My favorite children’s books in German

As I commented in my video 233 days of German, I read many children’s books to help my German. The advantage of children’s books is that they have a simpler language and many illustrations that show what’s going on. My favorite books were from the collection “Wieso? Weshalb? Warum?“. That collection explains to children how the world works in simple language. Storybooks are also interesting, but sometimes vocabulary is not as important for an adult, one reason why I don’t read a lot this kind of book. Nevertheless, I decided to put here a mixture of fiction and non-fiction to please those who like both genders.

livros infantis

Nonfiction Books

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Bestsellers in Brazil – January 2016

For the curious, I will show today, the best-selling books in Brazil from earlier this year, excluding books from foreigners. Interestedly, most books are religious/self-help.

  1. Bela Cozinha 2 – Bela Gil

bela cozinha bela gilThis is a book with recipes from Bela Gil program – dishes from the special summer season and from the second and third seasons. Tasty and healthy recipes are created according to Bela Gil view of how our choices about what we eat affects our health, the society and the environment.


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How to enrich your reading with audio

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?

Igor Barca

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: Continue reading

The Japanese alphabet – Part 2

The first post on the Japanese alphabet introduced some basics of writing. Now, in this second part, we will learn some details.

Modified Hiragana and katakana

The Japanese has three diacritical symbols that change the hiragana or the katakana. The most common among them is the dakuten or ten-ten, that consist in two small lines placed at the top right of the kana, it is similar to the quotes of the Roman alphabet (゛).

Image from:

The handakuten or maru is similar to our degree symbol (゜). It modifies only the kanas “ha”, “hi”, “hu”, “he” and “ho”.

Image from:

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The Japanese alphabet – Part 1

The Japanese alphabet has, in fact, three different types of writing: the katakana, the hiragana and the kanji.

The hiragana consists of 46 syllables and is used on a daily basis to replace the words that are not commonly written with kanji. However, any Japanese word can be written using hiragana. Therefore, this is the first alphabet learned by children and is used in children’s books, since they know fewer kanjis. Hiragana is also used to write particles, endings of verbs and adjectives.

Hiragana table. Image from:

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How to improve listening and reading at the same time – Part 2

Finally the second part of the post

Previously, I showed the most common ways to improve reading and listening at the same time. I’d rather hear natural dialogues than dialogues in language courses.
The way that is most effective for me is to extract the audio and dialogues from movies and TV shows.

First Step

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How to improve reading and listening at the same time – Part 1: Audiobooks and Podcasts

Studying using resources that improve my reading and listening at the same time is my favorite way to learn. You get two skills at the same time and one helps to improve the other. Sometimes you heard a word, you know what it means, but you can’t write. And then, you look this word as you hear in context and this helps to memorize. The reverse is also common, you know a word you’re reading, you know the meaning, but never heard. When you hear it, you discover the correct pronunciation and memorize easier.

Therefore, using this method is ideal since the beginning of learning process, mainly to avoid bad pronunciation vices, which are later difficult to be corrected.

This is one of the main reasons why I like to use Assimil. However, the Assimil course don’t need to be your only resource, as well as reading you can use alternative methods.

In the first part of this post I will talk about two easy ways of finding material; in the second I will explain how I do my own material that helps me a lot. Continue reading

How to improve reading in a foreign language – Part 2: Parallel/Bilingual Texts

Continuing with the subject of last week, let’s talk about how to improve reading.

The graded reader books are great for beginners and people who love literature classics and suspense stories. But, to achieve a high level in any language you need a more diverse vocabulary. To acquire this type of vocabulary while reading, I will present another strategy for someone who hasn’t domain of the language yet. Continue reading

How to improve reading in a foreign language – Part 1: Graded Reader

Before you start reading you should have a minimum vocabulary of 400 words. Which is not something very difficult, with this vocabulary is possible to begin to read simple books. And what you can read with such basic vocabulary?

Graded Readers

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