Reading might not seem like the most important task you should be focussing on when learning your target language. After all, reading is a very passive way of learning the language and, let’s face it, most of us learn the languages we learn in order to communicate with people. Sure, there is a whole list of scholars who are mostly interested in the passive comprehension of reading but grabbing a book is actually an underrated learning technique even for those with more traditional goals.
Get access to huge amounts of vocabulary
Depending on the language and the page, there are between 200 and 350 words on a single page. That means that when you read a book, you’ll be introduced to tens of thousands of words. And sure, they’re not unique words but, unless you’re reading something very obscure, they’ll be the most common words in your target language that you’ll get to repeat page after page.
There is an estimation that language learners who are also avid readers pick up, on average, 2000 words more per year than those without a reading habit. That is a significant amount of vocabulary at your disposal. Of course, over the years, the number of new words will die down but for a beginner language learners, reading is one of the best ways to get ahead with memorising vocabulary.
Reading will help you learn you-specific vocabulary
In general, there are two types of thought on reading: extensive and intensive. The first approach advocates reading any- and everything you can get your hands on. According to the promoters of intensive reading, a learner should instead very thoroughly work with a shorter text to get the most out of the experience.
However, it might just be that the best way is to take the middle road. In order to get the most out of your reading to build you-specific vocabulary, you should really focus on books, magazines, leaflets, etc on topics that interest you. If you enjoy cooking, grab a recipe book with the native recipes of the country where your target language is spoken, or learn about the popular culture there from native language magazines. With online editions widely available, there is very little holding you back. And when you focus on reading up on things that interest you, you’ll also be learning the relevant vocabulary of topics that interest you, enabling you to put that to good use in future conversations.
Embrace the culture
Another great thing that reading does for you is introduce you to the culture behind the language. Grab any historical novel to learn about the background of your native language while surreptitiously picking up vocabulary. Works of modern fiction can highlight touchy social issues and general cultural mood. You can learn about taboos and norms in a way that few other mediums can teach you.
Conclusion – Reading helps you learn you-specific vocabulary and introduces the culture
Reading is a great tool in any language learner’s toolbox. It can introduce you to a wider range of new vocabulary that you’d normally come across and if you focus on reading titles relevant to you, it will help you learn you-specific vocabulary. Additionally, reading the classics published in your target language will provide great insight into the culture behind the language as well.