Read More Or Die — ReadMOD/多読, A Foreign Language Extensive Reading Contest (2013 Edition)

LordSilent is an AJATTeer who participated in the original “International L2 Reading Contest” and was surprised by the positive boost that reading had on his Japanese in all areas, not just reading. Inspired by this, he kept reading and decided to create what is now known as ReadMOD (Read More or Die) or the 多読 Contest, to share the wonders of reading in your target language with other learners. He’s writing this in the third person so it sounds like Khatzumoto wrote it, because he’s awesome like that. Here he is in the first person with information on this year’s contest:

What if I told you that there was a language study method that wasn’t studying at all, and in fact barely even a method?

And then what if I told you that this method has been demonstrated over and over again to be more effective than just about anything else?

Do you remember the hours you spent as a child (if you were anything like I was, and, I’d guess, like most people reading this site, you were) devouring story after story, book after book? There’s very little the human mind hungers after more than knowing how a story ends. And there’s only one way to find out: keep reading. So you did.

But the stories were not all you learned. While you spent those hours and days reading, your mind was processing what it saw, spotting patterns, storing vocabulary, organizing small patterns into larger ones, learning which words could be expected to be seen with which others and in what order, strengthening and deepening over and over all those millions of connections that make up what we call language. And as time went on this unconscious learning grew and grew, and you graduated from children’s picture books to teen novels to Robert Frost and Shakespeare and Hemingway and Tolkien and the Brontës and Thoreau and, in short, became a master of the English language.

And then one day you decided to learn a foreign language, so you went out and bought a textbook and started memorizing grammar and vocabulary … or was I the only one that did something that silly?

I invite you to go back to that time of exploration and wonder, to start the process over, to find new stories in a new language, to see new things that you couldn’t see any other way. And don’t worry, the mind will take care of sorting out the patterns, as long as you let it see enough of them.


The 多読 (たどく, extensive reading) contest has been going on for a while, but has had a brief hiatus recently. Now we’re back on track and ready for another month of all-you-can-read, beginning January 1st. Registration is simple, and explained here. Many languages are supported, and if you like, you can read more than one. You can view scores on the web app, and can report your reading either there or using Twitter. Most pages at the end of the month wins! (No prizes. You already got a massive boost in fluency, what more do you want?)

It’s true that the most advanced learners have a nearly insurmountable advantage for the top position, but that certainly isn’t the only competition there is. You can pick someone close to you and compete with them (I always do this. I think most people do), you can compete with someone you know, and most importantly you can compete with your past self. If seeing that your score is two or five or ten times what it was in a past contest isn’t encouraging, I don’t know what is.

I look forward to reading together with all of you!


If the above words from Lan’dorien have inspired you to join us in reading domination this month, you can use the following steps to sign up:

  1. Get a Twitter account (remember to set your timezone information)
  2. Go to ReadMOD.com and sign in with your twitter
  3. Click on the 「Register for next round」 button
  4. Read Read Read!

Additional instructions and information can be found at readmod.wordpress.com. If you have any questions you can comment on the blog, send a message to @lordsilent, or contact me on the irc.rizon #ajatt.


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  14 comments for “Read More Or Die — ReadMOD/多読, A Foreign Language Extensive Reading Contest (2013 Edition)

  1. zach sarette
    January 6, 2013 at 10:23

    This should have been posted here a long time ago. There are some other rules to consider it actual extensive reading. Otherwise you might be doing intensive reading, which is also good, but much too slow and time consuming.

    Rule # 1: Read easy level books. If there are more than 3 words in the book that you don’t know, pick an easier one.

    Rule # 2: When you are reading, don’t use a dictionary.

    Rule # 3: Skip over words you don’t know. Eventually you will understand through context. Just let it go.

    Rule # 4: If you don’t feel like reading the book, choose a different one. Choose something you like.

    That’s the gist of it. There are graded readers out there for those of you who can’t quite make it reading stuff for kids. If you are in Japan you can get them easily and cheaply. I can get them cheaper here in Korea, but not all of them are published in Korea. You can also order them here: shop.whiterabbitjapan.com/the-complete-set-japanese-graded-readers.html#.UOjRoIlet_0 But they are a bit pricey. However you do get many many books.

    • January 6, 2013 at 13:31

      What the tadoku challenge is about is promoting reading in a foreign language, if you have to look up some words that’s okay. Don’t let it stop you from reading. It is great to have graded readinger to start out with but, if you don’t have access to a library of them you will run out of books that are easy enough (to not have to look up any words) before you get good enough to move on to more advanced books. Especially if we are talking the 60 pages a week Antimoon suggests he needed to reach fluency in 3 years www.antimoon.com/how/input-howmuch.htm

      The thing about intensive reading is that the trade off to looking up every word is that as you read it gets much easier, so the amount of look ups goes down over time. When I started Harry Potter in Korean I had to look up every word, it’s gotten easier over time and I can now read short passages of it without having to stop for every word in order to get the definition.

      From my own experience I know that there are just some words you won’t learn from context for a long long time or possibly ever. Recall that you have to look up words sometimes in your native language because the context doesn’t always make it clear. So doing some look ups can actually help you progress faster. Of course the point is to make reading a part of your language learning strategy so whatever you feel comfortable with is the way to go, just want to point out that you don’t have to adhere to these strict rules to participate (or make progress in your target language). And that’s the point in the end is to build a reading habit you can stick with!

