April 21, Monday evening -- Reading Emily Dickinson

Waiting for the bus after school

Reading poems by Emily Dickinson for her English class at school. The woman is very sad, she said about the poet.

When she reads for pleasure she likes Science Fiction books in Chinese, her native language. The titles and authors? She forgets them. She's been living in the United States for the past two years and still feels like reading in English is difficult and not something she can see herself doing for pleasure. When she comes to big words, she gets confused and would rather be reading in Chinese. She did read, in English, for school, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley and Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. She liked the stories, but the vocabulary made the stories hard to understand.

If she were to write her own book, it'd be Science Fiction. It might be a little sad in the middle, but it would be about a perfect life and would end perfectly.

What are good ways to improve reading skills?


Jen said...

well... reading. without a dictionary if possible. with decent knowledge of the language, preferably.

i can't remember exactly when i started to read in english, but it was pretty easy for me from the beginning, because i knew the language very well.

now, with spanish... i feel i'm missing half the book. and i can't stand going to the dictionary for every word, so i try to guess the words from their context - which works. what doesn't work is slang, and there's no dictionary for that... (not in my possesion, at least.)

(i've been studying english in one for or another for 20 years, i've only done spanish for 3)

Anonymous said...

I would definitely say to use a dictionary.

Yes, in the beginning, it's annoying to constantly go to the dictionary for words, but it's part of taking in a language and habitualizing it. It's part of the language training process.

It's possible to guess the context sometimes, but it doesn't always work, and you sometimes end up confused or with a completely different understanding of the text.

There are programs, games and things out there that she can use to train herself in English. Or she could study one, two or five words a day and use them as much as possible.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the clandestine samurai....

i read in french as much as i can, and i always have a dictionary on hand! it is far to difficult to read without one, and trying to guess the words could leave you missing half the story!!!

I guess that everyone has their own way of reading, though.

Nono said...

To the opposite of the previous comments, I never used a dictionary when I started reading in English, it slows down the pace too much for me and makes it even more difficult to finish the book...
However I also started by reading easy (for kids) and successful books such as the Harry Potters (that was before she wrote the 3 huge last ones) until I was confident enough to step it up one notch to more adults stories but still easy to read etc… I now can read pretty much what I want in English, I imagine there are books out there that I can’t read (Umberto Eco for those who knows) but if they end up on my wish list I will get them in my native language….

Ms. Bassette said...

2 years? Living in the USA? I think it sounds like she's doing wonderfully. I took three years of French and barely made it through our NYS regents, state tests.

Living with the language and continuing to try sound like pretty good ideas to me, but I also like the idea of starting with kids' books and moving up from there. As a mom of older kids now, I miss the reading of stories. There are sooooooo many good ones.