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Why read in another language?

Why read in another language when you don't even have time to read a book in your own language? The reality is that we are all busy and at the end of the day, picking up a book, especially in another language, isn't generally on the top of your list of ways to relax. I'm guilty of the same thing, I have a book sitting next to my bed that I've been "reading" for months and I still haven't finished it. I read more when I'm on holiday, so often books get left for months and then picked up again during winter or summer holidays, if they're lucky. That said, if you're really trying to bump up your language game, reading is such a good way to learn so much new vocabulary and so many new expressions. So here are some tips to help motivate you to dive into a new book, in English!


Tips for reading in a foreign language

  1. Don't look up every single word: one of the reasons reading in another language is frustrating is that you feel like you need to stop every 2 minutes to look up a word. Try to understand the sense without worrying about understanding absolutely everything. If at the end of the page you still don't quite get what's going on, look up a few key words that you see repeated on the page, but not all of them.

  2. Learn from context: this is connected with tip 1 - try to guess what a word means before you go racing for your dictionary. That's how kids learn, so why shouldn't you be able to do the same?

  3. Choose short stories or comics: if you're just starting out, choose short stories (even children's stories!) that you will be able to finish. If you like comics, I highly recommend reading your favorites in English. You'll be able to understand the context much better because of the pictures.

  4. Read your favorite book/author in English: books are now translated into many languages, so I'm sure you've at some point read a book in your language that was translated from English. So choose one that you like and have already read and find it in English. That way, you're familiar with the story and you can focus more on the language.

  5. Keep a vocabulary list: for those of you who enjoy taking notes, keep a vocabulary list in a notebook or on your phone of the new words and phrases you learn. You can even write down more complex phrases to ask your teacher in your next lesson, after all, that's what we're here for right😉?

  6. Read things you're interested in: seems like a no-brainer, right? If you like to cook, read recipes, or if you like music, read lyrics. If you hate comics, obviously don't try to read one in English because it won't be fun or interesting and you'll give up before you've finished the first page.


So there you have it, some tried and true tips for reading in another language. I still remember the first book I read in Spanish (El amor en los tiempos del colera) and Italian (I Medici), and honestly, I should go back and read them again because I probably understood about 50%, but I finished them and could give you a short summary of the general story. So my last tip for you is this: finish the book you're reading, even if you don't understand everything. Because when you finish a book, you feel satisfied, and maybe even motivated to try again!



  • bump up your [activity] game: to do [activity] better, to move up to the next level

  • look up: phrasal verb for - to search for a word in the dictionary

  • no-brainer: something obvious

  • tried and true: tested

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