The Limits of Regular Language Courses
If you are learning a language to order spaghetti when on holiday in Italy, or enquire for a room in a hotel in Paris, I guess you can stop here. If you want to learn a language to be able to actually read it and have a more complete vocabulary when speaking it, you found the right method here. Whether you want to read about the land or its people, or to read works of the interesting authors any language has, you'll have to become fluent enough to pick up to 95 to 98% of the words in a given book. That means a vocabulary of 5,000 to 20,000 words, depending on the newspaper or book you plan to read (magazine or quality journal, bestseller or masterpiece).
Regular courses only get you as far as the spaghetti, in most cases. Either because the course just doesn't expand beyond chapters like "dinner", "hotel" and "friends" or because the course offers a bigger vocabulary but no guarantee that you will remember the words you studied. Most courses just offer pretty boring texts with rows and rows of words to cram into your memory, and no way to check your progress. And the number of words stops at 200, 500, or maybe a thousand. Way too few to start reading anything beyond the signs at your hotel.
Flash Cards, Spaced Repetition and Extensive Reading
Learning through flash cards and word repetition is a way to enhance your vocabulary, but a pretty boring one as well. You can end up with hundreds or thousands of word cards, no idea what you're doing and what you're doing it for, and an aversion of the language and returning to study it. It can be pretty effective, as you will only learn the words you don't know yet, and place the ones you know at the back.
Reading itself, or Extensive Reading, as the language learning method is called, is a much more fun way of learning a language, but to learn the same amount of words as you do in flash cards will cost a lot of time or amounts to a lot of pages read before certain words are "met" that you need to encounter to learn them. Also paper-based reading to learn a language will force you to either guess words from context, or, if you have a translation of the book in your own language or are reading a dual language text, you'll have to guess the meaning from a free form translation. Online reading with google translation or on sites where google translation is added to every word is faster than looking up words in a dictionary or even an extensive reader index, but still forces you to select the word, right click and wait till the google translation pops up. Which subsequently is incorrect, in the wrong conjugation or just absent. When you finish reading a text research shows that only 5% or in the best case 20% of the new words actually are remembered.
Bermuda Word and Fast Intensive Reading
At Bermuda Word we make products that go beyond regular language courses, and try to negate the disadvantages and combine the advantages of Flash Cards, Spaced Repetition and Extensive Reading. Our E-Books offer texts around 10,000 words with 1,000 to 3,000 unique words depending on the level of the texts. The pop-up translation is immediate, not even a few seconds like on most e-reading sites. It is also completely in line with the given text, in context, in correct conjugation and if applicable explanatory of the word, collocation or specific sentence that is read. The underlying software will remember the words that you don't know, and make you practice them. Only the words that you don't know are practiced, and they're only practiced if the software knows you're not going to encounter the words in the text anymore. It also offers Chapter based tests that measure whether you are ready to go to a next chapter. Once you have read the E-Book you have enhanced your vocabulary with 90% to 100% of new words. When you have read Bermuda Word E-Books in a given language you will enhance your ability to read newspapers, bestsellers or literature in that language.
With a Bermuda Word E-Book, it's fun reading of real foreign language texts, translations are superfast and very understandable, and there's no unnecessary practising of words, so in short you're spending your time efficient, and in a fun way. Also, because of the availability of the texts on http://www.bermudaword.com, you can freely practice and read and reread while in the bus or on the couch or even on the beach on your smartphone or tablet, and use a 30 minute session in the evening for example to read and complete a Chapter and its tests, while being monitored by the software on your word knowledge. So no unnecessary computer time either, and the practising of unknown words will be limited to those difficult words that are left when you have read and understood the Chapter with the pop-up translation but still fail to lodge into your memory. The software will make sure those words are added as well so a 100% word retention is possible.