As part of my Spanish 2.0 learning program, I am immersing myself in Spanish, yet at a comprehensible level. To do this I have found these ‘graded’ readers that limit the Spanish vocabulary to fewer than 400 high-frequency words plus some cognates that are easy to guess since they are so similar to English.
I read through all 4 books and then read them again, picking up more the second time. I am trying to follow the Extensive Reading model, not attempting to understand every single word but getting a feel for the story and the language by immersing oneself.
What do you do when you encounter an unfamiliar word? I am following Stephen Krashen’s Word Attack Strategies as summarized on the bookmarks provided by Bryce Hedstrom:
- Skip it. Just keep on reading if the word does not seem too important to understand what is going on in the story. Stopping just breaks the flow of the story.
- Guess. Check to see if your guess fits with the meaning of the sentence and the paragraph and keep on reading.
- Guess again. Take another guess if your first one doesn’t seem quite right and keep on reading.
- Look it up. If the word keeps on appearing in the story, or if it seems like an important one to understand, go ahead and look it up or ask somebody what it means. But don’t get in the habit of doing this too often because it will slow you down and break your concentration
It is difficult to just ignore a word that is not understood but usually the story still makes sense and if it does keep popping up, rule 4 allows you to look it up. This is also why graded readers, designed for second-language learners are important. Books designed for kids, who already know the spoken language are not ideal for this method. Kids are expected to know a the definition of a word once they decode it.
I have now started on the four Level 2 books in this series and once I have gone through those twice I will probably return to these to see how much my Spanish has improved.
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