During my summertime, in between University semesters, I often find that sitting down to read a good book is both relaxing and hugely educational. Being a French language student I will always try to read at least one French book each summer; this way my vocabulary list grows, I feel like I have enjoyed myself and I have done something productive!
However, I am often tempted by English translations. I recently read Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Laclos in English, and I did feel a little bit guilty. Even though I really did enjoy the novel, I was constantly thinking of the French version and how much more poetic it would have been in its original language.
Reading in another language can be exciting and also quite frustrating; I always have an emergency dictionary nearby to help me when there are words I simply don’t know. Fortunately, when you read something you’re passionate about, the language barrier soon breaks and you’re simply able to enjoy the book. For example, I had always wanted to read Le Petit Prince when I was in school as I had heard so many great things from my teachers and, although I found it difficult at first, I persevered and finally finished with a better understanding of French and also a huge sense of accomplishment.
Although there were times when I felt like giving up, I knew that reading in a foreign language is a special skill which made me determined to complete my book. Furthermore, foreign language books open a world of new ideas that I had never known before and the beauty of reading is that there are subjects for everyone. Some people may prefer the works of Shakespeare or others may enjoy more modern books, plays or poetry; whatever your preference, I’m certain that there is something for you.
How often do you read books in English? Do you agree with Megan that reading is a good way to learn a language?