Lesson Transcript

Reading in a foreign language is great. But a big challenge related to reading is that you often need a high level of fluency before it gets really fun. And if a book isn’t fun, then you’re not going to want to read it.
The entire point of sitting down with a book is to enjoy it and have a good time being absorbed in the story or learning the information. And that’s just not going to happen if you need to look up every second word. It will take you out of the story and it will feel like a chore; like an assignment from school, where you have to read the book for a class. But there is a resource that you might not know about that can really help your reading skills: bilingual books.
In this video, we'll look at: How to Supercharge Your Vocabulary With Bilingual Reading
This is a simple solution that will make reading (especially at the beginner levels) easier and fun. These are books that have your target language on the left page, and your native language on the right. But how do you use it?
Well, it’s all in the name. You read a book in 2 languages at once. The language that you’re learning plus the language that you’re fluent in. There are a few different formats for bilingual books, but the most common one is the one mentioned previously. You have a book that has your foreign language on one side, and your native language on the other.
It is also possible to find stories that are presented bilingually paragraph by paragraph. The principle is the same, but the information is just in more bite-sized chunks, so your eyes need to travel less to read both texts.
The great thing about bilingual reading is that you can quickly switch between languages. And the translation is presented to you, so you don't need to try to distinguish between the 10 variants of a word that your dictionary offers. Which brings us to the main advantage…
bilingual reading is great for building your initial vocabulary
When you first try reading in a new language, you will probably find that you need a relatively high level of fluency before you can make a strong connection with the words on the page. Reading is a lot of fun if you already know about 80% of words, as you can guess the meaning of another 15% from context, and then look up the remaining few words you do not understand.
But if you’re starting out, you might know only 10% of the words! That’s where bilingual reading can help a lot.
Here's a way to use a bilingual book: Read a sentence first in your target language. See if you understand it. If you do, think about the meaning of some of the key words. Then, quickly glance on the other side of the page and check the translation. This way you’ll be able to have fun reading and learn contextual vocabulary at the same time.
Let's look at why it works well if you’re learning a language at home
If you’re taking language classes, then your teacher sometimes supports you in a similar way to the translated page. When you’re reading a text with your teacher, you can ask them questions whenever you do not understand something. They’ll give you a translation quickly and can share other ways in which a word can be used.
But if you’re learning from home, you don’t have that advantage. Bilingual reading offers the same benefits, as you can quickly check the translation of a sentence and see what each word means.
The main goal of bilingual books is to bridge the gap between the beginner and intermediate to more advanced levels. They can help set you up to read real books, without any translations. Some language purists might recommend you read only stories that were originally written in your target language, but any book you enjoy is best to encourage your studies. Use bilingual reading to improve your vocabulary and reading comprehension skills -- until you get so good that you don’t need it anymore.
It doesn't matter what language you are learning. Bilingual reading works for every language.
The principles of language learning don’t change. Only the implementation does. You also don’t really need too much knowledge at the start. If you like a real challenge, then you could even start reading some simple bilingual stories without any prior experience in a language!
However, just as with other language programs and courses, the more people who speak a specific language, the easier it will be to find bilingual books.
Bilingual reading can be a great addition to your normal study routine and it can give you an idea of where you are in your studies and what goals to consider. But for even more ways to learn a new language, check out our complete language learning program. Sign up for your free lifetime account by clicking on the link in the description. Get tons of resources to have you speaking in your target language. And if you enjoyed these tips, hit the "like" button, share the video with anyone who's trying to learn a new language, and subscribe to our channel. We release new videos every week! I'll see you next time. Bye!