I love reading. I enjoy following people’s chain of thoughts and having myself immersed in worlds created by words. It could be quite a transcendent experience if I find something I really like. That kind of wonder happens less when I read in English. One of the reasons is my incompetent vocabulary. Sometimes I do lookup words while I read but that takes time and context switching ruins the mood. Thus I often skip those which I guess not significant to the meaning of the text. Occasionaly I guess wrongly. But even when I’m right, I know I miss out something. The world painted in my head is incomplete. It’s missing some fine touches that the authors intended to be there.
A while ago, I read this post by Vojtech Rinik on Hacker News. I think it’s a great idea: you learn the new words of the text you’re gonna read before hand, so that when you stumble upon them in the text, you’re prepared.
So I whipped up something recently: http://readsomething.herokuapp.com.
If I plan to read something, I would paste the text in the textbox. The app will show me a list of words in that text, sorted by number of occurrences. Infrequent words are usually non well-known words and more likely new to me. That’s why they’re at the top. I could click on a word to see its Google definition. I could mark a word as
ignored and it won’t show up again in the list, even when I process new chunk of text (I persisted data locally in Indexed DB).
I have many other ideas for this, but for now let me just eat my own dog food and use it to finish my newest attempt at English books: Still life of a woodpecker.
I hope it’s helpful for other people too.