How to Learn to Read L2 Newspapers Even Though You Suck Right Now and It Seems Impossible

Simple Version

  1. Get a newspaper written in your target language
  2. Pick out a headline
  3. Look up and learn any words you don’t know in the headline
  4. Stop for now
  5. Repeat from (1) tomorrow

Detailed Version

  1. Get a newspaper — preferably a dead-tree one
  2. Pick out a headline (or an interesting-looking article, picture, caption, whatever)
  3. Google the headline
  4. Find the article online
  5. Look up and learn any words you don’t know in the headline
  6. Use the article for clues (meaning of abbreviations, etc. “Govt” = “Government”) if necessary.
  7. Create an MCD card containing the headline and the first three paragraphs of the adjoining article — the article that the headline belongs to
    1. The headline and first three paragraphs belong on the front of the card, the paragraphs will provide extra context, clues and cues — otherwise, all you’ve got is a disembodied headline, and nobody wants that.
  8. Hide (cloze) the words you didn’t know
    1. Obviously, after putting their dictionary definitions (monolingual or bilingual, your choice) and pronunciation aids (if necessary) onto the back of the card
  9. Don’t worry about understanding the whole article or knowing every word in the article. MCDs allow partial ignorance (partial knowledge). The sum of your partial knowledges will add up to complete knowledge.
  10. Stop for now  — we’re trying to keep things simple, finite and tractable — make it into a winnable game — by focussing only on headlines (and on only one a day)
  11. Repeat from (1) tomorrow — keep going until you stop running into headlines you can’t understand.
  12. Vocabulary lists? You don’t really need them — the words you don’t know are your vocabulary list

Yes, the process is daunting, but it is finite and thus tractable. So just do one headline every day. Never deal with all your ignorance at once; only handle one bite at a time, one link at a time in the chain of destiny.

  2 comments for “How to Learn to Read L2 Newspapers Even Though You Suck Right Now and It Seems Impossible

  1. Squishyface
    July 1, 2014 at 09:07

    うん、私はそれを試してみるつもりです。いつもありがとう、勝元先生。

  2. July 2, 2014 at 10:02

    Good article Khatz! You must’ve read my email.(the one where i said to post more how-to articles) Keep em’ coming man! Articles like this are what originally drew me to your site.

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