  2. zach sarette
    January 6, 2013 at 10:25

    Sorry, I meant if there are more than 3 words on the page, then you should choose an easier book. It’s all apart of comprehensible input. The more you comprehend the better.

  3. ライトニング
    January 6, 2013 at 12:33

    I have at least 15 books I’ve barely touched, now a great time to start I guess. No, I will!

  4. ライトニング
    January 7, 2013 at 02:07

    お前等に勝ってみせてやるぜ

  5. January 8, 2013 at 21:16

    This is great advice. Reading is fundamental to improving language ability. The key is not to read things that are too hard! Read at or below your level, and read a lot. Read things with furigana if your kanji level isn’t up to par yet, or read online with the Rikaichan plugin for Firefox.

    I don’t agree with strictly avoiding dictionary use, since it can help to make sense of what you’re reading. Of course, if you have to use it too much, you may be at too high of a level, but looking up a few words per page isn’t a problem.

  6. june
    January 9, 2013 at 10:40

    I’m with Ken.
    Not sure why all the dictionary ‘hate’ in the Extensive Reading literature. Understanding from context takes a long, long time. Who wants to wait?
    Instead of avoiding dictionary use entirely, just avoid it while you’re actually reading. Scribble down (on a separate sheet) all the words you don’t know as you read, and look them up/add them to the ol’ SRS later.
    All of those ER studies would have shown much better results if they’d done it that way, IMO.
    Rather than seeing the same word 10 times before you actually get what it means (IF you get what it really, truly means…’vaguely’ doesn’t count), why not see it once or twice, look it up at your next convenient ‘dictionary session’, and then have it reinforced the next 8 times you see it?
    Anyway, ReadMOD: I’m in!

    • Zachary W Sarette
      January 10, 2013 at 09:43

      Actually, understanding through context is very fast. Especially if you choose the right level of reading. This has been my experience. You have to train your mind to do it. And when you do, the rewards are much greater.

      When you learned how to read English, did you look up every word in the dictionary?

      The reason why ER advises against dictionary use is because:

      1.It slows down the process.
      2.You become dependent on the dictionary. You need to do things to make you less dependent.
      3.It’s a measure to see if the book is too hard for you.
      4.You want to build your reading fluency, you want to learn to read at native speed.

      It’s a hard habit to break. I know from experience. But, just try it. Try it for a few books.

      No one is stopping you from using a dictionary. 😛

      • gimme a break bud
        February 2, 2013 at 14:31

        Actually, understanding through context is very fast. Especially if you choose the right level of reading.
        — Lemme guess. Picture book?

        When you learned how to read English, did you look up every word in the dictionary?
        — Please stop trying to compare learning a native language to a second language. You’re an adult learning a language, not a baby/child. You haven’t lived with the language as an essential part of your life for 10-20 years. You never went through the school system in the language you’re learning. You haven’t conversed with family/friends/coworkers/strangers for thousands of hours in all sorts of contexts/on all sorts of subjects. There is obviously no need to check everything in a dictionary over years and years of repeated exposure. This kind of exposure will never happen for you as a second language learner and if you want to read like an adult, you don’t have the time/luxury to not use a dictionary (a lot – before reaching a point of barely needing it).

        1.It slows down the process.
        — Of what? Certainly not knowledge acquisition.

        4.You want to build your reading fluency, you want to learn to read at native speed.
        –To build reading fluency, you have to spend a lot of time reading (obviously) and build a large reading vocabulary in the process (obviously). A dictionary is a shortcut, not a crutch. There’s more than enough room to puzzle over the finer details of a language without adding ambiguity by being lazy about vocab, something that can be made almost entirely clear for you with a good dictionary and Google. Reading speed increases naturally as familiarity with the material increases, not because someone practices tripping over unclear text as fast as possible.

  7. a Chinese language learner
    January 30, 2013 at 17:39

    I definitely agree that reading more helps. I read half of 杨红英 (Yang Hongying)’s 女生日记 (Diary of a Schoolgirl) in Chinese, skipping over the words I didn’t know and only stopping to look up words that continuously appeared. I haven’t actually finished it yet, since I got a bit sidetracked and distracted by some other Chinese books I have. I rarely have the patience to read a book from start to finish anyway. Normally I get frustrated, but this time I just went with the flow and read as sporadically as I wanted to. It didn’t really feel like I was progressing, because I didn’t feel like I was learning any new words or grammar or anything.

    Recently, I bought some new Chinese books. One was the Chinese translation of a children’s book called Geronimo Stilton: The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid. I found that I actually understood most of the words and sentences, though I attributed that to having read the book previously in English. When I got home, though, I opened a Chinese children’s book on dinosaurs. There were quite a few words that I didn’t understand there, but I was surprised that I could still find a lot that I knew or could guess. Sentence structures also don’t confuse me as much as they did when I picked up my first Chinese book: although I can’t write sentences with more complex structures, at least now I can understand them- when they’re written down, that is (speaking and listening is another matter). I haven’t really done any active study, so I’m assuming that my improvements are probably due to simply reading. Now I have to work on listening- perhaps I might start with my Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings DVDs that I bought in China…

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