Schools out!?! My kids are home and my wife and I are faced with the same yearly dilemma that many parents like us are faced with. How do I keep my kids busy and how do I keep them from slipping to far back during the 3 month hiatus from their studies. This year my wife decided we would investment into our kids. We not only made doing fun things (like TV, Computers, or riding bicycles) contingent upon them completing at least 50 pages of reading that day, we also promised to pay them 50 cents if they read 50 pages that day. So far its been working well.
Why did we emphasize reading and not anything else? As my child’s teacher once told me, “[Your children] learn to read so that way they can read to learn.” This is totally true. I’m sure there has been studies to back it up, but my experience has shown me that those who can read well, also do well in other subjects. So that makes me a bad example.
How are you a bad example?
I rarely read in Spanish. It is never done regularly and I never do it for very long. I do read in Thai every weekend, but not with any plan of attack to make the most of what I read. It’s very passive. This is a big waste of potential! By not reading regularly and with a purpose, I am holding myself back. This has now been corrected in my system, both here on the blog and in my personal application of it. Every day I will read at least 15 minutes of Spanish and on the weekends (which I save for learning Thai) I will do the same in Thai.
How does one read with a “purpose?”
Like I have mentioned in my system, You should practice in two different ways using both structured and unstructured activities. For structured activities read slowly and stop every time you don’t know or understand something. Look it up. Make sure you understand it. If you spend all your time on two words then so be it.
Unstructured you do the opposite. You read normally(not fast). You can stop long enough to write a word/phrase down for future inquiry, but then you go on. The point is to practice reading and getting your brain wired for the language. Once again this isn’t speed reading. Don’t read faster than you can understand, but don’t stop to ponder on a unique or interesting grammar structure or word. Do these two methods every other day.
One of the best tools for reading slowly is found at Lingq.com. This program lets you click and instantly look up words and phrases based on a community of translations. Other than that just use your favorite dictionary/app to look up the words. If the language you are learning is supported by WordReference.com then I would highly recommend that resource as well. Then you too can realize the Reading is FUNdamental!
Update: I have adjusted what I do in my reading slightly. Read more about it here!
Update 2: I have found a great tool called learning with Text (LWT) read about it here!