Tips and tricks for reading in a foreign language

Molly shares her tips and tricks to get you reading in English!


Watch the video and use the subtitles and the transcript to help you understand.


Hello and welcome to another video for the British Council’s LearnEnglish Teens website and their YouTube channel. My name is Molly and in today’s video I wanted to share some tips and tricks for reading in a foreign language.

Tip number one is to read children’s books. You might be really keen to read the classics, so, er, Shakespeare or something, but starting with that really isn’t a good way to go. If you’re a beginner, a children’s book is often a much better starting point. They are shorter, they use simple language, they have large font and sometimes they even have pictures. And all of this means that it’s a lot easier to get started with reading. For me, I study Spanish and the first book that I read in Spanish was a translation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, which is a British children’s classic. And that was a really great decision.

Tip number two is to pick a book that you know and love. If you pick a favourite book then you’re already going to be familiar with the plot and the characters and so it’s going to be a less confusing experience. And, you’re also going to save a lot of time because you won’t have to keep looking up all these words in the dictionary. For me, um, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and I recently started reading the series in Spanish, which I’m really enjoying. Also, I have here Ciudades de Papel, which is a Spanish translation of John Green’s book Paper Towns. I’ve read this in English and really enjoyed it, um, and also, another thing to say is that for this and for Harry Potter, and for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I’ve seen the movies, and this is another way to really help yourself because it just adds another level of familiarity to the process.

Tip number three is to read a parallel text book. Now, I don’t know if you all know what that is, but I have one here, which is, um, this is a collection of poems by Federico García Lorca, but books like this have the original text on one side and the translation on the other. So, this one has, um, you probably can’t see it here, but I’ve got the Spanish poem here and the English translation here. And this also really helps because you don’t have to go to a dictionary again because the translation is right there, and you can refer to the translated version as much or as little as you need, er, depending on how good your language is. So, I really do recommend that as well.

And my fourth and final tip for you today is to forget books altogether and read articles. Articles are a really great way to start reading because they’re so short. And also, um, because they’re short, they are so much less of a commitment than a book is. So, they’re really easy to fit into your daily routine or your weekly routine or whatever, and just read a couple of articles when you have a spare bit of time. On the British Council’s LearnEnglish Teens website, for the magazine section, has a whole host of articles, so I’d really recommend going there and checking out some of those as a place to begin.

Thanks very much for watching. I hope you enjoyed it and found these tips useful, and I will see you next time. Bye!


Have you tried reading in English? Do you have any tips to share?

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Submitted by bookishgirl on Thu, 07/28/2022 - 12:02

Hey! I love reading books in English!! I'm B2-C1 and I've been reading books and stories in English since I was A2!! Of course, the A2-B1 ones were graded levels but I can easily say that reading helped me a lot! Now I can read books in fully native English lie from Penguin Publishing etc. And the great thing is: I found 5 words I don't know in my last read!!!!

Submitted by MY403966 on Sun, 01/09/2022 - 03:50

Personally, I think reading a children's book is the easiest and simplest way to start learning other foreign languages. As the sentences and phrases in a children's book is more simple and easy to understand.
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Submitted by Kostantinus on Sun, 03/28/2021 - 08:14

I read acticles in English almost every day. It is really helpful as Molly said. There are a lot of interesting articles on this website. Just use your time for reading. I also watch youtubers what is good for improvement my listening and writing skills.
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