The title says “massive reading in order to a learn a foreign language,” but massive reading can also be used to improve your native language.

In the age of the internet, reading is a ubiquitous activity. I often hear people commenting on how other people never read, but if those other people are online a lot, then they are probably reading a whole lot more than those who occasionally open a book after watching some TV. The internet is covered in text so it’s hard to get through some web browsing without doing some heavy reading time.

So why is extensive reading good for learning languages?

・You get in a ton of example sentences.

Seeing words in several different contexts, allows your brain to better associate that word with an abstract concept. The more varied the examples are and the more often they occur, the more efficient your brain will become at processing it.

・Your vocabulary becomes enormous.

The title of this blog is “amassing words,” so you can be sure this is a top priority for me when learning languages. You can be as fluent as you want asking someone for directions, but if you can’t understand their often complicated reply… you’re screwed. You need a much stronger passive vocabulary than active vocabulary. The only way to strengthen your passive vocabulary is to encounter those new words. You might try lists of words, but this is extremely boring from my experience.

I actively use extensive reading to improve my Japanese language ability. In Japanese it’s called tadoku (多読)and it helps plant the seeds of knowing a word fluently. It’s much easier to learn words when they are in the written form. You can take your time, highlight the word, and come back to it later. After you have the first impression of the new word in your brain, you are now primed on the journey to make that word fluent. Now every time you’re watching a television show in your foreign language, you’ll have a much better chance of recognizing that word.  Sooner or later, that word will become second nature to you just like “konnichiwa,” but you needed to plant that seed first. That seed is extensive reading.