The boring nature of most learner content is a real problem in language learning. Going after interesting content is often too difficult because there are too many new words and phrases. What can we do?
While some learners like dictionaries, I do not. Using them is like one-way love. You put a lot of effort into looking words up, you think things are fine when you are in the dictionary, but in fact very little remains. The dictionary does not do it for you. You are left empty.
For this reason, when I learned I had to begin by relying on whatever content I could find with word lists attached.This often meant boring content. It meant word lists that distracted you from your reading. It meant that often the words you wanted to know where not on the list. I might add that all the grammatical explanations in these text books was for me just so much filler put there for the gratification of the editor of the text book. I just ignored them. In the case of Chinese, fortunately, there were some books on history, politics, literature etc. with real , not learner content. Unfortunately most of this content did not have audio to go with it.
As I got better I went to content of my choice, books, newspapers, magazines. At times I would look words up, but mostly I just the let the unknown words go by. Reading, exposure, washing brain in the new language, getting used to how words come together in the new language was what I was looking for. The problem is bridging the gap from your beginner and intermediate stage until you get to the advanced stage. And if there were a better way to handle advanced reading of your choice, so that you could systematicall learn the unknown words, that would be a big plus.
It was my frustration over conventional learning material that caused me to develop The Linguist. At The Linguist we are constantly asking the learner to link new words and phrases and put them into a personal database for later study. The link also provides an explanation and translation. The learner can ask his/her tutor if he/she gets stuck. These links create examples of the words and phrases from the learners’ listening and reading. The learner is asked to use these new words and phrases in their writing and reading. This all works.
For other languages like Japanese or Swedish or whatever ( I am looking forward to doing Korean and Portuguese, and then Arabic, Russian and Hindi) you will just have to wait another six months until we launch The Linguist for other languages.