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munterberg

Fluency in Reading: How long for a decent reading speed?

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Michael H

Chinese Text Analyser is indeed a wonderful tool, and a great help in studying. However I think it may be better to use it AFTER reading a text. Because part of the skill of reading is being able to deal with texts where you haven't previously learned all the words in them. While reading you might look up some words and guess the meaning of or skip over others. Afterwards you can then use Chinese Text Analyser to generate a list of key words from the text to review, prioritized by frequency.

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imron
However I think it may be better to use it AFTER reading a text.

Why not both? :mrgreen:

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JustinJJ
How long did it take you guys to get more rapid in reading Chinese character texts? I've got a fair amount of characters down and can read comics for the average 8-year old, but it still takes such a long time to go over the characters.

 

 

Don't think about it, just read. Then read some more.

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889

And as for being able to scan Chinese like you can scan English -- thumb through a book and get the gist in a jif -- that's not a very realistic goal, I think.

 

A more reasonable goal is to be able to read Chinese text aloud at normal speed, without halts or hesitations, voiced in a manner that demonstrates you clearly understand what you're saying.

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Basil

I disagree with 889,

 

It is only by having that completely unrealistic goal that I've even been able to hit that reasonable goal.

 

I hoping to hit that unrealistic goal at some point... not soon, but I can see flickerings of light at the end of the tunnel... so... so... so...

 

I'll set myself an arbitrary target of being able to scan moderate difficulty texts before Russia next invades Finland.

 

Hopefully that gives me at least 3 years...

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889

I would have been a lot more impressed if you'd made that not Finland but Ukraine.

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Basil

Ukraine is already semi-annexed. There's no way I'd hit that deadline.

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JustinJJ
By the time I was a teenager I think I had already read a few hundred serious novels plus everything else. That's when I was fluent in my mother tongue. I guess it takes a few hundred of Chinese novels to be fluent in reading Chinese as well. 

 

How is that possible? Assuming you started reading at 5 then by your mid teens lets say 12 years later, you had completed a serious novel on average every week or two. Seems pretty unrealistic unless you had not much else to do with your youth than read serious novels from the age you first started school or you are a genius...

 

I have read 12 Chinese novels, am now reading a translation o'The millionaire next door'. Out ocuriosity I just measured my reading speed and read at 200cpm. I'm just reading things that interest me, so not deliberatey looking to boost speed, but would be good to boost it at some point. I think that to a certain extent it gets boosted every time I see a word again.

 

Short version - it took me about 4-5 full-length novels (at high e.g. > 98% comprehension) before feeling like reading wasn't a chore and maybe about 8-9 books before feeling comfortable.   This was reading approx 1 book a month 

I think reading one Chinese novel a month is an impressive target (since most people don't read that much in English)!

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Basil

 

 

By the time I was a teenager I think I had already read a few hundred serious novels plus everything else. That's when I was fluent in my mother tongue. I guess it takes a few hundred of Chinese novels to be fluent in reading Chinese as well. 

 

 

How is that possible? Assuming you started reading at 5 then by your mid teens lets say 12 years later, you had completed a serious novel on average every week or two. Seems pretty unrealistic unless you had not much else to do with your youth than read serious novels from the age you first started school or you are a genius...

 

Completely achievable. But your targets are out. You should be reading at a speed of one a day or close to.

 

Off the top of my head, books like animal farm and sherlock holmes can all be read in a single session by a 9/10 year old. I distinctly remember reading Lord of the Rings within a week when I was 10 or 11. 

 

All it takes is a love of reading, a thick duvet and a decent torch. 

 

I also remember complaining to my primary school teachers that I'd read all the books in the library and them not believing me. I was probably exaggerating a little. I'm sure there was some dross that even I couldn't be bothered to touch.

 

But 200 serious books by 15/16? easily doable. 

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imron
I think reading one Chinese novel a month is an impressive target

It was about half an hour to an hour of reading a day.

 

It's actually very achievable if you decide to commit to doing it every day.  Another important thing to do is have a small stockpile of unread books ready to go so that when you finish one you don't lose any momentum deciding what book to read next.

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Basil

Imron's advice about a daily read is spot on, and best practice.

 

If like me, you find it hard to stick to a regular routine, try and get through the first quarter/third of any book asap. That means if you drop it, you'll have both investment and emotional investment and incentive to come back to finish up.

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JustinJJ

Completely achievable. But your targets are out. You should be reading at a speed of one a day or close to.

