Whew, been a while. Quite a busy past few weeks. I’ve been working on preparing for graduate school here, which has meant a lot of focus on reading material in Chinese for basic background knowledge. This has lead me to some new methods and theories when it comes to reading in a L2—especially related to academic work. Here’s what I’ve got.
I’ve always been a more academic kind of guy—I love reading. Dusty old tomes are my thing, sitting in a library for hours, reading over a cup of tea, to me that beats sitting in the office any day. Now, granted, the material I am currently reading is dense academic type stuff (國學導讀、中國文學史、中國哲學史、陶淵明集、四書讀本等等), but I think it applies to all kinds of reading, since I also read news articles, manga books, etc.
I’ve read people suggest skipping around to interesting bits, but I’ve always been one to read in order, and I kind of prefer it that way. So I still go in order—though I skip around parts that don’t seem that interesting (like I do in English, actually).
I also don’t look up every unknown word I come across. I just go with the ones that keep on showing up, to the point that I need to look them up anyway. A lot of what helps me is having done my own variant of “Remember the Kanji” for Chinese, so I can get the basic meanings of the sentences.
It’s also good being exposed to this because Chinese can become a very compact language, and only by really reading through this kind of material have I been able to catch how I, too, should abbreviate my words for expediency when typing or writing something up. Plus, context breeds new meanings for words that I never would have expected had I not read it in context then looked it up in a monolingual dictionary.
(I also believe monolingual dictionaries sometimes explain the word a lot simplier than using a bilingual dictionary, English can be really complicated sometimes! Let the native speaker tell you what it means, not the nuances you get not-so-really-fitting English translations)
Anyway, I read for fun, interest and it’s material I like. I think, no matter what, that is the most important. I read my textbook when I want to go to sleep.
So, what do you guys do?