Mar 292014
Level 1 Spanish Readers

Level 1 Spanish Readers

As part of my Spanish 2.0 learning program, I am immersing myself in Spanish, yet at a comprehensible level. To do this I have found these ‘graded’ readers that limit the Spanish vocabulary to fewer than 400 high-frequency words plus some cognates that are easy to guess since they are so similar to English.

I read through all 4 books and then read them again, picking up more the second time. I am trying to follow the Extensive Reading model, not attempting to understand every single word but getting a feel for the story and the language by immersing oneself.

What do you do when you encounter an unfamiliar word? I am following Stephen Krashen’s Word Attack Strategies as summarized on the bookmarks provided by Bryce Hedstrom:

  1. Skip it. Just keep on reading if the word does not seem too important to understand what is going on in the story. Stopping just breaks the flow of the story.
  2. Guess. Check to see if your guess fits with the meaning of the sentence and the paragraph and keep on reading.
  3. Guess again. Take another guess if your first one doesn’t seem quite right and keep on reading.
  4. Look it up. If the word keeps on appearing in the story, or if it seems like an important one to understand, go ahead and look it up or ask somebody what it means. But don’t get in the habit of doing this too often because it will slow you down and break your concentration

It is difficult to just ignore a word that is not understood but usually the story still makes sense and if it does keep popping up, rule 4 allows you to look it up. This is also why graded readers, designed for second-language learners are important. Books designed for kids, who already know the spoken language are not ideal for this method. Kids are expected to know a the definition of a word once they decode it.

I have now started on the four Level 2 books in this series and once I have gone through those twice I will probably return to these to see how much my Spanish has improved.

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Feb 282014

The Power of Reading.
Stephen D. Krashen.

When second language acquirers read for pleasure, they develop the competence to move from the beginning “ordinary conversational” level where they can use the second language for more demanding purposes, such as the study of literature, business, and so on. As some of the studies discussed earlier in this volume show, when second language acquirers read for pleasure, they can continue to improve in their second language without classes, without teachers, without study, and even without people to converse with.

Page: 146-147

As I work (again) on learning Spanish, I am encouraged to see that ‘reading’ can be a primary learning tool. It is a challenge to find enough interesting material to read but the better my vocabulary gets the larger the pool of books become.

The only issue I see with a reading immersion program will be with pronunciation. Much like homeschooled kids, I can see that a lot can be learned when the student is self-directed and has a love for reading. My readers always had a vocabulary beyond their years but the obvious way we pronounce and accent words is something that can only be learned by hearing. Spanish may not be as prone to error as English since Spanish has rules that English learners would die for.

By augmenting my reading with listening, much of this problem will hopefully be mitigated. In my audio library on my phone, I have a half dozen ‘learning Spanish’ podcasts and 6 easy-Spanish books. I hope that listening to these spoken by native speakers will assist me in learning correct pronunciation.

Book Posts

  • The Power of Reading by Stephen Krashen
  • Reading is the only way
  • Reading in 2nd Language as a Primary Learning Tool

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    Aug 012013
    Pimsleur Spanish on Facebook

    Pimsleur Spanish on Facebook

    I have tried to learn Spanish. Many times. As a matter of fact I think I have 6 years of first semester Spanish under my belt. I get started and then other priorities overwhelm my intentions.

    When looking at other ‘gringos’ who are fluent in Spanish, I noticed one common factor. They all have significant others who are native speakers. I asked my wife about the possibility of acquiring a Spanish-speaking girlfriend but she says I don’t need to learn Spanish that bad.

    Now it appears that Pimsleur agrees with me. This ad on Facebook seems to say the only way to learn Spanish is with the help of a good-looking girlfriend.

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