Diving in the Deep End
I took up learning Swedish on a regular basis about 2-3 months ago and I am seeing great results. Ok, I don't quite reach my daily DL goal every day but I do a lot of thinking on the language a lot in my daily life. For example, if I'm bored in school (bad habit I know) I will create random sentences in my head to get some constructive practice in.
However, recently I took up a pretty big endeavour. I bought a Swedish novel and have started reading it. Naturally, I don't understand a lot of it - I'm not even past the first page - but I feel it has helped me to pick up some more vocabulary through inferring rather than translation.
I wanted to know what other people thought of this idea. Is it worth continuing?
I'm doing exactly the same as you. I believe it's a great thing to do, because apparently words are easier to remember when you learn them that way.
Yeah, I've also had to look up some words I just can't infer but even those words are stuck in my mind where I've gone over the page so many times. Things like 'poliskommissarie' and 'nekande'.
I'm trying to buy physical versions of German translations of Classics such as The Inferno, MacBeth, The Brothers Karamazov etc... I've found the Project Gutenberg translations but would prefer a physical copy. So far no avail.
I had some trouble finding a physical copy of the book I bought. However, with some perseverance I found somewhere that shipped to the UK.
The book I bought has an English film adaptation so I know the context of the novel and roughly what happens. Naturally, I thought this would be a good book to start with.
I was able to find German translations off of the german amazon... although I don't know which one to pick. I have an english paperback that has all three books of the trilogy, but it looks like these are just the Inferno.
I think you shouldn't start with the Brothers Karamazov, it took me one and a half year to read it, well there were some other books in between. ;)
Not that many to be honest, for I am a German. But even having read a lot of Dostoyevsky before I found these 1600 pages hard work. Afterwards I turned to shortstories by Gogol, Tolstoy and Tshechov. :)
It is a great thing to do, as gabzerbinaorEng says. I've done it with French and Russian. It can be really hard at first. Or at least it has been for me. Just keep at it and you'll eventually do fine.
Here's a Duo discussion about reading German from about 9 months ago that you may find interesting.
I receive transparent Language's German word of the day in my email, so today it was Schmecker-to taste. So I went to youtube and typed it in. I got to a type of German game show and started to see what they were saying. I issue I was having was not the words that I knew, but remembering the ones I didn't know. I had to keep up (since they were speaking at normal speed), so I couldn't remember the words I needed to look up. I was able to get a general idea of what was going on but nothing specific.
I feel it may be similar when I first start reading.
Listening at "normal pace" is difficult at first, that's for sure.
The difference (for me, anyway) between audio and printed material is that you don't have to keep to someone else's pace when reading, just as you say.
I can read a text sentence by sentence (or phrase by phrase) and understand everything, or just about, because I can slow down and remember or work out what a word/phrase means. But w/ the very same text in an audiobook I'll have to repeat a passage that I might read fairly easily, because I fall behind when trying to figure out a word and so lose the meaning of, or maybe not even hear, the ends of sentences.
The good news is that comprehension of audio will fairly steadily improve. The bad news is that the improvement will be slow, or at least it has been for me.
The pace at which a reader reads is extremely important. I sometimes choose an audiobook for its reader! And there are a couple readers who have recorded material I really want to listen to--favorite novels, etc.--but who read just a little too fast for me, so I do not yet listen to them. . . . My progress could be charted by the readers of the audio books I've completed!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy German. I would love to know it--so much good and useful reading material--but it will have to wait until I finally manage to improve the languages I already half know.
How hard was it to get used to the Russian alphabet?
It is MUCH easier than many people seem to think. I was taught it years ago, and IIRC it took two 20-minute (or so) class sessions on two succeeding days, with lots of practice reading words aloud and writing them out by hand as homework.
The best way to go about it is to work on groups of letters. Start with those that are most like English, learn what they are, and practice on words that are made up of these letters. Then move on to groups of less familiar letters, practicing in between times. Then try to sound out every Russian word you see until the alphabet becomes second nature.
It seems to me that there are sites online that divide the letters up into learnable groups. Are you interested in learning the Cyrillic alphabet now?
I've done that too. I find it's best to use books meant for young adults that I've never read before (the language is a bit easier). I read the first Harry Potter book, for example. The language is playful, but not too tough.
Or alternately, use a book that you've already read and own in your native language. That way you already basically know what's going on, and you can look things up faster by just checking the other version instead of a dictionary (which takes way more time).
I also find it's good practice to try and just KEEP READING and not always look every word up. Only look up words that block you from understanding what the sentence is about; once you get the gist, move on. You can get bogged-down when looking up every word, and I find that volume is the best way for me to lock in vocabulary.