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10 Tips on How to Use Reading for Language Learning (Mega Post)

Main image for post about reading tips, showing a girl reading in her bed.

Hey, folks! As you might have noticed, I am trying to write one blog article per week. Some might think that this is not enough. But, I prefer quality over quantity. So, this week, I show you 10 essential tips on and techniques how to use reading for language learning!

Internalize the tips on how to use reading for language learning and enhance your language-learning game!

Why Reading Is Crucial for Language Learning

Many among us language learners avoid books when they start to learn a new language. Others incorporate reading into their routine but read only occasionally.

This is a missed opportunity!

Reading is paramount for expanding your vocabulary. Contrary to watching a movie, you are confronted with a text without any visually-supporting elements. As a result, you need to understand unknown words or phrases based on the context. Repeated exposure to words will make them stick. Moreover, you surely know that those who know how to express themselves best are often the ones who read the most!

However, reading does not only improve your vocab. No, no, you also better your grammar! Your spelling becomes steadier, but you also learn various language tenses.

Don’t these benefits sound nice? What if I told you that with the upcoming 10 tips on how to use reading for language learning, you would get twice the result in the same time?

You don’t believe it? Then, read on! I will show you how to get the most out of your books!

#1 Choose the Right Book

A lot of books shown to visualize the first of the 10 tips how to use reading for language learning.

Doesn’t this sound like a cliché? You are undoubtedly aware of the fact that your choice is crucial. However, do you know what the perfect choice looks like?

Answering the following two questions will help you to make a perfect choice!

1. Have I built up a solid fundament of vocabulary and grammar?

The first question forms the basis of your choice. Having a rich vocabulary will allow you to choose more books. This advantage will not exist, however, if you don’t know some grammar yet. Else, you won’t recognize tenses or word roots.

If you are new to a language, then I would recommend rather short books up to around 100 pages. Just google them. You can do the same for intermediate and advanced literature. As you progress and learn more and more words, gradually switch over to longer and more demanding readings.

I always take this approach, and it works wonders!

Reading a couple of short books, in the beginning, is incredibly rewarding and motivating. Reaching a longer and more intricate body of literature is an exceptional indicator of your progress.

2. What genre do I enjoy reading?

This question might be even more important than the previous one. The reason is that doing something you enjoy makes you learn faster. It does not matter whether you read fiction or non-fiction. Do you wish to learn Japanese? Read a manga!

I remember reading Dragon Ball to learn English. I know, I am a nerd. And I love it.

Surrounding yourself with books that you are interested in makes your reading sessions so much more enjoyable and efficient. You will have an easier time to motivate yourself for going through with it!

Now, you just need to order the book you have chosen! Amazon and eBay are my favorite websites to do so.

#2 Read Aloud (Sometimes)

Few people pronounce the words they see aloud. And it is only natural to read in silence. You are a lot faster and can indulge in the silence. By all means, don’t stop reading quietly.

But, additionally, read some pages here and there out loud! Why?

You will not only hear the voices in your mind, but you will listen to the voices with your ears, too. The more diversely you step in contact with a language, the faster you learn it.

Moreover, you will work on your pronunciation because you force yourself to voice what you read. Especially idioms are worth the repetition. You will automatically pass from sentence to sentence more slowly, making you ponder more rigorously about their words!

That being said, it makes sense to read one page aloud and then the next two in silence. In my case, I get a headache if I shout out every word, which is why I use this moderate approach. In the end, do as you please and what you find best!

#3 Don’t Write Down Each Unknown Word

A list of vocabulary shown, alphabetically.

One of my past mistakes. First, I used to take a piece of paper, where I would annotate each and every unknown word I encountered. As you can imagine, this is time-consuming and frustrating. Additionally, you kill everything that makes reading fun!

I have found two better methods to go about it!

1. Per session, write down the unknown words from only one book page

I have used this approach until recently. Per reading session, I wrote down every new word of the first page I read. I did so in Tinycards. Once I had finished the first page, I would go on with the book without making any more notes during this reading session. Later, I would study everything I had written down.

As you can imagine, this approach is a lot less frustrating. However, it does have weaknesses. E.g., you might write down words that are rarely used, while missing those that are more frequent.

2. Mark only one to two words per page

I have found this method to be a lot more effective. In short, you will be reading a book with a text marker ready to be used. As you advance through a book, you are only allowed to mark one to two unknown words per page. Try to mark unfamiliar words that you have encountered several times.

Now comes the cumbersome part. After you have finished your piece of literature, you need to go through it and write down all marked words with their explanations. Let’s say your book has 100 pages. Then, you could learn about 200 new words in a short time.

Put your list into the book, so it will never lose its context. This is important as learning with context has been proven to be more efficient than learning random words by heart. Folks, you will be surprised about the results!

#4 Read Books You Already Know

Book shelf shown with own books.

The fourth of the tips on how to use reading for language learning is fairly obvious. I do ask myself why only a few people think of it. Indeed, I used to commit this mistake. However, this year, I have started to buy some books in French that I have already read in English, German, or Spanish.

