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Tackling foreign literature

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    Share your ways of tackling books, articles and other forms of literature in the foreign languages you're studying, and how you retain the vocab you learn from it!

    Who knows, many of us might learn something/get some useful advice
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    I have an awful memory for remembering literature so I try and use the word over and over. Also helps if I link the word to an english word. ie, 'iam' is 'now' in Latin. My cats like 'Iams' and they want them 'now'.
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    (Original post by ellathecat)
    Sometimes I have to look up the same word a few times and that can be very frustrating, but then again a lot of new words really stick because you remember the context.
    Do you use flash cards or...?
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    Haha I'm exactly the same ^^ I seem to learn a lot of words passively by just using them in class and not making too much effort...I just think I could be learning more if I went through the effort of flash cards xD
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    I will get round to flashcards, when I finish exams... It's ironic but I think I can learn a lot more in my own time!
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    As it happens I read a lot of Russian books translated into English as a teenager, which has turned out pretty well for me as it means I can now read them in Russian with the general gist already stored in the back of my head. I've also become a great fan of audiobooks - you can put them on while doing something else and just sort of dip in and out of them, and the more times you repeat them (I usually would listen to the same two chapters two or three times before moving on to the next) the more you start picking up repeated words and guessing at them by their context
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    When I'm reading a book just for the enjoyment of it, I just read through it and only look up words that are important in the sentence. I skim past words I don't understand if I can still get the gist. Otherwise with difficult books I'd be constantly looking stuff up.

    Other times, I open up Google Translate so I can look up words and phrases in an instant. Then I find the meaning of every word I don't understand and write it down. Later I put all these words into Anki. (free flashcard program - definitely get it!) Then i review the cards periodically, so that all the vocab sinks in.
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    Also... Even if generally you are against this, it can be good to watch the film version first, or read several plot summaries, or first read it in English. Knowing the general gist of what happens will make understanding much easier.
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    I like to read books out loud, I find it helps things stick in my brain.
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    Luckily for me German's a very logical language, so if you know many core words, you can break down and analyse the larger words.
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    You just read, read and read. How to get a big vocab in Latin? Take the Aeneid, start on page 1 read for two weeks and get to the end. You will have learnt a lot. It's not rocket science.
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    (Original post by ellathecat)
    I usually just read on and don't stop even if there's a word I don't understand, because usually you can guess the meaning (at least near enough) from the context and stopping would hinder the experience. Obviously if a word I don't know is central to understanding the whole text then I'll have to check it. So for me it's a question of what would be more of a problem, not understanding or stopping to look up a word in the dictionary.
    Sometimes you'll notice a word/phrase coming up time and again; then I might write it down and look it up in the dictionary later. Sometimes I have to look up the same word a few times and that can be very frustrating, but then again a lot of new words really stick because you remember the context.
    This is a very good point, actually - context is often one of the most efficient catalysts to learning a new word, and having to stop every few minutes (or more frequently, if you're me ) to look up a new word interrupts your reading rhythm too severely.
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    I find that it's ok as long as I can more or less get the jist of what I'm reading! If there's a word that I have never seen before, I look it up and write it down in a notebook that I keep just for vocab; I have one for each language I study One of my lecturers said that you should avoid reading literature with a dictionary by your side because otherwise, you'll find yourself relying on it for even the simplest of words that you do actually know, you just need to think!
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    My vocab is usually alright, as you can work out quite a lot of the words from the context and relations to English words (well, at least in Spanish). However, I'm studying Juan Rulfo for A-Level, who is Mexican. There are loads of words that only appear in Mexican Spanish, and the language is pretty complicated anyway, so there is a lot of Google Translate going on atm!

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Updated: March 29, 2012
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