|View of the back garden at Swannanoa Palace|
Continuing from last week's argument on the importance of reading, Dr. Lomb next covers how to read a foreign language text in chapter nine of Polyglot. She breaks reading down into two stages:
- Stage 1: reading with a "blitheness practically bordering on superﬁciality"
- Stage 2: reading with a "conscientious-ness close to distrust" (85)
Being able to determine words based on context by yourself is central to Dr. Lomb's method of learning languages:
The sense of achievement sweetens the joy of work and makes up for the boredom of eﬀort. It incorporates the most interesting thing in the world even into an indiﬀerent text. You wonder what it is? Our own selves. (86)The sense of achievement that you gain from determining the meaning of the word provides both motivation and a stronger link to retaining the meaning of the vocabulary word over time. As a reminder from the previous chapter, Dr. Lomb believed that words that you have determined should be written down in the text so during the review portion of the method, you have a reinforcement of how much progress you have achieved by reading the text.
In the second stage, after you have finished the story, the goal is to reread the text completely with an eye for trying to determine why the writer writes the sentences the way he or she does and if he or she makes any grammar mistakes.
Here Dr. Lomb shares the story of Aussi Brebis by Mikszáth Kálmán. A father hires a girl to teach his boys French. The boys have absolutely no interest in learning French and decide that the best way to get out of learning French is to prove that the girl can't speak French. In the process of proving that she doesn't know French, the boys, by scouring dictionaries to try to trick her, teach themselves French.
Dr. Lomb ends by recommending abridged texts for language learners who are concerned about trying foreign language texts.
Giving up my dictionary and learning from context is one of my current struggles. In some ways, I feel like I am being lazy by not looking up words. However, if I can get better at determining words by context, I believe that my overall comprehension will improve.
For English learners, the Stepping Stone books such as Oliver Twist , are adaptations of classic novels designed for young readers. Of course, you are welcome to go through my blog archives and find my grammar mistakes. ;)
The Little Prince was one of the first German texts that I read on my own after college. Here is a link to a page with several free online foreign language editions of The Little Prince. The story is beautiful and bittersweet and I really loved to read it.
I am currently working through these classic Japanese stories which have hiragana and a few kanji.