How do I choose materials suitable for my level?

Golden leaves, golden shoes, golden nuggets of information. I do like autumn!
Golden leaves, golden shoes, golden nuggets of information. I do like autumn!

A new type of post on the blog, I’ll periodically be featuring short posts with little golden nuggets of knowledge or advice about language learning.

Thảo ơi, how do I choose reading and listening materials suitable for my level?

A good rule of thumb is to read material that’s a little harder than your level and listen to material that’s a little easier.

This can make a huge difference between being able to understand something and feeling so confused that you give up.

To read easily, you don’t want to be looking up more than a few words per page or article. If you’re studying rather than reading for pleasure, you can increase that figure. But even then, if you find yourself stopping every few words then consider putting that article or story aside for a few weeks and trying again when you’re a bit further along in your studies.

As for listening, even if you’re naturally good at it it’s harder than reading. Ever struggled to understand something and put subtitles on to help? Yeah, that’s it. At that point you’re reading the subtitles rather than listening to the dialogue because you can’t actually do both at the same time. Like the situation with struggling to read an article that’s above your level, if you find yourself needing subtitles then you need to find something easier to practice your listening skills for the time being.

Now you know how to tell if your materials are the right level for you, you’re ready to choose some new ones! Vietnamese learners can start here.