A man and woman sitting on the bank of the Seine river in Paris

This idea Made Me a Better Reader

My wife and I dangled our legs over the edge of the slop that led down towards the Seine River. Parisians sat all along the river, watching the boats sail past while they enjoyed ham and cheese baguettes and talked about life. Honestly, sitting on the side of that river was the most enjoyable part of the trip for us. At that moment, I decided to learn French.

I wanted to keep Paris with me, and learning to speak their beautiful language seemed like the best way to do that once I returned home. When I got on the plane, I downloaded Duolingo and to learn words like chat (cat) and homme (man). I was well on my way to becoming a French genius.

A week later, I was reading The Intellectual Life by A.G. Sertillange and came across the word inordinate. It was in this passage:

The mind is dulled, not fed, by inordinate reading. It is made gradually incapable of reflection.

I thought I knew what inordinate meant. Maybe. I read it again and realized that I didn’t know, so I looked it up in my trusty dictionary.

Inordinate is an adjective that means “Unusually or disproportionately large; excessive.”

For some reason, I thought it meant “uncommon” or “unnecessary.” I was way off. That’s when my phone dinged with a notification from Duolingo to take my French lesson. Ah! Time to pretend I was a Frenchman. I started the lesson, but couldn’t finish it. The word inordinate was bugging me. I realized that there was an inordinate (disproportionately large) amount of English words I didn’t understand. Why was I learning French when I had so much ground to cover in my language?

I searched for a new app that would help me learn vocabulary. After testing several, I found one I liked. It’s called Atlas English. I have no affiliation with the company, I just like their platform. It feels a little like Duolingo but with a focus on learning vocab. Sorry, there are no cute graphics of people cheering you on as you learn, but the daily quizzes and the journal are pretty great.

When I find a word that I don’t understand, I look it up in Atlas and add it to my flashcards. My vocabulary is slowly improving, and yes, it’s made me a better reader. I’m able to attend to more complex books without having to stop and figure out what’s going on.

When you don’t know the exact meaning of a word, you’re missing out on the message.

The idea of speaking French was romantic, but I’m not in Paris very often. I am, however, in my books all the time and I could use as much help as possible.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.


Published by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *