Extensive Reading Works: And That Means Real Books
What LingQ does, LingQ is a tool, it's like training wheels. It gets you to a point where you can now read a book and not have to look things up.
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here. Today I want to talk about why books are so important in language learning. Remember if you enjoy these videos, please subscribe, click on the bell for notifications. Books.
What do I mean by books? Paper books. All right. Now you may be surprised to hear me say that books are so important and, but I'll tell you why I think they're important and the role of the computer, or, you know, iPhone, iPad, LingQ in language or anything, and how that fits in with books. First of all, it's also a matter of personal preference, but if I have a book like this, you know, I'm not going to be distracted.
All right. I can't go and check my Twitter feed. Um, there's no lights coming at me. I'm just sort of connecting with, with whatever is written in this book, uh, background of paper that hopefully isn't glossy. I find that very comfortable. I enjoy doing that. I think there is research to show that we learn better reading from a traditional source like this, rather than reading on a screen, even on an iPhone screen or a computer screen.
So that's one thing, it's comfortable. The second thing about books is that it's so important in our language learning activity, in terms of the content that we use, in terms of the different activities that we have in terms of the different ways, you know, we approach sometimes the same material is very important to have a variety.
So I like books and I like books where I'm able to access some of the material that I've been studying at LingQ on my iPad, for example. So the function of the, uh, of LingQ specifically is to get us to a stage where we can read a book. In fact, the origin of LingQ was that I was reading books in Spanish and German, and constantly coming across words that I didn't know, and I would underline them and make lists and look them up.
And then I would stop looking them up and I would forget them. And it was just very inefficient. What LingQ does, LingQ is a tool, it's like training wheels. It gets you to a point point where you can now read a book and not have to look things up. I should add that before LingQ I used to have readers where there would be a glossary after each lesson, but here again, it's very distracting to be flipping back and forth to the glossary.
The glossary may have the word that you're looking for very often it doesn't. On the other hand, um, words they have on their glossary, most of them are words you already know, because there's no way the person who wrote the book can anticipate which words you know and which words you don't know. So in a way, the, the point of LingQ is, is to sort of bypass that stage of the reader with, uh, with the vocabulary list and get you to the point where you can ignore the few words that you don't know, because you now know 95% of the words.
So the goal with LingQ is to make you independent of LingQ. So, uh, I'm reminded, I think there was a parable by Zhuangzi the Taoist, Chinese philosopher, who said something about, uh, once the fishermen needs the fish trap to catch the fish. And once he's got the fish, he doesn't need the fish trap anymore.
And then he went on to... I can't remember what it was, but it's a typical cryptic, uh, parable. Uh, I need words for me and once I have the meaning, I don't need the words anymore. Something to that effect. I should've looked it up. In fact, I may just go look for it. Link to it from the description box, but the point is LingQ is that kind of a, a fish trap. It's to get you to a level where you can read in books, because to me that is the most enjoyable way to engage with the language. Reading is for acquiring vocabulary. Uh, but listening, as I've said before, is to get used to the language. And even there, you don't want to always have to rely on LingQ to understand what you're listening to.
You want to get to the point, I want to get to the point where I can just go in there, pick up my podcast, understand it all, uh, watch a movie, understand it all. So LingQ is sort of a range of tools to get, to get you to a point where you can enjoy the language, the way native speakers enjoy the language and, and a goal should be to be able to read books.
You know, I think to myself, you know, if, if for whatever reason, the technology around MP3 files and audio recording and so forth had come first before writing, and then all of a sudden someone discovered the ability to, you know, with the sort of short annotation system, writing system to record what people are saying on paper.
Let's say we didn't have paper. We didn't have means of writing. And all of a sudden we have it, uh, you know, would that, would people have been interested in that or would they just rely on, on audio? Because after all, historically it was the storytellers who, um, you know, kept literature alive. So if you didn't have to write things down and you could record it, would that mean you didn't need it?
And I personally would still be interested in reading. I think it's a wonderful, uh, activity for the brain to read the symbols and to convert these symbols into meaning. It's, it's a very demanding thing to do. It's a, quite a different type of activity than, uh, listening to something. And I find that activity is most pleasant when it is on paper, as opposed to sort of this active screen with the temptation to fly off elsewhere.
So whenever I see books, um, you know, intended for learners of the language and eventually books, you know, intended for native speakers, I have a tendency to buy these. You'll see all the books behind me. I've got so many of these books. Surprisingly, most of them I have read, but many I haven't yet read. And nowadays they are getting a little better, you know, so I bought these books on Arabic.
Uh, one series is put... I don't have the other one here, but one is put out by Yale and they have a place where you can go online and get the audio recording. Unfortunately, they don't give you, you can't download the audio file. You can just listen to it online. I can listen to it on my iPad while I exercise in the morning, but I can't download it .
Also, they don't give you the electronic text. And that would, of course enable me to save words and phrases so I could import it to LingQ, go through it with my training wheels on, at LingQ, acquire the words and phrases. And then again, read it in the book, which is sort of reinforcing it, doing, covering the same material, but in a different format, which is a conventional paper book, but they don't do that.
And that's been my experience elsewhere that books like this, they will never facilitate the learning of the language through their material by enabling you to access, uh, eText or download audio files. However, another one, ah, here we are this one, uh, because I'm into Egypt and Arabic. So I found this other series that is put out by the university of Cairo.
And they've got a tremendous range, uh, number of audio files, which I can download. Uh, I, I can't access the, uh, eText for these, uh, lessons, but I have ordered the books from Amazon. So I'm going to be listening to the Egyptian Arabic audio files, and then I'll be looking forward to reading them on paper. Not ideal because as I say, they, the goal is to read on paper, but I need the training wheels to get my vocabulary up to a level where I can enjoy the books.
So I think I sent them an email saying, can I, any way you could send me the Etext for these, but I don't expect to hear back. Cause every time I, uh, emailed these publishers, I also emailed the Yale, uh, bookstore and said any way I can get the eText and the audio files, and I don't expect to hear back, but even without that, I find it very enjoyable to read books in the languages that I'm learning.
Even if I have to devise strategies and, and search for resources online, uh, to power me up to a point where I can really, you know, enjoy those books, but enjoying books, real books printed on paper is not only a goal, but I think it takes you to that next level in language learning. So I don't think that electronic books, Kindles, e-books are going to make, uh, paper books disappear.
So I wanted to talk a bit about why books are important in language learning as well as reading for enjoyment. Bye for now.