Learning a new language is never a walk in the park. It requires some doing on your part.
When it comes down to it, the effort you put in is what matters the most, plus everything else you choose as part of your learning process.
A question that I see online often has to do with whether learning a language by reading is a good idea. This post will therefore discuss this in detail… providing context around the topic.
With that said, Is reading books a good way to learn a language?
Reading is an excellent way of learning a language because it provides enough context around meanings, grammar rules and gives you richer language that you wouldn’t otherwise get from learning the language through speaking.
Furthermore, the brain is wired to remember things that you see visually. Therefore visual exposure to words paired with imagination makes the whole process of learning a language possible and effective.
Books are essentially tools that do a better job of conveying language in a non limiting way. People are often under the misconception that they need to speak a language to learn it, while this may have some truth to it… Learning by reading a language is a better way to go about it.
How you can effectively learn a language via reading books
Learning a new language via reading books is no simple task of course, but it is very much doable.
So don’t underestimate the power reading can have on your learning.
Below are some ways you can use books to learn a language.
Read easy books
When just starting out you’ll want to focus your efforts on simple books. The reason being, you’re obviously just getting started and have a lot to learn.
Most people recommend starting with children’s books which are pretty much simple. These books come recommended because the language used is simple and direct which means you won’t have to spend much time decoding large concepts or words.
The simpler the better… for example, if you want to get good at math you obviously start with the simpler stuff.. The fundamental things that are key to your understanding.
You don’t simply jump into algorithms on your first day because you’re obviously not equipped to handle such complex material.
Which brings me back to my point, read simple books before you jump straight into the complex stuff..
Define important words
Learning a language by reading is a process that has to be handled with the most diligence.
You want to make sure you know what you’re reading because this way you can get ahead and navigate through words quickly.
A good technique is getting dictionary definitions of important words that you read from the book.
This is important because you’ll need to understand the context within which words are being used as well as the meanings the author intends to communicate to you.
It’s not only about learning the words but also about understanding them and why they’re used in the manner that they’re used.
So have a dictionary next to you while you read so you understand the language better.
If you don’t have a physical dictionary in the language.
You can easily Google the important words and Google will then give you the dictionary definition.
Book + Translation
You need to be equipped to learn a language therefore you need to have the right tools.
I advise that you have a book of the language you’re trying to learn as well as a translation of the book beside you.
Having the translation present is important because it will help you with cross referencing and decoding language.
Because let’s face it, you’re not just going to buy a book written in Spanish and start to read it if you don’t know the language.
It simply doesn’t work like that. You need to have a translation present as well as a dictionary that will help you decode the language you intend to learn.
Paperback + Audio book
Like we’ve discussed in the previous point, a translation of the book you’re reading is helpful in learning the language.
So let’s take it a step further and bring in the importance of audiobooks.
You can get an audio book version of the book as well to help you hear the language and understand how terms and words are expressed.
Learning a new language is something not simplicitic it takes a lot of effort on your part so make sure you do your best to focus.
One thing you should do is read widely and read different material of the language you wish to learn.
This way you can experience books with varying levels of difficulty. Which gives you wider understanding.
But its always good to mix it up with easy books that won’t make comprehension difficult.
You want to ease into learning the language and not over extend yourself with difficult material.
Wait until you’re well acquainted enough with the language before you tackle any difficult books.
As a beginner all you’re looking for is a strong foundation to make learning possible.
Capitalize on interest
When it comes to reading books every single human being has their preference. Your goal should then be to go for book genres that you actually like.
For example, if you’re into fiction…get a fiction novel in the language you wish to learn. Also find a direct translation of the same book.
Reading what you like will make the experience more appealing and less difficult.
Whenever you’re learning a language you should always focus on your strengths and use them to your advantage.
This way you can learn whilst enjoying yourself unlike going for books you don’t necessarily like or love.
Is reading enough to learn a language?
