I got myself a copy of Harry Potter and the philosophers stones in Dutch, and I am planning to work my way through it.
I know I'm not even close to the level I need to be at to understand ALL of it, but so far I can pick out various bits and pieces. For example, I was able to read (most) of some character descriptions and basically got the gist of the first few pages. Sure there was plenty I didn't fully understand and lots I'd never seen before, but it's giving me exposure and also feels really good when I can pick things out.
I figure I have three options:
- Just read and see how much I understand
- Read, make notes about what I don't get and come back to it
- Read and translate unknown stuff along the way
Anybody have any idea which is the best approach?
The one thing that usually is advised against, is looking up too many words. What too many is depends on you, I would say don't look up more than 1 word per page on average, preferably less. Don't worry if you don't understand everything 100%, but look up words you come across more often and words/sentences you think are very important to understand the story or the behaviour and character of key characters.
Especially if you've read the story before, there is no need overusing the dictionary, it's usually better to see/learn words used in context than from a dictionary.\
And maybe most importantly: do whatever you enjoy most, if you enjoy figuring out the meaning of words from context, try to look up as little as possible. If you really don't get the gist of whole paragraphs or if you are annoyed by not understanding things: look up more/make more notes.
And if you have specific questions which native speakers like me could answer, feel free to ask them here.
I'd say those three options are kind of complementary.
What I do is I try to understand the gist of the sentences, underlining unfamiliar/doubtful words along the way. If a certain word really blocks my understanding of a sentence, I immediately check it on a dictionary and write it down on the side. This kind of creates a contextual reference for the word which makes it easier to remember in the future. Of course, with time you'll learn what's the best method for you.