A parallel text resource for learning another language is a book or text in which the target language and native language are presented side by side on the same page or screen. The side by side nature of the text makes for a robust learning resource for language learners and can be a good source of comprehensible input.
How To Use Parallel Texts
Parallel texts can be used in a number of ways depending on your level in the language.
Beginning Language Learners
As a beginner, you may want to read a paragraph in your native language first and then move over to read the same paragraph in the target language. By reading the text in your native language first you are essentially priming your mind to understand and make better connections with the target language. The context of what you read will be fresh and allow you to make stronger connections to words and phrases thus creating a good source of the comprehensible input necessary to maximize your learning experience. I continue to encourage learners to avoid reading sentence by sentence. This encourages the mind to do more direct translating rather than allowing the input to get in and do it’s work.
Intermediate Language Learners
Start with paragraph by paragraph and as your command of the language grows, begin to read bigger and bigger chunks at a time. You want to move toward reading whole chapters and then whole books first in the native language and then in the target language.
Advanced Language Learners
As an advanced speaker of a language, you may want to begin to read parallel texts in the target language first and then use the native language section as a resource for paragraphs or expressions that you are not understanding.
Parallel text can be a great way to get started reading target language literature written by native speakers of the language. Novels written by national authors are often times difficult to read because there is so much cultural and historic knowledge, idiomatic expressions, and writing styles that are unfamiliar and difficult to understand for language learners. Finding a famous novelist’s work in a parallel text can be both a great source of language as well as provide tremendous insight into the culture of the people who speak the language.
For vocabulary, you can utilize the layout of a parallel text by highlighting the new word as well as the translation of the word on the same page. This provides a quick reference when reading back through the text. It is important to capture the new words you are learning that you feel are important, so be sure and write them down on a flashcard for later review as well.
Another idea if you are learning a third of fourth language is to find parallel texts in the languages you have and are learning and to forgo your native language all together. This provides input in both languages and could save you some valuable time if you are working to both maintain a language and learn a new one. I’d like to find some Turkish/Spanish parallel texts for this purpose.
Finding Parallel Texts
Commercially produced parallel books and websites are available in the format above with both texts presented in this side by side manner. A Google search using the two languages and the term “parallel text” will lead to a host of resources both free and for sale. So for example, in the search bar you would enter: “Turkish English parallel text” With this search you should be able to find quality resources that you can read from your computer, print off or purchase.
The same parallel text environment can of course be created as well by simply finding a copy of the text in both languages. The easiest resource in the world to find for this is the Bible, but much in popular literature has been translated into most of the major languages of the world. It is not quite as convenient to have two books to flip back and forth between and keeping your place in each may be difficult, but it works fine.
You can as well create your own parallel texts. I recently did this with Sustaining, a short guide written to help language learners create, maintain and protect their motivation, commitment and positive attitude toward the language learning journey. [take a peek] I am excited to have this guide in English, Turkish and soon in Polish and would love to see it translated into as many languages as possible. (If you would like to undertake this project in your native language, please let me know.)
Parallel texts can be a great resource for language learners. In the Internet age they are more available than ever before and so I encourage you to give using a parallel text a try and see what you think.
Where have you been able to find parallel texts?
How have you used parallel texts effectively?
- Sustaining in English
- Sustaining in French
- Sustaining in Spanish
- Sustaining in Turkish
- Sustaining in Polish
- Sustaining English/Turkish Parallel Text
- Sustaining Spanish/English Parallel Text
- Sustaining on Kindle for $ .99
(If you have read Sustaining, would you mind stopping by Amazon and leaving a quick review? Leave a Review)
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