Here, in a corpus consisting of 707 452 scientific abstracts published between 1881 and 2015 from 122 influential biomedical journals, we show that the readability of science is steadily decreasing. Further, we demonstrate that this trend is indicative of a growing usage of general scientific jargon.
The authors conclude:
more than a quarter of scientific abstracts now have a readability considered beyond college graduate level English.
So if you find a scientific article hard to understand, it may not be your fault!
A Study in Scarlet is the book in which Dr Watson first meets Sherlock Holmes, and therefore perhaps the best book to start with. If you prefer short stories, you could start with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
English language learners can measure the size of their English vocabulary at VocabularySize.com.
There is an online test of 140 questions. Teachers can create class tests.
It has been claimed that you need to know at least 98% of the words in a text to be able to understand it fairly easily. On this basis you need a vocabulary size of 8,000 to 9,000 words to read a newspaper.
And you find that sort of rootless existence appealing, do you?
Yes, ma’am, I do.
I mean, I’ve got everything I need right here with me.
I got air in my lungs and a few blank sheets of paper.
I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen …
or who I’m gonna meet …
where I’m gonna wind up.
Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge, and now …
here I am on the grandest ship in the world …
having champagne with you fine people. Titanic
For some films there are even bilingual subtitles:
I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, 我是海军陆战队中士哈特曼
your senior drill instructor. 是你们的高级训练教官
You will speak 除非我先说话…
only when spoken to 你们不得擅自开口
The first and last words out of your sewers will be “Sir! ” 你们跟我说话首尾都要冠以”长官”一词
Do you maggots understand? 你们这些蛆虫明白吗?
Sir, yes, sir! 长官 是 长官 Full Metal Jacket
Ways to add subtitles to films are discussed here. To read them online, choose a film, a language, then one of the subtitle files. Then under Fileinfo click on the Transcript icon:
Want to read something that’s not a textbook? Then join Norfolk Libraries! You can borrow books, eBooks, eAudio books and eMagazines for free. You can also borrow CDs, DVDs and console games for a charge.
If you’re looking for something to read online, there is always fan fiction.
For example, FanFiction has 50,000 stories based on the Star Wars movies and 800,000 inspired by the Harry Potter books. The TV series Father Ted, on the other hand, has produced a measly 15 stories.
On a similar site, Archive of Our Own, there are 50,000 works about the band One Direction. For instance, Fading is 202,393 words, about twice the length of an average novel, and has been translated into Spanish. It starts like this:
Louis almost snaps when there is a light tap on the door of the studio. His knuckles go white on the edge of the cutting table but he forces himself to take a deep breath and put on a smile before he turns around. He isn’t the type to take his frustrations out on others, he prefers to take them out on himself. When he turns he finds Liam poking his head just past the door frame, hesitant to come in and disturb Louis.
Only 202,309 words to go!
FanFiction has a rating system for its stories: basically, K = Kids, T = Teens, M = Mature. The site “does not accept explicit content”. Archive of Our Own’s rating system is G = General, T = Teen, M = Mature, E = Explicit. A lot of fan fiction describes romantic/sexual relationships and this is normally indicated at the beginning of the story, along with any other content warnings.
According to this slideshow (from a presentation at the 2015 IATEFL Conference), you need to know 95-98% of the words in a text to be able to read it easily.
At 90%, “For many of your students, this is where ‘fun’ starts to turn into ‘work’.”
The slideshow displays excerpts from a story in which 98% – then 95% – then 90% – then 80% of the text is in English, while the remaining words are gibberish.
Some people think 80% is enough. This is the 80% passage:
“Bingle for help!” you shout. “This loopity is dying!” You put your fingers on her neck. Nothing. Her flid is not weafling. You take out your joople and bingle 119, the emergency number in Japan. There’s no answer! Then you muchy that you have a new befourn assengle. It’s from your gutring, Evie. She hunwres at Tokyo University. You play the assengle. “…if you get this…” Evie says. “…I can’t vickarn now… the important passit is…” Suddenly, she looks around, dingle. “Oh no, they’re here! Cripett… the frib! Wasple them ON THE FRIB!…” BEEP! the assengle parantles. Then you gratoon something behind you…
A whale goes into shallow waters. She is with her calf. She cannot move. This happens in Australia. The calf tries to help her. It pushes her. After 40 minutes, the whale is free. She swims away with her calf.
Difficult words: whale (a big animal which lives in the sea), shallow (not deep; there is not enough water for the whale), calf (the child of an animal such as a whale).
Drama Online has over 2,200 plays which you can read online. You can browse them by title, playwright, period or genre (for example, Theatre of the Absurd, Asian drama, Children’s theatre, Feminist theatre, Musical theatre, Street theatre).
Vladimir: Pull on your trousers. Estragon: You want me to pull off my trousers? Vladimir: Pull ON your trousers. Estragon:(Realizing his trousers are down.) True. (He pulls up his trousers.) Vladimir: Well? Shall we go? Estragon: Yes, let’s go. They do not move.