It is possible to learn a language and move to fluency fast by reading specific books in a specific way. Even if you are only just starting learning a language, certain books have an advantage, you don’t need to understand the words in the book, this is the trick. What you need to learn a language is massive exposure to thousands of words in the right context, because your brain is designed to store and make sense of these words.
No matter if you want to learn German, French, Japanese, Arabic, are studying the Spanish language, or learning English as a second language, one of the best is with books. You can really move rapidly from a low level (basic exposure to the language) through to fluency with reading. From my experience, there are certain books which will massively speed your language study. If you haven’t read my article You Too Can Study and Learn Languages Much Faster, check it out, now below is the part about how you choose which book is best to read if you want to learn a language.
How to choose which book to learn a language
Which book you choose is important. You need a book that is at the right level and that you can get into. I have listed some good books to learn a language at the end of this article.
Look for –
- Relatively simple language used- Assuming you are over 16, you want a book aimed at teenagers.
- A book with an exciting story – This is essential to keep you engaged.
- One of a series is really good (not essential though) because if you like the first, you can go on with the next and it will be easier for you.
- Translated from your mother tongue into the language of study – Books which have been translated from your first language will be easier for you to understand. It can make a significant difference for learning a new language.
- A book you enjoyed as a child – This will help you keep the plot.
- Popular classics for all ages are a good start because there is a good chance of all of the above.
- Note, it is not important that you understand every word, you only need to understand about 5-10% of the words.
What level should I be to learn a language this way?
If you understand 5-10% of the words in the book, that will be fine. You should have a basic idea how the words are pronounced, ie you should be able to read it aloud without understanding it, but roughly get the pronunciation good enough.
How to read the foreign language book for learning a language the fastest.
So you have your book (if not, see below), now is the leap of faith.
- This takes a leap of faith, but just read it without stopping as fast as you can.
- Don’t concern yourself with comprehension at first, just read the words knowing that babies don’t understand the world until they have massive exposure.
- If you feel tired after a few minutes initially, that’s fine, put it down and do another page in an hour. A really good habit would be 10-20 minutes morning and evening.
- Make sure you have a second mode of learning to boost your pronunciation (see below). Dictionaries are not worth it because they are too slow.
Remember – Just read – Let your new language fall into place. You will only need 2-4 books. If you are in a course right now, then this is perfect. Read, read, read and you will soon become top of the class.
What additional support do I need?
Exposure is the most important when learning a language, but just as children learn, you need multiple modes. A second mode of language support helps on the spoken side and pronunciation. Try any of the following:
- Amazon Instant Video is really good, go to the page, then search for the language you are learning (eg spanish)
- Regular language classes are the most common way, but to be honest, I find the best thing about these are that it keeps you focused. Unfortunately too many teachers think grammar is important, whereas for most people what they want is fluency and communication skills.
- Audio language programs like Rosetta stone or again on Amazon are good
- Language software is also good as it can quickly make the links to increase vocabulary.
- Language apps (like on the Apple store) are really good too.
- Radio programs – again, just exposure, just listen actively and let it sink in.
Where to find a books for learning a language
Because books that fit into the selection criteria above are quite popular, you should have no difficulty finding them. Try the following:
- Local Library
- Friends or teachers
- Second hand shops
- Ask your teacher
Recommended books to learn a foreign language
Check my post on Easy Reading – Classic Books For Good Reading Skills or Books for Boys. If you want to find them online, go to Amazon.com, click on the book you like then copy the title into the search box and add the language you want to learn at the end. Many of them will come up in your new language.
As one suggestion, you almost can’t go past Harry Potter. It was written specifically to encourage reading, and is translated into lots of languages. It’s long (lots of words), it’s a series (more words) and has a good story that carries the reader.
It is easy to find on amazon (yes, as a big reader, I love amazon), just go to Amazon.com and type in “Harry Potter Spanish“, “Harry Potter French“, etc
Here are the French / Spanish/ German / Arabic translations
Remember that learning a language is a big task. It won’t happen overnight, in my experience, 3 months is the minimum if you are in the country where it is spoken. Whichever way you learn, you need to persevere and be realistic. Immersion (ie living in the country) is the best way to learn a language, but this book method is second fastest.