Reading in another language is a great activity to acquire more vocabulary, to learn more expressions, to immerse yourself in the target language, plus, you increase your cultural knowledge. But how to boost this activity?
Reading with audio is one of the best ways I found to study a language. The only drawback is that you must be prepared to manage two media: your text and you audio file. But I assure you, nothing better than to hear a native reading while you follow the text.
The association word-pronunciation is strengthened and you begin to realize that you were pronouncing words incorrectly or that one word has more than one pronunciation. Reading and listening to a poem at the same time can be a great way to start applying this technique, since, for the most part, the poem is a short text and contains rhythm and rhymes, elements that facilitate and invite the reader to read aloud. Although a book is (almost) always longer than a poem, you can still follow the reading with a certain ease. Another benefit is that you can retrocede the audio when you want to solve a doubt about pronunciation.
I know it may sound crazy, it looks like you will not be able to concentrate on both at once, but if you try, you will see that is not like that. It’s a matter of habit; adaptation is faster than you think.
This method also works great for when you are unable to focus on a very boring book, required by the university, for example. I can’t tell how many books I’ve read in this way and for that reason: from Shakespeare to Proust, all the books that I considered boring or difficult were read exactly like that. There are some sites that you can use to undertake this task. I’ll show links in five languages:
- In English
On the site LibriVox, you can find books by different authors and in different languages, but the overwhelming majority is available in English. As the works are royalty-free, the authors are classic.
As soon as you enter the page, two options appear: Read and Listen. The first is intended for the members of the site, the angels who took their time to record the reading aloud voluntarily. You can also become one of those angels and start reading books in your language. What do you think of the idea?
If you still don’t want to cooperate, you can access the catalog of books available by clicking the second option: Listen. The catalog works in four categories: author, title, genre and language. You can download the book or listen to it on the site.
- In French
As good as the previous one, but specializes in French, is the site Litterature audio.com. The page has nearly 5000 books in French!
But that does not mean they are limited only to French authors. You can read (and hear) lot more than Proust and Baudelaire: most of the classics of the world literature are available to download. The collection is impressive.
- In Italian
For the students of the Italian language, resources are not so numerous, compared to the previous two languages. But I can name two sites that stood out in my searches:
I know the site Liber Liber from childhood, when I began studying Italian, the site offers free content in the areas of literature and classical music. The collection is well-organized and pretty big.
In the page of the teacher Gaudio, you can find several audio files (and videos) containing literature and Italian grammar classes. It is not very organized, but it’s worth a visit.
- In German
I have two suggestions for German students:
The famous Project Gutenberg, besides the digitized books (pdf, epub, html, etc.), they also have audio books in its collection. Unfortunately, most of its material of this type is in English, but there are some options in German. Use Ctrl + F to search.
Another site, this completely dedicated to German, is the Vorleser.net. The only downside is that free books are mingle with pay ones. So sometimes you will be eagerly for a book and end up running into dollar signs. Just be patient and take advantage of what the site has to offer.
- In Japanese
My experience with the Japanese language is not so big, but I have resumed my studies gradually. Recently, I found this site: Reviewing the Kanji. It has links to the transcript, to the audio and to the bilingual version of the book (parallel text).
Most of the time, the resources are from different backgrounds, but the page is very well-organized, divided by author, with the titles of their works and duration of each one. Very interesting!
You may be thinking, “Okay. I already have access to many resources, but how to truly apply this technique ? “As I said at the beginning, it can be difficult, at first, to manage the two medias. On the computer, nothing is easier: just open two windows, one with audio and one with the text, whatever are their formats (pdf, txt, mp3, ogg …).
Sometimes, however, I want to get out of the front of the computer screen and I prefer to print the text. In this case, where I don’t use the computer, I move the audio to the smart phone and start to read listen to the book lying in a hammock or on the couch, for example. At first, it may be difficult to read and listen at the same time, but after you get used to it, you’ll begin to enjoy the benefits.
What did you think of the tips? Any questions, any suggestions? Leave a comment below with the certainty that it will be answered with great pleasure.
I would like to thank Nathalia for the opportunity to post on Polyglotnerd blog! When I saw the blog, I was delighted with the content and sent a message suggesting an exchange of articles: I would write in her blog and she would write in mine, Missão Poliglota. Thankfully she accepted! =]
Igor Barca is the founder of the blog Missão Poliglota and of the School Estude Idiomas. He is a professor of English, French and Italian. Currently, he is also studying German and Japanese. His mission is to master at least 10 languages.