For both Chinese and Spanish, I'm at this level of proficiency where I can survive in a Mandarin- or Spanish-speaking country and can carry on basic conversations, but can't do much more than that. (I took five years of Spanish in high school, and I'm a heritage speaker of Chinese.) I have a couple books that I'd like to read, but my level of Chinese is at such a low level that I can only read maybe 1/3 or 1/2 of the more common characters, which excludes the characters that give the detail regarding the story; I was able to struggle through the readings for Spanish lit and get the general gist, but rarely the details.
Anyway, I have a book that I'd like to read (第8號當舖 by 深雪, aka Zita Law), and I find that, if I try to look up every character I don't know (basically every other one), I read at an impossibly slow rate. At the same time, I want to learn all the characters that I don't know... but it feels like this would be at the expense of actually taking in the story and reading the book. (I wish there were something like Chinese Pera-kun for print books! Sigh, it makes reading Chinese much easier online...)
What tips or strategies do you guys have? I can pick up a few of the characters and phrases from context clues, but the thing with Chinese is that you can't pick up the characters' pronunciation, which I'd like to know for my spoken Chinese as well.
Advice regarding Spanish is great too, although this more closely pertains to Chinese.
Also, this might be a stretch, but does anyone know why Ubuntu's SCIM input of traditional Chinese characters doesn't go according to the same frequency-based system as its simplified input? Can I fix this? It's a little annoying when I want to type in traditional.
Thanks in advance! You guys are great!