How do I read a book in a different language?

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rflxvvrbs
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#1
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#1
I'm currently doing AS Spanish and I'd like to apply to a Spanish course at university. I know that for a personal statement it's good to do outside reading but... how can I do that if I don't know enough Spanish? I know this sounds like a really simple question, but is it not really difficult to engage with the plot of a book if you only understand every fifth word or so? Should I buy a Spanish novel and the English translation and read them both together?

The irony is that we studied a novel in Spanish for our exam that we sat last week - in class, our Spanish teacher translated and read it in English and we followed along with our Spanish versions, but I found it really difficult. The exam went really well, but that's only because I watched the movie with subtitles on about three times.
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Anna Schoon
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(Original post by rflxvvrbs)
I'm currently doing AS Spanish and I'd like to apply to a Spanish course at university. I know that for a personal statement it's good to do outside reading but... how can I do that if I don't know enough Spanish? I know this sounds like a really simple question, but is it not really difficult to engage with the plot of a book if you only understand every fifth word or so? Should I buy a Spanish novel and the English translation and read them both together?

The irony is that we studied a novel in Spanish for our exam that we sat last week - in class, our Spanish teacher translated and read it in English and we followed along with our Spanish versions, but I found it really difficult. The exam went really well, but that's only because I watched the movie with subtitles on about three times.
You're right, it is difficult. There are a few things you can do to help you get started:

- Choose a book that's appropriate. So nothing too old - 19th or 20th century is good. But make sure that it is quite "classic" in its writing style - you don't want to have to struggle with loads of 21st century street slang or regional idioms! Your teacher should be able to guide you if you ask for advice.

- When you start reading, for the first 20 pages or so, stop at every unfamiliar word or expression, look it up and make a note of it. You will find that the author "uses up" most of his/her range of vocabulary in the first pages so you'll start coming across the same words as you read on.

- If it is available, get an English translation to help you along. Personally, because I like a challenge, I would suggest reading a chapter in the foreign language first and then read the same chapter in translation to see how you're getting on with understanding. But you can do it the other way round as well, of course. Or you could start reading the English first, for the first few chapters, and then swap over when you've become more familiar with the plot and characters.
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wallflower ~
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#3
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There are books which have spanish on one page and the english translation on the opposite page. That way if you don't understand a word you can always look on the other page.
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Vanilla Cupcake
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#4
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perhaps find a translation of a book you've read before so you kind of have an idea of what's going on? and only stop to look up a word if it comes up often/you can't understand the rest of the sentence without it, as you can often work out a word from context
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smiffylauren77
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#5
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I'm currently reading a book in Spanish, and my skill level is very basic. I have an English translation and I'm reading chapter by chapter by doing Spanish, English, Spanish which I find useful.

The suggestions to write down unfamiliar vocab are good - I managed to boost my speaking grade by using new language I'd learnt through reading. I'd also suggest reading a book you know will interest you, so you don't get bored and give up as there is an extra challenge to reading.
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