Reading: Boosting your Language Fluency Journey
This is part of a series we are doing on “Reading and language learning”
Je m’appelle Tolu. J’ai un chien et j’ai voyagé au Canada l’année dernière.
A number of readers may look at the about text and know the meaning straight away, some may not be able to read it and understand due to vocabulary, others may not be able to pronounce well, some may recognize the letters (English speakers for example) but be unable to read accurately or understand. There are many things that could happen on seeing the text, reading affects each of the results.
It is an important skill to learn as a member of society because no matter what you do, you can’t get away from text 100% (to have to say everything can be quite tasking😉). This is especially important in language learning.
For children, when learning a language, the journey begins from sound recognition: their parents or guardians speak and they recognize the sounds to a level, the exclamations and modes of expression through words belonging to the language being spoken to them and rely on it. As time goes on, they are introduced to text and their current level of understanding of sounds assists their journey to literacy in reading, and eventually, if they are well taught on reading, they begin to rely on it and a healthy relationship is built between their sound usage and reading ability.
For an adult language learner, it is not much different. The initial step usually advised when learning a new language is to have a simple introduction to common sounds (as was done in nursery school) and then the learner is introduced to more words which help practice and build stronger their knowledge of words and sounds.
Reading is learned each time you want to pick a new language and it affects a huge percentage of your language usage. There are a number of speakers who cannot read well and this affects their understanding. You should train and practice to read as much as you train to speak and listen.
A story from ampreports.org: Molly Woodworth was intelligent but as a child, she had difficulty reading. In school, she had no recollection of anyone teaching her to read and she devised a method that involves her memorizing words, guess what a word is based on context (which can be dangerous a number of times), or skip words she didn’t know. She graduated and became an accountant but is still not a very good reader.
Reading fluency is not automatic. Many learners pay high levels of attention to listening and speaking and that is good. It should not be at the expense of reading, however.
Why learn to read?
It increases your cognitive progress in vocabulary: You are better equipped to recognize words when you know how to read. Look at the text at the beginning of this article. Your ability to read helps you know what it means.
Reading affects pronunciation and is affected by it immensely because both happen simultaneously and since it is easier to read more than talk, you want to use it as many times as possible.
The amount of vocabulary you know also increases with the more books or texts you read depending on whichever type of reading method you apply.
It can improve memory, focus, and imagination: Reading exercises your brain in the target language. Remember the nursery books where they always repeated words: The plane goes up, Up, up, up! this was done to improve the retention of the word “up” in the reader’s mind. Reading requires focus for understanding and helps train your ability to give one-pointed attention to a task.
Imagination is improved when you read. We had a student who when practicing sample TEF questions couldn’t imagine scenarios for the expression practice. We introduced her to more stories and encouraged her to read more which improved her imagination and expression in more topics.
It improves writing skills: When you read French-language texts, you learn more about writing. Your knowledge of grammatical rules is key to writing better. The more you read texts, the more you train that skill with examples.
A language learner should at the very least read one book per week depending on one’s level. You will become increasingly trained in using the words, the sounds, and the understanding context in a given text, and this is a gateway to learning in every other area.
Did you know that reading is listening in a sense: to yourself. This is because even as you are reading this text, there is a small voice repeating the words you are seeing with sounds. You thus want to be careful to not be a poor reader as this can affect greatly your usage of the language.
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