Monday, December 11, 2006

Reading helps us to learn

Learning any foreign language includes learning the grammar, spelling and pronunciation of that language, but perhaps most of all, it means learning and remembering the vocabulary of the language.

In some situations, it can mean the difference between being understood and not being understood. In a situation where the learner wants directions to a Post Office, for example, and not knowing the words ‘Post’ or ‘office, the person is left to either gesticulate or produce an addressed envelope without a stamp attached and a quizzical expression in the hope that the other person understands what is wanted.

There are only a few, main ways of learning vocabulary – by looking at a phrase book and having a go, by watching TV, or by reading books, magazines, newspapers or any other version of the printed word.

Reading gives us words in context, unlike dictionaries and sometimes phrase books, it gives us words in sentences, in ways that are normally used by native speakers.

But reading gives us so much more than words – it gives us information, enjoyment, recreation, food for thought, topics of conversation, and a working knowledge of the language.

Someone said that it is in the act of reading that we find out that we are not alone; it is in reading that we form our own point of view, our own opinion, and sometimes our own feelings. It is in reading that we find out about other people, places, predicaments, activities, and events .

For reading widely – reading a lot of varied texts: reading fiction, non-fiction, novels, poems, short stories and articles gives us so much more than any other medium could ever do – it locates us, historically, socially, linguistically, ideologically, geographically and culturally. It locates us in time, place and in civilization – in a particular place in civilization, culturally and literally.

And while we learn through what we read, we grow as people and we add to the common stock of knowledge and wisdom of the age in which we live.

Robert L. Fielding


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