Reading in a Foreign Language

Photo, David Monje.


Reading in a Foreign Language

Reading in a foreign language is a great way to advance your learning, discover what you can do to make the process easier...

When you only start learning a new language, everything looks easy. You study different words, put them into simple constructions, and learn to speak step by step. When you reach a certain level, though, it gets more and more complicated. You no longer want to use trivial phrases, and you start asking yourself: how can I learn to express my ideas well, to say the right sentence in a given situation, to enrich my vocabulary, to write well, and above all to have fun? There is only one solution: reading in a foreign language.

Spanish, Danish, French, Japanese, German, Hindi, Arabic, Turkish, Mandarin… the process is the same for every language. This article gives you helpful tips for learning a foreign language through reading. You just need to be consistent and follow the tips below.

How to Read Books in a Foreign Language


Should I Translate All the Unknown Words?

No, only those that are important for the understanding of the whole idea. By doing so, you train your linguistic intuition. In the future, if you practice regularly, you will find it easier to guess the meaning of the word from the context surrounding it.

Wanting to look up every misunderstood word in the dictionary will make you lose track of your reading and waste a lot of time. You don’t need to look up every tree or flower name you meet in the text. Don’t overuse the dictionary. Rather, understand the whole story.

If indeed the word you don’t understand comes back over and over and prevents you from understanding the plot, then look it up, but don’t do it systematically. And you will see that through reading, these initially incomprehensible words will no longer be unknown, and you will eventually understand their meaning.

How to Read Books in a Foreign Language

Photo, Juli Kosolapova.

What Book Should I Pick?

Start with small and simple books. If reading the whole book is too difficult, start with short stories or articles rather than longer texts. Then you can choose more complicated books. Understanding the plot of a good book will feel so rewarding.

However, keep in mind that if you start with a book that’s too complicated to read, you might get frustrated as you won’t understand the majority of words. Instead of enjoying reading, this activity will feel like homework that you don’t want to do.

At the same time, don’t keep reading simple stories for children if your goal is to enrich your word-stock. If, for example, your coursework requires you to write papers and essays in a foreign language, you should read more articles related to your field of studies. This way, your vocabulary will grow, and you won’t be in need of a I Cant Write My Essay service.

Another great option would be to read books that you have already read in your native language. By doing so, even if you don’t understand a lot of words and grammatical constructions, you will not be lost in the plot because it’s familiar to you. Neither will you get discouraged from reading the book until the end.

At the same time, you will gradually get used to the text, which is not written in your native language.

Reading in a Foreign Language

Photo, Christin Hume.

Is Reading a Paper Copy Better?

You might be enjoying reading paper books in your mother tongue. However, it might be much more convenient to use electronic devices for books in a foreign language as they have additional, helpful functions.

For example, you can read with a mobile app or an electronic book. These new technology tools are full of features that will help you make progress. You will find integrated dictionaries or the possibility of listening to an audio version in many free apps.

At the same time, you can also study through apps on your smartphone. You can save all of the unknown words as flashcards and learn them later. Also, having tools to translate everything you need at any moment might give you some sort of psychological comfort.

Easy access will remove all doubts, and you can continue reading without getting frustrated. As a result, you will develop a taste for reading in a foreign language.

Reading in a Foreign Language

Photo, Angélica Echeverry.

Tools for Reading in a Foreign Language

Pop-up Dictionaries

Pop-up dictionaries are great for translating words while you are browsing the web. You can add them as extensions. There are some well-made extensions for certain language pairs (for example, Korean-English), but there are also universal tools.

For instance, you can add Google Dictionary if the browser of your preference is Google Chrome. It gives you the definition of the word once you select and double-click on it (you can choose any source language).

Bilingual E-books

Bilingual e-books are a perfect choice for those who only start learning a new language or are not quite sure of themselves. When you read a bilingual book, you get one passage or page of text in a foreign language paired with the same passage or page in your native tongue. These are perfect for reading on your e-reader or phone.

Whatever language you are studying, you will master it if you practice consistently. Reading is a wonderful learning opportunity that feels like leisure rather than a lesson.

It allows real progress in your language level without relying on a school system of lessons that upsets many young people. It is a very effective alternative for making significant progress in languages.