How can you learn to write well? How can you enrich your vocabulary? What about improving your ability to express ideas and concepts? And how can you improve your language skills while having fun and enjoying yourself at the same time? If you want to improve your foreign language skills, the best advice would certainly be to read as much as possible! Likewise, if you want to keep learning new vocabulary and improving your ability to express yourself in a foreign language—whether orally or in writing—we strongly recommend that you read foreign-language stories or novels.
(CC Photo Credit: “A Boy Reading a Book” by Daehyun Park)
Why You Should Read in a Foreign Language
Many people think it takes highly advanced language skills to be able to read a book, but this isn’t the case at all! All you need to gain a general understanding of a text are 300 carefully chosen words. Right from the very first weeks of learning a new language, you can start benefitting from the joys of reading … Simply follow these tips:
- Use “graded readers”, books indicating their required reading level (details to follow).
- Choose books carefully. Don’t forget that reading should be enjoyable, despite the effort it takes. Select books that interest you and stories that intrigue you!
- Don’t start translating every word you don’t know, use context to help you understand the meanings of the sentences.
- Identify key phrases. If you don’t understand them, look up the most important words in the dictionary, and write down their meanings. MosaLingua applications will soon offer users the option to add their own flashcards …
- Start with short stories and texts so that you can become confident in your skills and won’t tire yourself out.
- Then, move on to novels. It’s best to choose compelling novels that you won’t be able to put down and that you will therefore finish faster.
In the next article, we’ll explore in detail a selection of books to read when you’re learning a foreign language.
Tips and Tricks to Help You Find Books to Learn a Foreign Language
Before we let you go, here are some tips to help you find the right types of literature to use as foreign language learning material.
Start with the basics
A great place to start is at the beginning, by reading children’s books! Really any books that contain short passages and short sentences will help you learn when you’re just starting out! It’s also a good idea to listen to accompanying audio. Trying to read a complicated newspaper or novel too soon will just make you frustrated, so have patience!
Read books (or other reading material) that you have already read in your native language
Even if you read something in your native language a long time ago, you will still have the general idea of what it is about, which will help you incredibly in picking up context clues and learning new vocab. You’ll be focused less on what the story is about and more on the language.
Listen to audiobooks
Listening to an audiobook while reading will help tremendously even if you don’t know every word that is being spoken. This is because it will help train your ear and get you used to the speed of a native speaker in the language. It is also recommended that you read along while listening to an audiobook if you are a beginner so that you can avoid missing some of the words.
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