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Research has shown that the vast majority of words are learned in and from context. So the more you expose yourself to the language, the more your vocabulary will grow. Besides listening, reading is one of the keys to vocabulary growth. So read, read, read – especially things that interest you, that you enjoy, or that are in any way meaningful to you.
I personally enjoy fiction. Though I know not everybody does, I do like to integrate fictional literature into my classes every once in a while. One of my favorite ‘exercises’ is ‘Guess the novel’: I copy pages from well-known classics and have the group read and guess what novels or stories the pages are from. Interestingly, even if they haven’t read the book, in most cases they are able to come up with the correct answer as those I pick seem to have their place in something like a collective consciousness.
Below is one such excerpt. One word in the text proved to be a total give-away, so I shortened it to two initial letters.
3 May. Bistritz
Left Munich at 8:35 pm, on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible.
The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.
We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem. get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendle”, and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians.
I found my smattering of German very useful here, indeed, I don’t know how I should be able to get on without it.
Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding X.; it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a nobleman of that country.
I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, X, Moldavia, and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe.