A couple of days ago I finished my first novel in Hungarian!
I had a lot of fun and I'm really motivated to use more fiction in my language studies. I think I avoided novels for a while because I wasn't really sure of an effective way to use them, because I had no idea how to go about looking up words. Over the years I've abandoned lots of novels in various languages either out of boredom (not looking up enough words to make the novel comprehensible and thus enjoyable) or laziness/frustration (looking up too many words and taking the fun out of it).
As I mentioned here
, I started by reading the first chapter, and then very slowly looked up all
the new words I'd highlighted, adding sentence-based translation/audio flaschards. This was back in August last year: I obviously abandoned this approach because this was way too much effort.
I picked up the book again a week or two ago, and what I started doing was underlining all the new words, and putting boxes around words I felt were crucial to understanding the story or repeated themselves. I made sure to be strict and not draw boxes around too many words so it wouldn't be so hard to look them all up. Then the following day
I would look up new words and add monolingual dictionary definitions with example sentences (adding English translations of any words I didn't understand in the definition or example sentences) to Anki, and keep reading the next chapter in the evening.
Eventually, the story became so gripping that I just wanted to keep reading and not bother looking up any words. So I kept using the same notation system for new words, but kept powering through and read the whole thing, reading several chapters a day rather than just one.
Now I'm going back through (just looking at the vocabulary I highlighted, not re-reading the entire story), looking up words and making monolingual flashcards. I'm going to keep doing this for a while and plan to go through the entire book, but if I don't feel like it anymore I'll just stop and move onto other materials so that I avoid procrastinating. Once I get bored of looking up words from this book I might move onto the other Hungarian novel I have, a krimi
-- I just skimmed through some of the first pages and it looks way more manageable than it used to, I think after reading through my first novel it'll be much easier to read Hungarian for pleasure now. I've also been listening to a Hungarian politics channel on YouTube (Partizán
); I've noticed even my listening comprehension has improved, which is kind of weird.
I still think looking up a massive amount of things in the first chapter could be a good way to start understanding the book, especially with languages I don't understand so well yet, but I now realise the goal should be to look up progressively fewer and fewer words each chapter and to eventually immerse into the story.