When it comes to learning a language there are tons of ways to improve your skills. My best tip is definitely to read a lot in your target language since it can improve your skills in so many different ways, but I’ll save that for another blog post and stick to the actual topic of this post for now! While I recommend reading about a variety of subjects in a variety of forms, I personally find reading books to be the most helpful and interesting.
However, jumping into reading books in a foreign language isn’t always that easy. Unless you already have some fairly decent skills or a ton of patience (or stubbornness perhaps?), then you will most likely struggle a lot when you first try it out.
I know so many people who have gotten discouraged and filled with frustrations while trying to read books, that they no longer want to even try.
As a book lover I really find it sad whenever people around me fail to find joy in their books, and especially when the struggles are caused by the language and not the book itself.
I read my first book in Korean a little over a year ago and I’m currently working my way through my 7th book, so I thought I would give you guys a few tips on book reading in foreign languages!
- Choose a book that isn’t completely new to you. It can be a book that you have already read, a fairy tale you remember from your childhood or maybe a book version of your favorite movie. This way you will find it a lot easier to fill in the missing gaps – because you will have random gaps here and there. I also don’t recommend reading books that you already know by heart. If you do that then you risk getting bored too fast and you might stop paying attention to the actual book while reading it.
It’s all about balance.
- Choose a book with novels or short stories, or a long book with short chapters. Short chapters gives you the feeling of getting somewhere. If you read 3 pages from a 10 paged chapter then you will feel the progress asap, but if you on the other hand read 3 pages from a 50 paged chapter, then you will feel like you have gotten just about nowhere. You effort remains the same but those 3 pages will feel a lot more valuable in short stories or chapters.
- Look up every unknown word in the first chapter. The first chapter is usually some sort of introduction to the characters and the overall story, which means that all the most important words for that specific book will show up over and over again in the first chapter. If you keep looking them up until you remember them, then you will find it a lot easier to work through the rest of the book. Of course you can look up all the unknown words throughout the entire book,but my personal experiences tells me that this method usually becomes too overwhelming. Personally I prefer looking up all the unknown words during the first chapter, and after that I only look up words if I suddenly find myself feeling lost after reading a full page or of I see a certain word being used again and again.
- Make an actual effort. Don’t keep the book in your bag and only bring it out when you have to wait for someone or when you smartphone battery dies. Make an actual effort to read the book. Decide on an adjustable goal every day and make sure to bring out that book in order to accomplish it- even when you aren’t bored to death!
- Try reading books in both digital and paper format. I have always preferred paper books as I enjoy the feeling of putting in a bookmark and then being able to see how much I have read as well as the feeling of actually turning the pages. Also I used to get really tired from reading digital books and bad headaches were pretty normal too. These days it seems to be getting better, but I definitely still enjoy paper books over digital books. It might make a big difference to you too.
- Try out pretty books. This might sound really stupid, but I personally enjoy books with pretty pictures. Especially drawn or painted pictures. It feels sort of like a check point whenever I get to one of the pictures, and I feel almost just as excited to reach those as I do when I reach a new chapter. I collect the Indigo books and I definitely recommend them if you want to enjoy pretty pictures while reading great stories
I’m currently reading 빨강머리 앤.
I hope you found this post useful! I’ll be back with another post on reading as well as with a short list of recommended beginner/first-time-reading books later this week.