The first time you see a new word when reading, you might have no clue what it means. Then you see it again and make a guess. You see it a third time and have a little better idea. After 5, 6, 7 times you often have a clear idea of the basic meaning. But after 10-20 times, you get a fairly subtle understanding.

All of this happens automatically as you read and enjoy the story. No need to look up every unknown word in the dictionary. No need to study a glossary or word list. No need to memorize synonyms or definitions.

Its a very pleasurable way to improve grammar and vocabulary. And even better- research shows that its far more effective (in terms of words learned per minute) than is direct vocab study.

So forget the vocab lists and grammar charts. Find a good book in the target language. You should understand about 90% of the words.

And that's all you need. Kick back and enjoy.

(For oral language, movies/TV shows can be used... follow the same 90% comprehensible rule).


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