improve reading skills with these 80-20 language learning strategies

The words hidden behind language are doors to their country’s culture

If you want to improve reading skills in a language that uses the same or similar alphabet to the language you are used to, it will be a quick process to learn it. However, if you are planning to learn a foreign language using a totally different alphabet or script, you will need some help with reading and learning it. Below are some language learning strategies that can be applied to improve reading skills.

Before you start, find out these key points about the script or alphabet you want to learn.

  • The total number of individual characters or alphabets.
  • How many are known by native speakers.
  • What are the 20% of characters you need to know in order to be able to read 80% of the language. (In other words, what are the most commonly used characters).

Some Asian languages have thousands and thousands of unique characters. However,
only a fraction of them are actually used in everyday life.

If the language you want to learn has an alphabet, learning them by heart will be a quick process because of the limited amount of alphabets you need to know.
After that, simply start looking for children story books and basic phrase books. You can also continue using the books such as Teach Yourself, Assimil, etc.

When learning a language that has a script and characters, the process is very similar.
The only difference is that you should focus on the most common characters first.
Later you can start moving on to stories and textbooks. For example, when learning mandarin Chinese, you will find that the most commonly used 40 to 50 percent of characters include only 200 to 300 unique characters. After learning these, you can move on to some simple children text books and continue to learn new characters in context rather than on flash cards. This methods ensures you to effectively improve reading skills.

By searching the internet you can find many different frequency lists for characters.
With languages using character rather than an alphabet, it is basically an ongoing process to learn them. Although it can be hard at sometimes, the knowledge you receive in return is unimaginable. Often a major part of a country’s culture and values are hidden within the written language.