How Books Can Help You Learn a Foreign Language

So you can count to 10 and ask where the toilets are in another language, but what’s the next step? In language learning, nothing can compare to a conversation with a native speaker, but your love of books can help you on your way! Here are our top tips for using books to learn a language.

1. Read dual-language books

Dual-language books, or parallel texts, are the same story written in two languages. One page will show your native language and the other the language you are learning. With online stores like Amazon and specialist online retailers, it’s easier than ever to find dual-language books on subjects that interest you!

2. Read your favourite childhood book in your new language

If you have fond memories of your childhood library, learning a language is a great excuse to rediscover your favourite stories. Find a copy of your favourite childhood book in your target language. You already know the story, the characters and maybe even some of the lines, so it’s much easier to understand what’s happening.

3. Read new children’s books

Does anyone remember Biff, Chip & Kipper? Children’s books use simpler language and are fun to read. They also have pictures which will help you interpret the story.

4. Read comic books & manga

On the theme of pictures, comic books and manga are the perfect example of visual stories which still have a manageable amount of words to translate. You might even discover a new favourite genre!

5. Make notes

If you’re using a book to learn English, buy a cheap copy you can write in. Adding translations & thoughts into the margins can help you remember phrases and grammar.

6. Read out loud

Finally, if you can’t find a native speaker or a friend who wants to chat to you in your new language, read books aloud! Reading on your own can improve your translation and increase your confidence to speak publically. If you can read aloud to someone else who can correct you when needed, even better!

Remember that you can use these tips for films and television too. Try watching children’s television shows in your new language or turning on subtitles when watching a film online.

The British Council are the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. If you are looking for opportunities to improve your language skills outside the UK, take a look at their website.

This post was adapted from an original piece by Beth posted on the LearnEnglishTeens website.

Head back to the GlobeScotters page for more information about international opportunities.