Once you've started learning your language and you've
mastered the basic structures and at least 1000 words, you can begin to read. Indeed, you
must read, and read authentic material, not texts you find in your textbook. Reading
will challenge your knowledge, increase your vocabulary and make you want to learn more.
And you'll know precisely where you are in the learning of this language, at least from
the passive side (reading/understanding).
Finding something to read or listen to
Once you're started in the language, you need some
stimulation, that is, you need to create some situations in which you want to use the
language. It's easy for many language. Buy books, read newspapers, watch
TV, go to the movies, listen to the radio, all of this in your foreign language. If you
can, try to meet people from the target country. Well, as most readers of the internet now
are Americans, and most Americans want to learn spanish, let's assume you want to learn
spanish. There are so many resources in spanish that your problem becomes one of choice.
And the mere fact that you read this is proof that you have some basic knowledge of the
internet. Did you know that you can listen to Colombian and Paraguayan
radio on the internet ?
Reading in a foreign language
So, now that you have some material in your target language,
you need the right approach. If it's written, find a part (for example an article of El
Financiero) that interests you, and begin to read it. Everytime you find a word
you don't understand, write it down on a blank flash card and
look it up in the dictionary. You can miss some words if there are too many but
if you look them up and don't write them, you can bet your grandmother that the next time
they show up in the text you will have to search them again. And while you're at it, you
can bet your grandfather that they will show up again. This is a strange law, but useful
when you think about it : words you find in an article have a tendency to be used again in
the same article, or book. And it's also true for newspapers. Once you've looked up and
written words like event, occured, investigation, president, declared, etc... ,
you can read most newspaper articles. But remember that you have to write them unless you
want to look them up every time. I can tell you as at first I did not write them, and
these words have the nasty habit of coming to your mind after you looked them up for the
second time "Aaaah now I remember what it meant"-too late. So if already you
made the effort of looking them up, write them. And remember to use flash
cards, because they are so superior and much more convenient to use once you started.
If you make a list you will maybe look at it a couple of times and then forget it.
Don't worry about grammar, it's not a thing to be learned
before, but after. First read a lot, and when you will hear spanish phrases in your head
under the shower, then you can open the grammar book again and see if it's more
At the same time you should go on with your method (books and
tapes), working regularly. Toward the end of the method, you should be at the advanced
learning stage, topic of the next page.
Languages | Definitions | FX Micheloud's