TAC 2019-2020 - aaakknu

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Linguaphile
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Re: TAC 2019-2020 - aaakknu

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-03-20, 18:05

aaakknu wrote:Looking up every unknown word in the dictionary is time-consuming and often unnecessary, as the meaning is clear from context. I haven't finished reading any Estonian book precisely because I stubbornly wanted to memorize every single new work from a chapter before moving on and it was very discouraging.
I feel like my knowledge of Estonian and Spanish is already good enough for this strategy to work with native materials.
(And I just feel lazy to do anything more than this)

I do that now too (and with those same languages). Actually, with some books I just read without looking up unknown words, and with others I do write down and look up the words. But I do it much differently from what I did when I was less fluent; now that I can understand the story from context without looking anything up, what I do is write down unknown words in a notebook while I'm reading and then look them up later. If I can completely figure a new word out from context, one of two things happens: if I'm confident that I'll understand that new word in other contexts easily (for example: a word in Estonian that's obvious from its word parts, or a word in Spanish that is a close cognate with English) then I don't write it down at all. I know that I'll easily understand it the next time I encounter it, even if I might not yet remember it quite well enough to produce it myself later until I've seen it a few more times.
So the other thing that would happen if I can figure out a word from context but really have to rely on the surrounding sentence(s) to figure it out: If it's a new word that I probably wouldn't recognize later if the surrounding context wasn't there to help me, then I write it down and write down the definition that I've figured out, still without looking it up. But I mark it differently so that if/when I go through my word list later I know that it wasn't a dictionary that gave me the definition. (In my case, what I do is write the meaning in parenthesis. That means "I'm pretty sure that's what this means based on the context, but maybe I'm wrong, or maybe it's not its primary meaning and just happens to be the meaning it has in this context".
Anyway, it disrupts my reading much less than stopping to look things up (which as you mentioned is no longer necessary) but still gives me a list of new words to learn, which I like. And if I'm so engrossed in a book that I forget to write down new words for a few pages, I don't worry about it; it means I'm understanding quite well even if I don't know every individual word, and that's good enough.
I just thought I'd post this in case it's useful to you. You may want to stop looking up words completely, but if you try it and find that it's also less satisfying because you feel like you aren't sure how much you are learning (which is how I felt when I first stopped looking everything up, and why I switched to the system I've described) it might be a solution for you, too.


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