Wikipedia: The Ultimate Language Resource?

Happy February!

This post in a nutshell: Wikipedia + Extensive Reading + Intensive Reading = Yes

Read the longer version below.

It all started with Anki…

Recently I’ve been experimenting with ways to make adding cards to Anki easier. Basically, the problem was that when I came across a new word I want to learn, finding example sentences was a less than ideal process. I’ve become way more picky about the sources of these sentences. I used to just use the dictionary example sentences, then I found those too vague and boring. Then I used Twitter to find example sentences. I still do, but not as much as I used to.

What do geiko-san have to do with this?

So basically this started when I wanted to find out more about the origins of maiko-san, which ultimately led to me reading about geiko-san as well. Long story short, I made cards out of the wikipedia articles on the subject. Then I started doing the same for other wikipedia pages that interested me. Then it hit me.  If I can read an interesting article and learn a bunch of new words that way, there’s no reason I can’t use this resource to learn vocabulary from other sources.

The point

Basically I’ll come across a new word that I want to learn. I then search for that word in Wikipedia and look for an interesting article that contains that word. I’ve been doing this for the past week or so and I am really enjoying it. The other day I learned the word for spurs (拍車). Cool, right? It has led to a lot more reading, and because everything is in an interesting article filled with context, the words are very easy to remember.  I just make cloze-deletion cards for all the vocabulary I want to learn.

This resource is not perfect, despite the title of this post, so there is still a place for dictionary and Twitter example sentences when this fails me. However, Wikipedia has become my new first stop for example sentences.

Point two

Then it hit me again! Why don’t I just “study” by reading a bunch of wikipedia articles? I can easily find topics I’m interested in, not to mention the extensive outgoing links that put me that much closer to related web pages on whatever topic I want.

Why didn’t I think of this earlier?

Seriously. It’s so simple. Wikipedia can be used both for extensive and intensive reading. It may not be the ultimate resource, but based on my experiences so far it’s pretty darn close.

What do you think?

Do you use wikipedia for language practice? Do you have another resource you like to use for extensive and intensive reading? Let me know with a comment below!

Author: Koyami

I'm Koyami. I am a freelance Japanese-English Translator and I enjoy learning new skills and reading in my spare time. Current pursuits include learning Mandarin Chinese, getting familiar with Blender, and collecting all of the 十二国記 books. Follow me on Twitter and Google+ for blog updates, my Japanese word of the day, and more!