One of the challenges many language learners face is in finding quality reading material in the target language. Outside of languages found in your geographical region, finding translated and even original literature in the target language can be a difficult proposition. Reading is a vital part of a personal language learning program but if you cannot find quality reading material, it is difficult to take advantage of this great resource. In order to make your quest for finding more great resources easier, I have researched and now present 9 ideas to help you find your way.
Wikipedia: Wikipedia is a great place to start finding the written word in the target language. 282 languages are represented on Wikipedia! Amazing and you can generally find something written about a topic that interests you. Start at the List of Wikipedias, find your language and begin reading. [Post Addition: Wikibooks. Our first commentor suggested Wikibooks as another great source of content. Available languages are found on the left sidebar. Check it out!]
Online Newspapers: There are newspapers written in most languages of the world. If you use Google Translate (or your favorite online dictionary) you can get the translation for Turkish newspaper or Urdu newspaper or whichever language you wish to learn. Enter the translation into a regular Google search and you should find a host of online papers in the target language.
Many Books: Home to 36 languages, Many Books is distributor of free ebooks – mostly the classics and older works. Some of the books in the language section are written by native authors, others are translated works. Great selection and a load of download options – from Kindle to iPub to PDF. (over 20 different options)
Google Translate: I mentioned this earlier, but Google Translate is a great way to get in the door so to speak. It can allow you to search and find websites, blogs, online magazines, free ebooks and much more for your reading pleasure. If I loved fishing and was wanting to learn French I could get the French translation for “fishing books”, “fishing magazine”, “fishing blogs” and much more and begin my search in this way. Get creative. Try new and different combinations and have fun.
Amazon: Amazon is the clearing house of clearing houses for finding books in general. Finding books in another language on the other hand can be quite the challenge. If you just type in Spanish for example, you mostly find reference books. Here are a few tricks to help you find what you are looking for.
- Search in Foreign Language Books. This category was nearly impossible to find in the advanced search option, but once I did I found a list of languages in the left side bar. The most popular languages are listed and if you click on the ‘More Languages’ button it will show you a ton more. When you chose your language, make sure and look back at the left side bar where you will find more search options including things like Author, Format, Series (Star Trek, Little Women, Harry Potter, etc), Promotions and Availability.
- For a regular search, add the word ‘story’ or ‘comic’ to the language. (Spanish comic, Italian story, French novel)
- Find parallel text by searching for ‘Spanish parallel text’ or ‘Spanish-English story’
- Once you have found some books, use the ‘Format’ search on the left side bar to find audio editions, Kindle editions or even PDF versions.
Expats: Expats are people who have moved abroad and are living in the country of the language you are learning. Most countries have online forums where all the expats can connect, share information, sell their junk and generally hang out. It is not uncommon here in Turkey to see regular posts asking for someone to bring something from the states or for someone to carry a letter or something back. These forums could be a great place to first and foremost foster relationships with other language learners. But they can also be a great resource for learning material. Posting that you are looking for someone to pick up some comic books, dvd’s, literature or magazines and bring them back to your home country is an easy way to get a hold of reading material. It may not be as timely as Amazon, but learners on the ground will have a good handle on available resources. You will of course need to compensate your new friend for their efforts. Here are a few of places to look for expats I know of: Expat Blog, Expat Forum, Tonguetide, Expat Focus.
LingQ: LingQ is a site based on reading that allows you to mark and create flash cards for new words as you come across them. There are just 11 languages represented though they are quickly adding new languages so if the language you wish to learn is one of these, stop by and give it a try.
The Bible: The Bible is the most translated book in the world and is fairly easy to get a hold of. If you just Google search any language with the word Bible you can probably find it online to read or download or find information about where you can get a hard copy.
The EDLL Language Specific Resource Page: This is a work in progress, but I desire to make a great resource where you can find a ton of material in the language you wish to learn. I would greatly appreciate your help in expanding this page and so when you come across amazing resources, please send me a link and tell me a bit about the site. I’ll get it added to the language you are learning. I need your help!
Those are a few of the ideas I have for finding reading material in the target language you are learning. I probably missed a few obvious places to find resources and so trust that you will tell us what they are in the comments below.
As well, please do share your favorite language specific tips, ideas and websites for finding quality reading material.
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