 

Off the top of my head, books like animal farm and sherlock holmes can all be read in a single session by a 9/10 year old. I distinctly remember reading Lord of the Rings within a week when I was 10 or 11. 

 

I think you are a genius.

 

Though when I was thinking about 'serious novels' I was probably thinking of longer books e.g. Lord othe Rings length, rather than Animal arm length. So when it comes to novels I'd probably be counting 家 as a novel but 色戒 as a story...

 

I think an easy way to have a reading habit is to read on the train/bus because there's literally nothing else to do and lots opeople waste 20+mins doing nothing on a trip in to work.

 

It was about half an hour to an hour of reading a day.

 

It's actually very achievable if you decide to commit to doing it every day.

 

I'm sitting at around a book a month pace, but I think it takes me a bit longer than an hour a day to do this (maybe 1.5hrs). I guess your reading speed must be pretty quick!

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Basil

 

 

I think you are a genius.

 

I don't think so, I think I was just corrupted by TV, music and computer games a bit later than everyone else.

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imron
I guess your reading speed must be pretty quick!

Maybe, or it might be that I was reading easier/smaller novels. Also, time spent learning vocab is outside of the time I mentioned.

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rezaf

I could finish books like animal farm or 1984 in a day or two (mostly during the weekends). Also for 6 years I was a volunteer at my school's library so I used to spend around 2 or 3 hours there reading because most students were not interested in borrowing books.

Edit: By novel I mostly meant books between 100 to 500 pages. Longer books like Jean-Christophe could take me months to finish.

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munterberg

 

I have read 12 Chinese novels, am now reading a translation o'The millionaire next door'. Out ocuriosity I just measured my reading speed and read at 200cpm.

 

You're good. Just tested myself and clocked in at 138 characters per minute, and that's with a fairly familiar text.

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imron

Continued practice with the intention to read faster will make you faster too.

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Jamasian

For a different approach my friend and I did a lot of Karaoke for about three years (Newbie years in college). It's definitely helpful to build quick recognition.

Then we moved onto Children's books and jokes. I feel that solidified some meaning.

Now I'm trying to dedicate 3hrs a day to novels. (Because I spend two hours a day on the subway and I threw in an hour because I like to read in coffee shops.)

 

I don't think you'll be too far behind a native if you can keep up these habits. I had a 3 yr break so it sucks trying to rebuild reading speed especially with how language changes and the existence of a billion characters, etc.

 

加。油。

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Rufus

You may want to try the skills applied to speed-reading (just follow me here for a sec). This assumes you already can recognize the characters/words and now you are trying to build reading speed.

 

The key to speed-reading is to train yourself to turn off your internal monologue when you read. When you vocalize in your head what you are reading, it inherently slows down your pace of reading. By eliminating sub-vocalization, you remove a huge speed limit to your reading. 

 

When we skim things in English, the truth is that we vocalize very little. We may vocalize a word or two here and there, but we mainly skim over it and come away with the idea of the paragraph. 

 

It's even harder for second-language learners to turn this off in Chinese because (I believe) we not only sub-vocalize the pronunciation but also the tones. By doing so, it helps us to train our brain to automatically speak out the right tones. The down side is that this does a lot to slow down our reading speed. 

 

Solution? When you read, try to eliminate the pronunciation and tones in your mind and focus on simply "comprehending" the text. I honestly believe that your Chinese reading level is above mine, but I can tell you that I have done this. I'm not great at doing it, but I have read an entire page of Chinese before very quickly with adequate comprehension. I don't do it very often (and honestly I don't read articles as much as I should) and it's certainly not a very viable option if you are below 98% comprehension of the words used, but this can be a great skill to develop.

 

Overall, I don't think there is any reason you can't building your reading speed now (as long as you are reading level appropriate materials). It doesn't need to be some far off goal decades down the road. 

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imron
This assumes you already can recognize the characters/words and now you are trying to build reading speed.

I think this is something that is important for all learners to do, because often our reading speed gets set at a lowish level at the beginner/intermediate level, and then people don't make any effort to change this as they get more advanced.  It's not difficult for many advanced learners to make significant gains in reading speed if they put in the effort.

 

One way to do this is to measure your 'normal' speed and then purposefully try to read faster.  Practice regularly (daily if possible) and keep measuring your reading speeds.  I mention one way to do this here.

 

It's important to do this over a prolonged period of time, because you wont notice day-to-day increases, but when you start to compare month to month increases, they should be quite noticeable - assuming you are choosing the correct input - e.g. content you can already understand.

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