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Saturday, April 7

How to Get the Most Out of Reading Picture Books

Amerigo's First Law of Reading for Fun: Lose the Dictionary.

By show of hands. Who loves picture books? How many like comic books like Condor and Mafalda; or the classic picture books like Tintin and Asterix? They are a boon to learning Spanish.

Why lose the dictionary?

When we read in our first language we never read word-for-word; we always read by gist. Even when the reading is a tough slog we still do not read every word and we rarely look up anything unless we need to for academic or technical precision.

Why do we think we have to look up every single word in a Spanish article? We don't. When learning Spanish, gist reading is equally important but more difficult to allow ourselves to do. Perhaps we feel guilty or lazy. In school when we didn't know a particular word, we were told to look it up in the dictionary. Those pesky teachers' voices are difficult to dislodge from our memories. They should have told us just to carry on and we would figure it out all in good of time.

When we read without a Spanish/English dictionary we are not being lazy. We are gaining a lot more information and understanding than we give ourselves credit for. Without the looming spectre of the dictionary, we can focus instead on the situations and characters in the graphics. Learning Spanish with picture books can be a lot more fun.

So here's something to tell those pesky voices from the past. Silence. I lost my dictionary.

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