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  1. #1
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    Default Language Learning Through Books (not language learning books.)

    Has anyone tried this? As in straight out just buying a book that one does not fully comprehend? Sort of like dropping yourself into another country, while you have your handy-dandy dictionary around to sort of make out what everything is saying?

    I plan to buy a book that I have some basic knowledge of how to read. But I'd say 90% of trying to go through that book involves going through each word and translating it for myself to understand. I think I may, during free time, try to at least translate one page a day towards English while rewriting the words so that I can refer back to what I just translated and read.

    It's a fantasy novel. What caught my eye was the book cover. But when I sifted through the pages, there was no pictures in sight, all text in a different language.

  2. #2
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    Blah, not sure if the question was weird or not or that it hasn't really been done before because it isn't common.

    Basically all I want to do is read a book in a different language as a way to learn a new language.

  3. #3
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    Yes, I've done it. More than once. As you suggested, it's best to have at least some kind of minimal familiarity with the language to start with. Then you can read the book with a dictionary at your side; I also like to xerox some charts of basic verb conjugations from a grammar book (and declensional conjugations, if that's appropriate) and have them with me as well in order to help with oblique forms.

    But to be honest, that's a pretty slow and labor-intensive way to read a book or learn a language. (ETA: Also, if the book has a lot of colloquial speech or slang or jargon, that's all going to make the book a lot harder to read and understand.)

    Across the years, I've found dual-language books much more accessible: The ones with a foreign language on one page and the English translation on the opposing page. Then you can read along and learn the words without having to look up each and every one in a separate dictionary. You read and learn much more quickly; and the one book is much more portable for purposes of reading while on the subway or whatever.

    Go ahead and do it your way to start with; but when you get tired of screwing around with dictionaries and verb charts, try a dual-language book. And if you can't find a dual-language book for your language (if it's one of the more exotic languages), then special-order a Harry Potter book in that language and read it side-by-side with the same Harry Potter book in English. (Harry Potter books have been translated into nearly every language in the world.)

  4. #4
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    It's easier to do with video games or movies. I've met so many people who spoke English as a second language and they've sworn that watching movies in English (with subtitles in their own language to make the connections) was the best way to learn. It also helps because you become accustomed to the verbal rhythms of the language as well as colloquial speech (which is more realistic to what you would encounter).
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    It's easier to do with video games or movies. I've met so many people who spoke English as a second language and they've sworn that watching movies in English (with subtitles in their own language to make the connections) was the best way to learn. It also helps because you become accustomed to the verbal rhythms of the language as well as colloquial speech (which is more realistic to what you would encounter).
    You're talking more about the spoken side, as opposed to reading and grammar. There are a number of various techniques for picking up the spoken language, depending on one's preference.

  6. #6
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    I've read a bit of a german book Jung suggested that has never been translated to English, to understand a particular function better, and I've picked up some interesting words.

    It might work if you have serious intent with the matter. I have already taken two years of German in high school, so that was kind of a boost towards comprehension...

    I bought the Dhammapada in Pali with this in mind as well - not that I intend to understand Pali, I just want to know the original phrasings of what's going on.

  7. #7
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    It's easier to do with video games or movies. I've met so many people who spoke English as a second language and they've sworn that watching movies in English (with subtitles in their own language to make the connections) was the best way to learn. It also helps because you become accustomed to the verbal rhythms of the language as well as colloquial speech (which is more realistic to what you would encounter).
    I want to be able to improve reading and writing comprehension. Basically, if I didn't know English, I would want to be able to read and type English without sounding like a foreigner. For that, I would need to learn the vocabulary, and lots of it. In a lot of languages, what we say and what we write tends to be markedly different. So I am willing to start with how one read and types and gradually move towards speech as my reading and writing vocabulary increases. Possibly buy then, I can read and type the language online with people who know the language. From what I remember, there are a few members of TypoC where English isn't their primary language?

    Although I do watch films in said language, having translations at the bottom of the film is distracting for me. I tend to focus more on the translated words than the actual speech.

    Quote Originally Posted by FLD View Post
    Yes, I've done it. More than once. As you suggested, it's best to have at least some kind of minimal familiarity with the language to start with. Then you can read the book with a dictionary at your side; I also like to xerox some charts of basic verb conjugations from a grammar book (and declensional conjugations, if that's appropriate) and have them with me as well in order to help with oblique forms.

    But to be honest, that's a pretty slow and labor-intensive way to read a book or learn a language. (ETA: Also, if the book has a lot of colloquial speech or slang or jargon, that's all going to make the book a lot harder to read and understand.)

    Across the years, I've found dual-language books much more accessible: The ones with a foreign language on one page and the English translation on the opposing page. Then you can read along and learn the words without having to look up each and every one in a separate dictionary. You read and learn much more quickly; and the one book is much more portable for purposes of reading while on the subway or whatever.

    Go ahead and do it your way to start with; but when you get tired of screwing around with dictionaries and verb charts, try a dual-language book. And if you can't find a dual-language book for your language (if it's one of the more exotic languages), then special-order a Harry Potter book in that language and read it side-by-side with the same Harry Potter book in English. (Harry Potter books have been translated into nearly every language in the world.)
    I just feel that is is easier to retain information when I am immersed with just the language, and that, if there is something I don't understand, I look through a dictionary to find out.

    I plan to translate a page or a few and post it on language learning forums of some sort and have people check to see if I made any sense. My hope is that I get better and faster at reading and somewhere along the way of reading the novel, the frequency of using a dictionary or someone else translation diminishes as time goes on (because I'm looking at similar words or phrases being used.) Presumably, after a few books, the need for translation would become rare. I'd assume it will take me about a year or so to just get through two books.

    I do know that it is a slow and arduous task, however, but I think it would be rewarding when a translation is no longer needed.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kyli_ryan's Avatar
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    I think that this might be an easier and more beneficial technique if you use texts that you have a general knowledge of too...

    While trying to improve my French, I bought a copy of "The Stranger" in the original French, and since I knew the main plot in English, it helped a lot in keeping it from feeling too tedious. It's also easier to make connections to your own language this way to remember words.

  9. #9
    Senior Member kyli_ryan's Avatar
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    I think that this might be an easier and more beneficial technique if you use texts that you have a general knowledge of too...

    While trying to improve my French, I bought a copy of "The Stranger" in the original French, and since I knew the main plot in English, it helped a lot in keeping it from feeling too tedious. It's also easier to make connections to your own language this way to remember words.

  10. #10
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    I've found it makes a tremendous difference if you're interested in the topic you're reading about in a foreign language. Nevertheless, as someone once said (I'm paraphrasing,) no language is learned without tears.

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