Before I get into the meat of today’s topic, I want to start with a statement. It is not easy to learn a new language. The only way you can improve your language skills is by putting in time and effort. If you’re sitting there thinking “I don’t have time to learn another language”, well then, you need to make it a priority in your life. If you are an adult and can’t find the time, please re-evaluate some things in your life before continuing on this blog post. I’m serious!
That being said, let’s begin by talking about why languages are important. I am learning English, but I want to learn as many languages and cultures as possible. Learning languages is very important because it helps us to see the world in a different way, but also because it’s fun! Learning a new language and culture is such an exciting experience, you can’t help but feel happy about it. It’s like traveling without having to leave home!
That being said, learning a language takes time and effort. Stay motivated by reading the books below while you are learning your target language. These books are all fiction (or fictionalized), so they aren’t going to help you with grammar or other technical aspects of the language. However, they will help keep your motivation high while learning your target language!
Let me introduce some of my favorite books that I used while studying Spanish in college:
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho – One of my favorite authors ever! This book draws on themes from different cultures around the world without being too culturally specific for people who don’t belong to those cultures or religions. It also talks about the importance of taking risks and following your dreams. It’s a beautiful book, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good read in Spanish or any other language!
Harry Potter (and the Deathly Hallows) – J.K Rowling – This is another highly recommended book that everyone should read at least once. For me, it was my favorite of the Harry Potter series until I read the final book. If you want to learn advanced vocabulary, this would be a great choice because there are quite a few difficult words in J.K Rowling’s writing style! Plus, if you haven’t already seen them all, watching the movies with English subtitles will help reinforce what you’ve learned from reading!
The Alchemist also helps reinforce what you have learned from reading Harry Potter as well! Read these books together and your vocabulary will increase dramatically! Some other books that I would recommend to study with are The Hobbit by Tolkien (or Lord of the Rings), The Godfather by Mario Puzo (written in Italian but translated into many languages), A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R R Martin (Game Of Thrones), Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett (Discworld is set on an imaginary world that has been created inside our own world), or anything else written by Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett.
They are all great authors, and the vocabulary they use is very advanced because they write fantasy. If you’re looking for books to expand your vocabulary, just pick one of those! I would suggest avoiding anything translated from English into your target language, such as Harry Potter in Spanish or The Lord Of The Rings in Spanish. They can be useful for reading practice, but do not expect to see any new words that you have never seen before. After all, Europeans are already familiar with these stories so there’s no need for them to learn new words when the story is already in their native language!
If you’re interested in videos instead of books or if you want something a little different than my book recommendations above (which I don’t blame you for!), here’s a list of some video series that I enjoy:
How To Teach English In Japan – This video series has been made by RocketNews24 and it shows an American teaching English abroad in Japan. It’s pretty funny but they touch on some important points about learning languages as well! There are some grammar tips sprinkled throughout each 10 minute episode too. It also doesn’t hurt that the female main character is beautiful! 😀 If Japanese isn’t what you were thinking about learning though…
Rosetta Stone – This company makes software and apps (as well as physical versions) that teach foreign languages through immersion therapy via games and activities designed specifically for each level. I am taking language study seriously so I will not be using this method. However, it is an effective way to learn a language!
TV5 Monde – This channel broadcasts news from around the world and most of the content is in French or English with subtitles. It’s a great resource for people looking to practice their listening skills, especially if you like current events and news stories! You can find them on YouTube streaming on your computer as well as on Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast…pretty much any device that can play video content. In fact, I will be writing another blog post about how to watch foreign language television in Japan soon because TV5 Monde is currently the only station available! Stay tuned!
BBC Learning English – This site has some great videos that teach you English grammar and vocabulary through repetition via native speakers (who speak very clearly!). It also has some interesting interviews with celebrities talking about their native languages or other interesting topics.
Learning a new language is not easy, but it’s worth it! I don’t know of any adult who regrets learning a new language. So take some time to learn Spanish or any other language you can so you can experience the world in a different way and have fun while doing so!