When I moved to Germany a few years ago, I knew a sacrifice I’d have to make was finding English language books easily. I was half right. There are some pretty big English language sections in my local bookshops, but they’re pretty pricey now so I don’t treat myself to a book as much as I used to. (That hasn’t really stopped me buying them at all, though.)
I had an epiphany a couple of months ago. If I want to improve my German, which I’ve been trying to do, it’s about time I incorporate it into my daily life a little more. What easier way to do it than try to read a book in German? I knew exactly which book was going to help me on my journey.
I have read Harry Potter and the Philsopher’s Stone more times than I care to count. I can probably recite the first chapter in my sleep, never mind the first line. As I knew it so well, it was the perfect candidate to start with. I wouldn’t have to worry about translating too much, and I could enjoy the story as a whole while learning some new words and phrases.
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"If you want something you've never had, you must do something you've never done." ~ I've been learning German since I was 13, but I've only been intensely living and speaking it for the last two years. I have enough to get by, but now it's definitely time to get a boost. ~ I've heard reading a book in your target language is a really good way to improve. So, I'm hoping it will be a good way for me to improve my German. ~ #German #Germany #HarryPotter #harrypotterunddersteinderweisen #throwbackbooks #booknerd #bookstagram #irishbookstas #bookbloggers #readersofinstagram #readersofinsta #deutsch #deutschland #deutschlernen #languagelearning #languagelearner #germanlearners #bibliophile #bookish
I did surprisingly well. It did take a little longer than usual to read – maybe a day or two extra overall. But I did still grasp most of the concept (of course) and didn’t stumble too much over the grammar and the langauge.
So, in my very limited experience of reading in my non-native language, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that might be of help to you if you ever decide to try, too.
Read a book you’re already familiar with
This is not the time to branch out and try a new genre. When you’re just getting to grips with a new language, in terms of reading it’s best to go with what you know. Whether you go for a book you’ve read hundreds of times, or one of your favourite books as a child, you should definitely re-read a book you know almost back to front. This way, you won’t be too worried about the storyline and can concentrate on just learning some new words.
Don’t translate every word
If there’s a word halfway through a sentence stumping you, don’t grab your dictionary immediately. Instead, keep a list chapter by chapter of words you haven’t understood, and go back over it when you finish the chapter. By the end of the book, you have a tailor made phrase book to dip into.
Don’t stress out if you don’t understand every word
If you’re a learner, there will be words that confuse you every now and then. It’s totally normal. Often, you can make the word out anyway based on the context of the sentence, but don’t panic if not.
Choose a book that matches your language level
We all love a classic, of course, but they’re quite wordy. Not only that, but the language can be a little flowery and archaic. It’s best to look for a more contemporary novel when you’re reading in your second language. It’ll be huge help in picking up the nuances of the language as it’s spoken at present.