Magazine topic: 

Reading in a foreign language

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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? 


Chah's picture
Chah 8 December, 2015 - 01:29

I started to read in English in September thanks to my trainer. The book is entirely in English but some words are underlined and their translations are in the margin so if I need the meaning of the word it's easy otherwise I read and try to grasp the meaning. I think it helps me, especially if the same expression or word is used several times in the book.

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Nadoda_362's picture
Nadoda_362 3 May, 2015 - 08:14

Almost all of my books and novels are in English, and I read all the time!! And of course I agree that reading is a good way to learn a language!!!

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Downton6Abbey6Fan's picture
Downton6Abbey6Fan 14 October, 2014 - 17:42

I just love reading books and last year I also started to read some books in English. First, Ionly read books, I had read in German one time, but I really learned by reading. So I also began to read books, I haven´t read before. Like yesterday, when I started reading "Jane Eyre" by Emily Bronte.

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Guruu's picture
Guruu 10 October, 2014 - 19:10

I didn't use to read many books in English but then I wanted to read the last book from Diary of a wimpy kid series and I didn't want to buy it, so I tried to download it for free but it was available only in english so... I tried to read it in the original version and it was okay, much better than the translation

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 11 October, 2014 - 05:58

Dear Guruu,
I am happy to hear that you could read the book quite well in English, that's great news. However, I do want to remind you that it's illegal to download books for free, unless the author has made the book available as a free download. Do remember that authors make their living from selling their books.  
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens) 

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Harabeli Supersweet's picture
Harabeli Supersweet 5 October, 2014 - 11:04

I love reading books in English. I usually read articles, poetry and fairytales, but I have read even novels as well, like "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. Reading is a wonderful way to learn a language and to improve our vocabulary. We can learn a lot of new words in that language, even without a dictionary, because we can understand the meaning of a specific word by the context. It's better to read a book in the original version than translated, because doesn't matter how good it's translated, it's not the same. Many things are lost in translation.

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