I wanted your opinion and help on the follwoing:

My mother tongue is Arabic. I'm trying to read novels but I can't understand them. I found the way novels are written is complicated and different from daily English. They contain lots of new words to me. Each and every time I need to look them up. I find that boring. So would you please suggest some tips for me to start exploring literature especially novels?


NB. I'm infatuated with linguistics but have no interest in literature.My friends told me "How come you have no idea on literature though your speciality is English. My Q:

Is it a "must" or let me say "necessary" for those whose speciality is English to have knowledge of English literature ?

Is it necessary to read some art works to improve the way you write, or one can develop his style through reading scientific works and such a like?

Please, HHHHHHHHEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!
Original Post
I'm sure that Rachel will have lots of interesting things to say on this subject, Ismael, but here are my thoughts.

There are many reasons for learning a language. Those reasons should dictate what you use to learn the language. If your goal is to become a professor of English at a university in your country, then English literature is something that I think needs to be included in your L2 (2nd language) experience. Literature helps to understand a great deal about the culture(s) in which the L2 is spoken, and we must always remember that language and culture are inseparable.

But if your language learning goal is not what I've mentioned above, then literature may not be a necessary part of the language learning experience -- at least not a great deal of it. Some literature will still be helpful, but it need not be the classics. Popular fiction and non-fiction should prove very useful.

On a practical note, I have always found that good quality magazines in the target language are a wonderful source for learning current language (spoken as well as written) and cultural trends. They're especially good for learning more vocabulary because they tend to use the same expressions over and over, which helps you to understand their meaning without resorting to the dictionary every five minutes.

That leads me to one of the reading techniques I teach my students to make the reading experience more enjoyable. Try to figure out the meaning of a word or phrase in the context of the reading without running to the dictionary. This isn't always possible, and it's not easy to do at times, but if you start developing the knack of guessing at the meaning, you'll begin to get it right more often than not and find reading more enjoyable. I agree with you completely that running to the dictionary all the time is a crashing bore and will turn you off to reading in English.

Stick with magazines and newspapers, too, which will be much more "comfortable" reading for you than high-level novels and such. You mentioned scientific works; I would stay away from them unless you happen to be a scientist and want exposure to that style of written English.

I hope I've given you some useful suggestions, my friend. I've been in your shoes more than once. Reading the way I've suggested helped me a great deal to learn French, Italian, and Spanish. I'm confident that if you choose popular literature produced for "the masses," you'll enjoy reading much more and learn very useful vocabulary at the same time.

Richard
Richard's suggestions and Jerry's suggestions are worthwhile.

There are several other ways to approach "literature." First, if you are in a class with required readings, then you have no choice; you have to read what your professor assigns.

If you are on your own, though, in addition to the ideas presented by Richard and Jerry, you might try some graded readers. These are series of books, many of them classics, that are rewritten for the non-native speaker of English, like you, Ismael, and many, many others. These graded readers have the same stories as the originals, but are much easier to read. They are, in fact, a gentle introduction to literature in a new language. You can find many listed, and the names of publishers who have this type of book, at this site: http://www.extensivereading.net/er/ken1.html

I consulted with Maria Spelleri about this topic; she is the one who suggested this website-- http://www.extensivereading.net/ -- of which the site I mentioned above is a part.

Maria states: He or she should take a look at this website on Extensive Reading. Even though he is not setting up a program, there are likely good resources on the page as to what kind of materials students should be encouraged to read. The idea of extensive reading is for people to read what they enjoy, without having to run to a dictionary, which is kind of what this questioner wants to do. Consequently, there is always a big discussion about "What" to read that is the correct level. I think he/she may find interesting info on this site.
_______

I'd like to add that if you are interested in reading about science, here's a great website: http://science.howstuffworks.com/

This is the website where Christopher Dodd, currently a candidate for president of the United States, gets his information about science. ( I've read that he stated that.)

Rachel
quote:
Try to figure out the meaning of a word or phrase in the context of the reading without running to the dictionary. This isn't always possible, and it's not easy to do at times, but if you start developing the knack of guessing at the meaning, you'll begin to get it right more often than not and find reading more enjoyable.


Richard, above that is a very good piece of advice.

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×