What’s with “Learn English / French the Hard Way” challenge anyway?

Instead of putting the windy and long description of aims and objectives of “Learn English the Hard Way” challenge in every article of such category (which would be flat-out exhaustive for both readers and me), I decided to outline the whole nine yards in this article once and for all.

Furthermore, I thought it would be sensible to provide a link (which I did, hooray!) in every “Gram & Vocab Hunts” article to this thorough description as to what makes the challenge ticks. Because common sense. Yeah, really. Not even kidding.


Hi there! Chances are you are looking for improving your English language comprehension through reading books. Feel like upping your game and start catching the slightest subtleties of English? Look no further.

In this series of articles conveniently titled “Grammar & Vocabulary Hunts” I offer you interpretation challenges (with no answers. How crazy is that?) of  Grammar & Vocabulary findings cherry-picked by me while reading books, stories or comics as well as watching movies and game movies.

And let me tell you, every single time I manage to seek out quite a few curious findings, no matter the content type.

Huh? Didn’t catch that. What’s with this kind of articles? What’s it all about? Ok, here’s a long version breakdown of what’s going on here.

I read a book, story, comics or watch a move, game movie in English all the while paying close attention to the way English language is used therein, namely rare adjectives, no less obscure adverbs, slippery interjections, snobbish nouns, bombastic verbs, cute collocations, seemingly endless idioms, instructive proverbs, tricky grammar constructions, witty comebacks, sarcastic remarks; in short, that which I call “Grammar & Vocabulary Hunt”.

Having read / watched the content and highlighted all the necessary sentences (what’s the rationale of providing one with bare words with no attendant sentences and expecting one to accomplish linguistic feats? In this daunting task of language mastery, such as ours, context never hurts – the more the better), I then add finishing touches to the list by conveniently applying bold formatting to the words and constructions that intrigued me and should most definitely intrigue you.

Now here comes the catch. Or the head scratching part. Or else The Challenge Itself. Call it what you will, the task of this immense mental exercise is as follows:

  • Before your eyes you will have a list of quoted contexts (for the sake of readability). Within each quoted context you may observe highlighted word(s) and entire sentences, even.
  • Your task, as a diligent and tenacious learner of English, would be to attempt to interpret the bold selections in English (En – En) and / or in your native language (En – Native Lang). Written or orally, matters little. Discovery and research – that’s the name of the game.
  • While you’re at it, you might as well consider inputting your answers, along with the context selections and bold words, into your Anki flashcards.

Seems easy peasy banana squeezy enough for you? Well, just you wait until you actually get down to working through the findings, as I am a pretty attentive, picky, and ruthless non-native reader of books in English, when it comes right down to it.

Ah, and by the way, to make the task even more challenging and ridiculous (if possible?!?), I provided no answers. What’s that? Yes, you read it right. There are no answers in the article.

Run again. What’s the point? Well, I firmly believe that each person interested in acquiring foreign languages should improve the target language, as one way of doing that, through asking himself/herself pertinent questions concerning Grammar & Vocabulary, such as…

“Why is this thing is used here? What if I omit it? How would the sentence meaning change?”

“Why, on earth, would he put an inversion here?”

“Do I know what this or that word means? Am I sure of that? No? Finally being honest. Better look it up”;

thus, creating new and far stronger connections in neurons and cementing the newly acquired knowledge for good. From my experience, sadly enough, ready answers and shortcuts do not quite cut it with foreign languages.

There you have it. That’s what I’ve been doing with reading books, stories and comics as well as watching movies and game movies for a while.

Take it or leave it.

Though, I can tell you this much for sure. If you manage to stick it out and in fact read / watch, say, 15 books / movies in English and notice (the most important step), analyze, interpret, input your findings in Anki, run them through memorization algorithms of SRS, and finally manage to confidently make use of your hard-won “Grammar & Vocabulary” thingies in writing and / or spontaneous speech, then I assure you, your English language knowledge and comprehension will skyrocket like you wouldn’t believe.

The only shortcut I offer is that I actually took the time reading the book and then compiling the list of curious words and constructions for you. The list in itself is tricky yet its language learning experience is invaluable and rewarding.

And another thing. You’re mostly encouraged to read books, stories and comics; watch movies and game movies on your own as my lists are based on my knowledge of English. Your mileage may greatly differ.

All in all, now that you understand what these challenges are all about, the least I could do here is wish you luck and have fun interpreting Grammar and Vocabulary findings!

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