Starting this blog has put me in contact with some fantastic people who help me as I go about learning and improving the languages I speak. One of those people is Catherine Wentworth, the creator of womenlearnthai.com. Recently we had a fantastic opportunity to talk about reading. We discussed the benefits of not stopping to look up every word. Reading, not fast, but naturally. The brain learns and understands differently than if we stop every other word to look up the meaning and grammar of each word we don’t know.
This conversation helped me change how I practice reading. When I read Spanish, I use a program called Learning with Text. You can find out more about how to use it here at this website. Learning with texts, allows me to take real Spanish I find on the web, put it in the program and as I find words and phrases I need to look up, it helps me to quickly do so.
Prior to my conversations with Catherine, I used to spend a lot of time laboring over each word to make sure I got the correct nuance. Now I read the same text a couple of times. First without stopping, but without skipping any words. Then I go back and look up words I don’t know, but still trying to not to stop very long. I then read it again without stopping. Once I feel I got a B, or in other words I understand about 80 percent of it. Then I go on to a new text. It’s been a fantastic system
This week is Thai week and my goal this week was to improve, among other things, my ability to read Thai newspapers. I have read the first 4 harry potter books, The Book of Mormon and the New Testament in Thai, Yet I still have had a difficult time reading an article in a Thai Newspaper. Part of its vocabulary and some of it is the style. Don’t even get me started on the acronyms. But I decided to take my own advice and make my weakness my strength.
There is just one problem. Learning with Text is not built around the way Thai is written, specifically the lack of Spaces between words. This has long been a point of frustration for me. Then I found two tools that do the job almost as good. They are the bulk look up tools found at Thai2english.com and thai-language.com. They both do a pretty good job of separating the words and looking the up for you.
First I read a paragraph without stopping. Then I use the bulk look up tool of Thai2English. I read the paragraph there at their site, looking up any words I don’t know as I go. Then I do it again with Thai-language.com. Finally I reread it again without stopping at all. Once I feel I comprehend 80 percent or more, than I go on, otherwise I go another cycle.
The point is to avoid stopping and lingering. Your brain will make more and better connection with the language if it keeps a Macro perspective. Use tools to help you so you don’t have to stop long and always go back and try again, but only if you understand less than 80 percent of what you read. Trust me, you will enjoy what you read much more this way.