Why is reading in the target language so important?

How many times did your teachers tell you to read in order to enhance different skills in your target language? I can’t answer this question since it is probably a really high number of times but I can swear to you that it is really important and convince you why it is.

Before I started my Erasmus, the only things I read in English and German were texts from newspapers and only because I HAD TO translate them (my studies). I didn’t really enjoy it; I was slow, I looked up every single word in a dictionary and let’s be honest, I wasn’t really interested in the topics. But this all has changed when I arrived in Ireland. I started listening to the BBC news every morning on my phone (aaaah, beloved technology with 4G available everywhere…), I bought a book in English for the flight, I started another blog with all my pictures from Ireland and so on. Without really realising it, being completely immersed in English helped me to enjoy reading. I had to read a book for my EFL class (The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan) and I forced myself to guess words in the context and not to look them up in a dictionary. It was the first whole book I read and enjoyed reading. In the meanwhile, I finished my book bought in August for the flight, I read 4 books in German and I realise it has been such a long time since I read so much in a few months and all that in my both target languages.

Another aspect is that I really improved my skills in English: Vocabulary skills(of course, I checked the meaning of several words), comprehension skills in general, my speediness ,…. Really, it’s such an easy and joyable way to improve your target language! Here are a few tips to help you with starting reading in your target language.

  • As I said before, don’t look every single word in a dictionary. There’s no sense and it’s such a waste of time. What could be worse than writing them down in a notebook and then read them like a vocab list? Nothing. That’s stupid.  Try instead to guess them thanks to the context. My translation teachers always say: ” Put your sense of smell on, sixth sense or intuition, howerer you call it!” Do as if you don’t know the existence of dictionnaries. (Easier said than done, haha)
  • Don’t try to read a whole book in a few days. Of course, you could read Harry Potter in one night because you really wanted to know the story and talk about it with friends. But let’s be reasonable: start with 20 pages a day, it’s enough for your brain to integrate both story and new vocab.
  • If you find yourself desesperate in front of the shelf in the library and you don’t know which book to choose, why don’t you read a book you already know? I’ve been for example to the cinema yesterday and watched the latest Hunger Games movie, now that I know the story, it might be easier for me to read the books in English so that I can concentrate on the written part itself, the structure and vocab. You can also read reviews about a book in order to have an idea about it.
  • If you feel that you’re not really interested in the story, try another book. There’s nothing more boring that reading something you’re not interested in. Feel free to start a new one. In fact, you don’t always have to purchase books, the library is such a great invention and the library at UL has a wide range of books, enjoy being a student, guys!
  • Last tip: I told much about books, but if you enjoy newspapers, it is also a funny way to improve your target language. I also read the news online if the BBC talked about something really interesting and I didn’t get everything, I can spend hours reading on the internet.

 

In the beginning, it’s not always funny but it really becomes once you’re faster and understand the biggest part of a text.  The weekend is approaching, it’s the opportunity to start a new book.

Have a nice weekend! 🙂

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