If you already know the plot and what is supposed to be happening, guessing the meaning of unknown words becomes a lot easier. I remember, for instance, that I did not know what the Dutch word “toorts” meant. I had read the book in German some years ago and knew what the protagonist was holding in his hands: a torch. This is how I have learned and never forgotten this term.

Furthermore, reading in a foreign language is already laborious as such. Having to think less about what the heck you are reading at the moment allows you to focus more energy on language learning!

#5 Read Books That Have Been Filmed

The reasoning is similar to tip #5. If you have already seen its movie, it will provide you more context and knowledge about what is happening in a scene or chapter of the book. Why should I write more words about this topic, only to make the paragraph longer?

Haven’t I done just that with my last sentence?

Anyway, it is enough for you to know that it helps you tremendously to watch the movie before you read something in a foreign language!

Enjoyment might be the number one factor of all. If you don’t enjoy your reading sessions, then it will not help you to go through the paper form of books or to read books multiple times.”

#6 Read Books Twice (in the Foreign Language)

Who does this? Isn’t that boring, rereading a book?

Yes, if the book is in your mother tongue again, there is no doubt.

But, reading a book in a foreign language once more, can be a great experience. If you have followed tip #3, then you will have a helpful, self-made glossary! It will help you tremendously to understand a lot more the second time around. You will catch a lot more details and better dive into the story.

In case you cannot bring up the motivation to reread the entire book, just read the passages that caused you the most trouble.

The second time around, a lot of vocabulary will manifest itself in your memory. Moreover, don’t forget that at the end of your first lecture, you are already a lot more advanced than before you started reading.

And, who does not love to read Harry Potter again and again?

#7 Establish a Reading Routine

Image showing that your daily routine matters.

All of the tips above are worthless if you don’t establish a reading routine! Beyond that, reading every day has numerous benefits.

According to my experience, doing so every day for 15-45 minutes with the purpose of learning a new language is the real key to success.

How can you find the time for reading? I have written about this before. I found the videos of Renee Amberg extremely helpful to build mine routine. In fact, I try to read 30-45 minutes every day in a foreign language. For me, it was crucial to find the time spot when I would be in a productive state of mind. This moment arrives for me on the train back home from work.

You will need to find your personal moment for grabbing your books. A useful tip is to cut down on your Netflix sessions in the evening. Replace 30 minutes with reading a book! Switching your screen for a book will also benefit your sleeping quality. And if you sleep better, you will better recall what you have learned.

#8 Read From Paper not From the Screen

Paper reading has been found to be more effective than screen reading. One reason is that your brain feels papers to be of higher importance, which deserves more patience and attention!

Indeed, paper readers achieved higher scores on tests regarding the content read than screen readers.

I know some people who prefer eBooks, and I can fully understand their opinion, but I have always preferred the paper form. A book will always feel like some accomplishment to me, which is why I love to keep them on my bookshelf (as trophies).

Of course, you should continue reading on screens from time to time if you prefer this form. Just keep in mind that paper reading has unique benefits!

#9 Listen to the Audio Version of the Book

Harry Potter book and audio version shown to illustrate one of the 10 tips on how to use reading for language learning.

Of course, not every book has an audio version. Many known books do. Fine, but why is listening to the audio version useful?

Because you will enrich your learning practice by yet another facet. One more sense will be stimulated – your hearing! Studies have shown that the stimulation of multiple senses of customers increases brand recall and brand awareness.

Our brain memorizes better if we provide it with content from different angles by tackling more than one sense.

I would recommend listening to the audio version after you have read the book. Then, read along (silently or loudly) as you listen! This way, you will get to know the correct pronunciation. Additionally, you will remember words a lot easier! Especially for demanding book sections, the combination of listening and reading will provide you with a better context.

Seems useful, doesn’t it?

#10 Enjoy Your Reading Sessions

Enjoyment might be the number one factor of all. If you don’t enjoy your reading sessions, then it will not help you to go through the paper form of books or to read books multiple times.

Nevertheless, if you are able to find the joy in employing some of the nine previous tips I gave you, then be wise to apply them! It will not only save you a lot of time, but it will be a rewarding experience for you.

You will see how effective a couple of changes in the way you approach learning can be. So, what is the next step for you, then?

You know it. Get on some eCommerce website. Order a book. Then, start studying!

10 Tips How to Use Reading for Language Learning (Mega Post) – The Awakening of a True Language Blog

In this blog, you will discover a bunch of proven tips on how to crack the language-learning game! It has been some time since my last Mega Post. I hope that you will benefit from the 10 tips on how to use reading for language learning. Share them with other students of languages!

There will be a loooooot more articles coming! 

At the moment, I am actively posting content on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter. Have a look if you just can’t get enough of “Veni. Vidi. Linguas didici!”

Are you asking yourself: “Who is this guy whose words I am reading right now?” You will find some information about me here.

Image showing English book and a laptop.
#13 QuickTip: If you are new to language learning, choose a language that has common roots with your mother tongue. Doing so will help you a lot to master it quickly and build a stronger basis for subsequent languages.

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1 Comment

  • 3steadfastness


    February 17, 2022 at 16:08
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