Part of the plan for 2014 on this blog will be to look more closely at books in their native Korean, Chinese and Japanese as a resource for intermediate to advanced foreign language students as well as teachers of these languages. It is common for students at this level to have a dearth of direction and materials, making it difficult to continue to make progress in their language study. Therefore, this blog will focus on literature with a small “L” rather than only noted classics. While my discussions of the six or so foreign language books in the coming year will not be technical in nature but will continue to focus on culture and plot, here are a few studies from the University of Hawaii for readers more interested in using this blog as a study resource and encouragement to try their hand at reading in the original languages:
“L2 extensive reading and flow: Clarifying the relationship,” by Cheryl Kirchhoff of Nagano Prefectural College from Reading in a Foreign Language:
and “Effects of extensive reading on reading attitudes in a foreign language,” by Junko Yamashita of Nagoya University from Reading in a Foreign Language:
While most of the research on second language acquisition has been done on English as a Second Language learners, the same insights are applicable when the reader’s native language is English reading a different foreign language, though the two fields are not aligned. As a former foreign language major with some formal training in TESOL specifically focusing on second language acquisition, I have also done some personal experimentation with some of these techniques.
This blog reflects my personal preferences in extensive reading in my own language study, and while I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan of graded readers, some ESL students like them. I found myself getting bored with graded readers after five pages and never picking them up again. Also, in spite of the prejudices against language students using dictionaries, I think if you want to read something that you need a dictionary to understand, go for it. While dictionaries are often limited and can be wrong, they exist for a reason, so I don’t care for the idea students should avoid them in order to study. I’ve found it’s too easy to guess the wrong meaning of words you don’t look up, and finding texts that are specially written to only use words you probably know not only can be difficult for native English speakers, it can also give a student a false idea of their own foreign language reading abilities.