A week ago, I came across a webpage for
Japanese students learning English. I
do not remember the teacher's name, but
his hints were absolutely incredible,
and have helped me in leaps and bounds
in learning Russian.
Here is what you do. Two steps.
1) Learn the characters of the language,
if it is a character based language.
Learn how to pronounce the characters,
2) Start reading.
The way you read is: Pronounce
the words as best you can, in your
mind, *not* under your breath,
*not* out loud, *not* moving your
lips. [this is hard at first].
You strive to increase the speed
that you are reading until you reach
about 500 wpm, which should take 3-6
months according to that website
(and I believe that it is possible).
Read twice a day, 10 minutes at a time.
Or, if you have the time, do it
30 minutes at a time, without stopping.
You are not reading to comprehend
or to understand.
You are reading to increase the speed
of your reading.
[ie - it is mechanical]
If you like, you can look up words
that appear frequently in the text
in a very basic dictionary. If the
word isn't in the dictionary, just
ignore it for now and move on.
[ie - in English, words like "a",
"the", "and", "this", "that", "is",
"was", "were", etc]
Reading for understanding can be
done at other times, as can grammar
work, sentence writing, etc., but
this exercise is single-purpose.
If you have native language copy of
the text as well:
1) first read in target language
2) then read in native language
and, if you like, re-read in
target language again.
And I can tell you - it works!
I found a copy of the Hobbit online
in Russian. At first, I was only
able to read 2 pages in 1/2 hr.
Next day, 3 pgs in 1/2 hr. Day
after that, 4 pgs in 1/2 hr.
Now, after a week, i can read
10 pages in 1/2 hr (a whole chapter).
Not only has reading speed increased,
but words that start to 'bug' me,
that keep cropping up and I don't know
them, I mark while I'm reading, and
look them up afterwards, writing the
new word on an index card that I take
with me the next day to work for review.
It's not a magic bullet, but it's certainly
enjoyable, especially if the text is on a
subject that is fastinating.
Today, I was quite exciting to receive
a 4 page short story in email in Russian,
and I printed it out and read it at lunchtime.
I was actually able to understand most of
what was going on in the story, including
the twist ending! Without having any
English version to compare with as I have
with The Hobbit.
It's also proven to be good for me, in that
it gives me something that is easy to do,
with a simple goal, which is wonderful on
days where I can't seem to get my mind
around a sticky grammar point, or new
Just passing it along - hope it helps!