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Extensive Reading Vocabulary Range Video

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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 Message 18 of 38
08 September 2011 at 4:46pm | IP Logged 
Alum is a aluminuim-potassium salt that used to be important as a stabilizing agent in the process of dying cloth. Nowadays most people only seem to know the word when they are interested in chemistry or history, or, in my case, natural dyes.
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 Message 19 of 38
08 September 2011 at 5:27pm | IP Logged 
My result is "at least 16,800 word families".
Not too bad...
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 Message 20 of 38
08 September 2011 at 5:53pm | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:
The test is definitely biased towards UK English.

Very true (they use the British National Corpus), although sometimes being a contemporary Brit can also prove a disadvantage. When "ruck" came up, for example, the first thing that popped into my head was a fight or quarrel (common slang deriving from a Rugby "ruck", and helped along by the sense of being a "ruckus"). ;)

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 Message 21 of 38
08 September 2011 at 11:35pm | IP Logged 
I rushed through it and got 11,300 word families. Maybe the words/surrounding words/definitions vary according to the native language (I couldn't find Swedish in the list). I saw some words for the first time.
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 Message 22 of 38
09 September 2011 at 3:13am | IP Logged 
I have now listened to professor Arguelles' video, and as usual it is thorough and informative. However I heard somewhere along the way that extensive reading was the only way to get a really comprehensive vocabulary, and somewhere else he said that many words only will be met in written texts so you have to read books to learn them. Both remarks call for a comment.

For me reading is also very important for learning new vocabulary, but it is not the only component in this. I use wordlists based on bilingual dictionaries alongside genuine texts, and my feeling is that I learn more words through these lists, - meeting the same words in texts may keep them alive in my memory, but they were not in the first place acquired through reading.

As long as I'm a beginner in a certain language most of my wordlists are based on the texts I study intensively, and when I'm advanced I mostly learn from specialist texts (including internet sources) so the dictionary based wordlists mainly cover the steps in between. It is worth noting that they only can be used because I already know a lot of words in the base languages of my dictionaries.

So learning words directly from extensive reading is of course possible, but it is certainly not the only way to acquire a decent vocabulary.

The other question is: do written texts cover ALL the vocabulary you need? I would say no, because I do watch television and sometimes I even have the chance to speak to native speakers, and there will also be some words to be gleaned from such sources - even words which I may never meet in writing. In my own case my vocabulary is probably skewed toward words mostly used in writing rather than words mainly used in informal speech, and depending on the purpose of your language learning this could be seen as either something positive or negative. In particular you may find that the reading of great, but old books may give you a large vocabulary, but not the words you need to communicate with a modern youngster.

Edited by Iversen on 09 September 2011 at 3:25am

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 Message 23 of 38
09 September 2011 at 2:24pm | IP Logged 
newyorkeric wrote:
Others had meanings that I didn't see listed:

If you'd played rugby, you'd know what a ruck is (not fun to be in one either!).
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 Message 24 of 38
09 September 2011 at 2:27pm | IP Logged 
I think one of the main points was that an active reading vocabulary is higher then an
active speech vocabulary. Therefore by reading, you are forced to extend your vocabulary
quicker then speech.

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