How Reading Helps in an Immersion Environment

Posted on | June 19, 2011 | 6 Comments

As soon as I stepped out of the plane and into São Paulo for the first time, I was surprised how much Portuguese I could read.

This is partially helped by my knowledge in French and Spanish. But I believe the main reason is that before I came, I worked on reading a lot. I read Portuguese documents from work, a few short novels, as well as studied conversation transcriptions from BrazilPod. At the same time, I build my in-context vocabulary using LingQ and Anki.

Being able to understand what is written around me makes my São Paulo stay so much comfortable. I don’t have any difficulty reading street signs and warnings, getting around the city by Metro, and understanding restaurant menus. I can also understand TV programs and ads well with the help of words popping up on the screen. If I were to use the typical self-study method to learn the language before I came, namely, work on conversation practices and vocabulary lists, I would have to trade off my time working on reading, and I would not be able to read as much Portuguese as I can now.

The soonest I make myself comfortable living in a foreign place, the soonest I can gain the full potential of interacting with the locals. I am glad to find myself comfortably living in this city within the first week of arriving, thanks to the ability to understand the surroundings.


6 Responses to “How Reading Helps in an Immersion Environment”

  1. Lucas
    June 23rd, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

    Parabéns meu amigo, fico muito feliz de saber que esta gostando dessa lingua tão rica que é o português.

  2. Andrew
    June 29th, 2011 @ 8:08 am

    Not surprised, but what I really want to know is this: how much do you think all that reading practice helped you with regards to listening comprehension and speaking? I personally think it helps quite a bit, more than people give it credit for.


  3. edwin
    June 29th, 2011 @ 11:39 am

    Obrigado, Lucas.

  4. edwin
    June 29th, 2011 @ 11:42 am

    Hi Andrew,
    I find reading (only) mainly helps in vocabulary building, which of course is important.

    As for its help on listening and speaking, it somehow depends on the language. For phonetic languages like Spanish, I find reading helps a lot. For Portuguese, I find it helps the most if I read and listen at the same time.

  5. David Bolton
    December 14th, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    Reading can definitely help comprehension, even listening comprehension, depending on the language. Japanese, for example, due to its use of kanji (pictograms), can hardly be improved on the listening level by reading – though it takes years to learn to read it, anyway. In general, however, in languages such as Spanish, if you plan to improve your listening skills by reading, you might try reading aloud: after all, the written word is one thing, and the SOUND of that word another.

  6. Andrew Weiler
    December 26th, 2012 @ 12:58 am

    Reading can have many uses that most people are not aware of. Check out some of the uses here:

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