Learn Languages by Reading: 10 Proven Reasons Why Reading Is One Of The Best Ways to Learn a Language
Reading is one of the best ways to learn and improve a foreign language. Ten reasons why this is the case:
Motivation is a key factor when learning a new language. Reading a book will give you pleasure: pleasure will boost your motivation and confidence.
Which books to read? The answer is: read whatever you are passionate about. You do not need to start with classics (maybe you will get there soon and naturally when your level will improve): choose something to read that you are interested about. You can even start from comic books, graphic novels, or children’s books.
Read what you are passionate about!
When reading, you are entertained: you are lost in the plot and you forget that you are studying.
This is called the rule of forgetting: forget that you are learning and you will learn the language naturally (Krashen, 1983).
Memories that last longer are the ones connected with positive feelings. We retain information better when we do not feel anxious about performing for a language test, or we worry about an assignment.
While you are reading a book, you are lost in the plot. You follow the character’s thoughts and actions, you live with them, and forget the reasons why you started reading a book in a foreign language.
Having fun while learning a language!
3. YOUR RHYTHM
Everyone has their own ways of learning and memorising new words. Everyone has their own rhythm. When you read on your own, you do it on your terms, at your speed, pace and level.
A teacher can guide you and assist you in making sure that you understand because of cultural references, idioms, expressions and grammar reviews. When you are reading, YOU decide your rhythm.
Language and culture are interconnected. Literature is one of the topmost cultural expressions of a society. Reading helps to understand cultures and overcome stereotypes. You wouldn’t understand more deeply what Italians feel, think, and how they behave, without diving into their own visions, dreams and images through literature.
This is what Jhumpa Lahiri, an American writer who learned Italian and moved to Italy, has to say about reading a country’s literature in a targeted language:
I would say it is the only way to truly understand a country. In literature you enter into the hearts and souls of people in ways no other art form allows.
(You can read the full article here).
By reading authentic material, you discover how people actually think.
Reading allows you to memorise new vocabulary easily: you will understand the meaning in context and reuse the words when you need them.
When learning a new language, the first challenge we encounter is finding the right words at the right moment. You may know the grammar, but you are not be able to speak and express yourself because of a lack of words.
Reading allows you to understand the meaning of words in context, memorise new words, sentences and grammar constructions, collocations, and verbs more easily because you read them in a meaningful context. You do not memorise new words by reading a list of words or reading meaningless sentences from a textbook.
Moreover, memory works better with repetition. By reading a word over and over again, it will be easy for you to reinforce that word and reuse it naturally. Reading books, you are exposed to a larger number of different nuances, registers, synonyms that are difficult to come across, other than in authentic reading material.