#3 One single tip that makes your language grow and flow

Apr 14, 2021

I know when it comes to language learning, vocabulary is everything. But should you pack them all in one single material, hoping you can magically quadruple your vocabulary counts overnight?

When you learn a language, low-hanging fruits also count. If you can take some time focusing on the word-light content, it will help increase your fluency.

In this episode, I’m going to cover:

  • What are word-heavy and word-light content?
  • The pros and cons of the two types of content
  • The perfect ratio of word-heavy and word-light content

By the end of this episode, you’re going to appreciate the benefits of both types of content. You can also learn how to make good use of the two to make your language learning grow and flow.

If you like this episode, please share it and rate it five star. Not only will it make me happy, it also helps more people get to listen to this episode and transform their language learning.



[00:00:00] You know, vocabulary is the building block when you're learning a language. So in order to master a foreign language, it is common sense to accumulate as many vocabulary words as possible. All you have to do is to push yourself to the limit and memorize as many words as possible. But is that so? 


[00:00:22] Hi, I'm That Language Guy. I'm a language nerd with over two decades of language learning experience under my belt. I've also been working in a language service industry for nearly 20 years. After my decade long career as a translator and language instructor, I want to create a community of language aficionados like you. That's why I created this podcast, The Language DriveThru, where I provide you with weekly dose of language, learning advice and bite-sized chunks. So if you're passionate about language learning, you're in the right place. Now sit tight and get ready for a weekly language learning delight right here in the Language DriveThru. 


[00:01:07] Hey there, language nerd, welcome to the Language DriveThru and That Language Guy, if you haven't already, subscribe to my podcast channel so you can get a fresh dose of language learning advice every Tuesday. 


[00:01:22] Now, tell me this. Do you like to constantly challenge yourself by reading articles packed with words you don't know? Do you think that by doing so you can drastically increase your vocab? Well, granted, if you like to increase the proficiency of your target language, you must accumulate lots of lots of vocabulary. So if you want to have a better command of your target language, then by all means increase your vocabulary. But does that mean the only way to increase your vocabulary counts is to read materials that are packed with unknown words? Well, my answer to that is yes and no. Yes, because it is true that sometimes you really need to read through word heavy materials in order to expand your vocabulary, but you don't want to do that too often. Instead, you need to do so by alternating between word-heavy content and word-light content. You need to better arrange a proportion of the two. But before I share with you how you can do that, let's look at the definition of word-light content and word-heavy content. 


[00:02:34] So first of all, let's look at word-light content. Word-light content is content that contains roughly 20 to 25 percent of unknown words. It's the kind of content that you can more or less understand without constantly referring to your dictionary. For example, right now I'm learning Japanese and I love to flip through my favorite lifestyle magazine called Popeye. And when I read them, I skip words I don't know. I just enjoy the content and images. And the reason I could do that is because most of the articles in the magazine contains around 20 to 25 percent of unknown words. So I can just casually read through them without looking words up in the dictionary. Well, think about it this way: world-light content is pretty much like when you're asked to retrieve a ball on top of a tall bookshelf. You may not be able to retrieve it simply by extending your arm, but you can do so by jumping up and grab it. 


[00:03:36] All right. And then let's move on to word-heavy content. word-heavy content is basically content that contains around 25 to 45 percent of unknown words. And sometimes when I feel like it, I'll choose materials that have even higher percentage of unknown words When I feel like reading some word-heavy content. I would choose articles on current affairs, which is a good way to broaden your horizon while building vocabulary. There's one thing that I want to note, though. When you read word-heavy content, be sure to use online dictionaries. You don't want to spend too much time looking at words one by one using paperback dictionaries. Trust me, that's something that you want to avoid. After all, you're learning a foreign language, not competing on how fast you can look up a word in the dictionary. 


[00:04:31] So a very famous expert on second language acquisition, Stephen Krashen once put forward a very famous theory, which is about meaningful input in language learning. So what it basically means is that in order to make improvements in your target language, you need to choose content that you can more or less understand. So when you only focus on word-heavy content, not only is it discouraging, it might also hinder your understanding. Well, imagine you're listening to content with way too many words you don't know. It's pretty much like listening to exotic noises that don't make much sense. And what's worse, if you were grappling with word-heavy content, it would also stop the flow of the language. When what you read or listen to doesn't make much sense, your language skills won't grow. 


[00:05:27] So here's a very good question that you should ask yourself: how can you strike a perfect balance between the flow of your target language and the growth of your target language? Well, I suggest you spend around two thirds to three quarters of your time reading or listening to word-light content, and you have to read them a lot. Then you want to spend the rest of the time grappling with more word-heavy content. Think about it as jigsaw puzzles. When there are too many missing pieces, you can't see the whole picture. So when what you read or listen to truly don't make much sense, dump that material. Permission granted. 


[00:06:11] Now, over to you. Do you think word-heavy content is the only way that can make your language grow? Do you have other pain free methods that you can use that can effectively increase your vocabulary? Share with us in a comment down below. So did you like this episode? If you do, rate it and share it so more people can get to listen to it. And don't forget to come on over to my website, thatlanguageguy.com, and subscribe to my email list, where you get a weekly dose of language learning ideas and occasional heart to heart in your inbox. That's thatlanguageguy.com. And that's it for this episode of the Language DriveThru. I'll catch you next time. 

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