Two modes of foreign language reading: content-focused and language-learning-focused

10 Dec

Interesting observations about learning to read in in a foreign language

Self Taught Japanese

When reading in a foreign language we are not yet fluent in, our brain is struggling to do a great deal of things simultaneously. We’re desperately trying to grasp the overall meaning of the passage at hand, while looking up individual word meanings and pronunciations. We are also trying to think in terms of grammar and how words fit together to create higher-level concepts. On top of this, we are probably trying to remember some new phrases and definitions so we can leverage them in our own writings in the future.

After much Japanese reading practice I’ve discovered that it’s helpful to separate some of these items into two different ‘modes’, what I call content-focused and language-learning-focused (which I’ll abbreviate as learning-focused). The mode is something we should tentatively decide as we begin to read the passage, but if needed we can switch partway through.

Content-focused, as you can imagine is where we…

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