Updated: Jun 4
Whether you prefer books, magazines, newspapers or graphic novels, reading is a great way to expand your vocabulary, and even practice speaking.
Here are six steps you can take to optimize your learning and not get overwhelmed while reading in your target language.
1. Chunk it up
Chunking means breaking up the entire reading into smaller, more digestible pieces. Do this based on your experience and comfort level. If you're just starting out, focus on just a few sentences or one paragraph at a time, and as you progress, work your way toward reading an entire article or chapter at once. Slow and steady wins the race. You'll learn more and gain more confidence by taking your time and building up to more, as opposed to rushing through an entire piece before you're ready.
2. Do multiple read-throughs
Whether you're focusing on one paragraph at a time, or the entire piece, before getting your dictionary out, do an initial read-through without looking anything up. Try to read through it first without stopping. You might be surprised at how much you already understand and recognize. This builds confidence and prepares you for the next read-through by understanding the general idea. Then, use your dictionary for your second read-through to look up new words and phrases. Finally, take your time and read through it as many more times as you like until you feel comfortable with your understanding.
3. Have a good dictionary
Whether it's an online dictionary or a physical copy, having a handy dandy dictionary is essential to learning. As opposed to Google Translate, a dictionary will help you recognize parts of a sentence, word forms and phrases. Oftentimes, an online dictionary will also have examples for pronunciation, idioms and word forms.
4. Read out loud
This is a great way to master your pronunciation, rhythm and accent. Plus, the more opportunities you take to speak, the more comfortable you will feel doing it.
5. Choose articles or books on topics that interest you
Just like reading in your native language, if you're not interested in the topic, you're not going to want or enjoy reading it. By choosing topics that interest you, you'll learn vocabulary about topics you most likely want to talk about, which is a great way to start conversations and increase your desire to speak more.
6. Set a vocabulary limit
If you write down every word and phrase you don't recognize, whether you're a beginner or more advanced, you'll end up with a jumbled list of unorganized vocabulary. Set a limit to 10-20 new words and phrases to record per sitting. These should be words that are used often or are interesting to you. Then, create a set of flash cards or write sentences using these new terms to further practice.
Reading is a great way to expand your vocabulary, master using a dictionary and practice speaking. Just remember, like any other exercise, quality over quantity. It's better to read less, and take your time to understand and practice the vocabulary. This way, you'll gain more confidence and build momentum toward learning more.
PS- Want to advance your German? Book a free consult for German language coaching & lessons with me today!
About the Author
Noelle is an experienced German teacher and coach. After having lived and worked in Germany in 2014, she returned to the US and earned a Second Bachelor of Arts degree in German, from an AATG German Center of Excellence. Currently, she is pursuing her Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation Studies and learning Spanish, French and Russian in her free time. When she is not teaching or traveling, you can find her exploring Texas or spending time with her partner and their two cats.