Let’s face it, learning a new language will seem like a mountain to climb.
With that said its only natural to be curious about whether reading would actually be enough to learn a language or not.
The truth is, reading is enough to learn a language because words expose you to various nuances of grammar.
These nuances are what is necessary to understand how words are constructed in the language and how certain rules apply in the construction process.
However, if you intend to learn and speak the language you’ll obviously have to practice speaking what you have learnt.
Which can be another process on its own, but if you do know the language and can read and comprehend it…. speaking should be something that can be practiced and learnt quickly.
How long does it take to learn a language through reading?
The length with which you can learn a language through reading varies. The least amount of time it can take is 4 months if you read and study the language consistently.
It can take a year or more for people that spend less time reading and studying the language.
Like for those that have to balance a busy lifestyle with learning a new language.
Can you become fluent in language by reading?
Being fluent in any language means having the ability to speak the language effortlessly.
While reading to learn a language may be easily done with some good books. To be fluent you need to speak the language frequent enough for your brain to master it.
Reading can help you know the language but speaking it is different territory.
Keep reading on and i’ll discuss how you can go about learning a language in ways other than reading.
Is easier to learn to read or speak a foreign language?
it is simpler to learn how to read a foreign language because you can control the pace. It’s harder to learn how to speak a foreign language if you havent spent time reading and learning the literal meanings of words and how they are constructed.
Speaking a foreign language is more like cutting a corner to learn a language which usually doesn’t turn out successful.
My advice is to learn both speaking and reading the language. This can help you learn faster and thoroughly.
This is because reading allows you to know the basic operations of a language while speaking allows you to know how to use the language verbatim.
Mixing both processes can certainly improve your odds of learning the language faster.
Other Effective ways to learn and practice a language
Find somebody that speaks the language
One way to effectively learn a language is to surround yourself with people that speak the language you want to learn.
This way you have your own personal tutors that can guide and help you learn the language.
This works best if you also practice and read the language on your own. You can do this by finding books and other material that can help teach you the language.
Relying on people alone to learn a language can be fruitless if its not done the right way.
So learn to read the language but also have people that already know the language and can teach you certain things.
Get on YouTube
YouTube may be an underrated platform but It has one of the largest databases with content.
Simply run a search of the language you want to learn and pick out a result that you deem the most fruitful.
For example, say I want to learn French I can use the following search phrases to get good results:
“learn how to speak french”
“French for beginners”
“how to speak french”
These are just a few of the keywords I’d try out but essentially there are various ways in which you can come up with good search terms that can yield helpful results.
Buy a course online
Investing in an online course can also be a great way to learn a new language. There are a variety of platforms offering these courses for anyone willing to enroll.
A paid course will obviously have some good material that can help you study a language strategically. This can help you see results faster as well as have access to information that you can go back to when you feel you need to revise.
Furthermore, online courses are structured better which means you won’t be jumping around a lot of hoops to learn the language you sign up for.
This saves you time and speeds up the clock on your progress.
Build a language circle
A good social circle of people that know the language you want to learn can be helpful.
Therefore try and interact and a build a circle of friends that speak the language you wish to learn.
Having a language circle of buddies allows you to listen to their conversations and pick up parts of speech, phrases, words which can be really helpful.
Move to the country
This may not be the cheapest option when it comes to learning a language but it’s still something that you can explore.
you can move the country where the language you wish to learn is the native language.
this way, you can be guaranteed encounters with different people from different walks of like that may be more than happy to teach you their language.
So if you can afford the trip, taking a vacation to your favourite language spot can certainly help.
However this is not practical for most people. The fact is, relocating isn’t something you can do in the snap of a finger… which brings me to my next point…
Let’s face it, learning a language can be a hassle and costly if you wish to learn it.
Therefore the cheapest option of all is teaching yourself the language.
I’d advise you to get some good books and get started on your journey to learning the language.
There’s a lot of valuable insight in this post which can help you.