Did you know today is #ReadABookDay?
Reading is, in my opinion, the most effective way to reinforce grammatical structures and build your vocabulary. Here are some helpful tips when reading in a foreign language:
- START FAMILIAR. Remember that although we may be adults learning a new language, we are not able to jump into high level literature after a few weeks (or even semesters) of language learning. If you are new to a language, consider starting with a children’s book, or a young adult novel that you know very well already – Harry Potter is always my first recommendation for college students. By reading something you already know well, you take away the pressure of having to understand each and every word. There’s also nothing wrong with reading translations – if you have a favorite author, try to find their works in the foreign language! Come peruse our collection of children’s literature in various languages!
- DO NOT USE A DICTIONARY. It may be disconcerting at first to skip over words you don’t recognize (especially when reading about all those magical beings in Harry Potter’s world), but try instead to understand the main point of the paragraph. Just as with real world interaction, you will not understand everything when you’re speaking to a native speaker, but it’s important to be able to identify the main points and glean context from there; this is a good way to practice that!
- POWER THROUGH the first chapter without stopping. Even if you think you’ve lost your way, keep reading until you reach the end of the chapter. Chances are you’ll have identified the key points and will have gathered enough information and detail to continue on successfully. Before you know it, you’ll be flying through the pages not even realizing that you’re using your deductive reasoning to learn new words and grammatical structures.
- BE PREPARED TO SHOCK YOURSELF. I remember the first time I used an advanced grammatical structure successfully – a structure that I’d studied and misunderstood over and over again. Without realizing it, reading allowed my brain to passively piece together the rules and guidelines for use and it popped out when I least expected it. You’ll be amazed at the grammar and vocabulary you build passively as you read.
If you don’t have time to read, listen to music or podcasts, watch TV and movies, or thumb through foreign language magazines and newspapers. There are so many opportunities to build your proficiency outside of class. If you need help identifying sources, please stop in and see us here in the CILC, we’ll be happy to help you find something that interests you!