I would like to share some tips and recommendations for reading your first foreign language novel. Reading in your target language is one of the best ways to familiarise yourself with a language and to learn idioms and phrases. Unfortunately, reading a book in a different language is often seen as a difficult and daunting task, particularly if your teacher chooses a huge and slightly boring novel.
Here are a few tips and some recommendations for easy English reading.
1) Read something that you know: You might have read a book in your own language, or watched a film version of a novel. If you already know the plot and characters, it’s easier to understand what’s happening and avoid getting completely confused.
2) You don’t need to know every word: Don’t get caught up in every word you don’t understand. Looking up every other word in the dictionary takes the fun out of reading even the most amazing of books. Read the whole sentence and maybe the next sentence too, and see if you can get the gist of the meaning. You don’t need to know the definition of every word to understand the plot.
3) Read side-by-side novels: If you are reading something new, try to get a “side-by-side”, parallel text, version of the novel. More common with e-books, these will print a paragraph of the language followed by a translation. It takes commitment to not just read the translation, but if your understanding isn’t great then it saves time looking words up in the dictionary.
4) Don’t be too ambitious: Put down that Shakespearean play! Even some British students struggle with the language written in some of the “classics”, so even though you will seem so clever reading “Hamlet” or “Great Expectations” on the bus, they’ll soon have you running for the hills and never wanting to read another English novel again. Start with more modern books as the language will be easier to understand. Don’t be afraid to try out children’s books to just help you get started.
5) Read something you enjoy! This sounds like common sense, but it’s something that is often ignored. If you like science fiction, read a science fiction novel. If you like girly books, read some chick-lit. You’re more likely to pick up the book if you’re actually interested in the characters!
Here are some recommendations for easy but interesting reads. I’ve read all of these novels and love them all, I've tried to include something for everybody but I’d recommend you give them all a try!
- J.K. Rowling - The Harry Potter Series
- Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
- Stephanie Meyer – Twilight
- Veronica Roth – Divergent
Coming of Age/Chick Lit:
- Sarah Dessen – Just Listen
- Stephen Chbosky – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- Helen Fielding – Bridget Jones’ Diary
- John Green – The Fault in Our Stars
- Jodi Picoult – The Storyteller
- Jodi Picoult – My Sister’s Keeper
- Dan Brown – Inferno
- Dan Brown - Deception Point
- J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith – Cuckoo’s Calling
Have you ever read a novel in English? What are your favourite and least favourite English novels?