10 easy steps to help you read in a foreign language

10 easy steps to help you read in a foreign language

Do you aspire to be an avid reader? Do you want to read a book in a foreign language and get into the habit of reading? If you answered yes to both the questions then you should keep scrolling down. Reading includes exploring different horizons that you would want to find out about things and ideas that you otherwise are alien to.


Reading in a new language could be quite a task and might seem intimidating at first. However, if you know the right tips and tricks, it will help you read better like a pro. As someone who has taken on the task of reading in a foreign language, you should make ‘patience’ your new best friend before anything else.

We have listed down 10 important points to help you read in a second language without too much hassle:

1- Learn simpler words in the beginning:

You do not have to start reading complete books in a foreign language. That would be too idealistic and not result in any positive outcomes. Initially, to understand the language better and know the pronunciations, you have to start by learning one-words in the language which is easier to remember and make more sense than complete long sentences. You can also refer to children’s storybooks at the start which often comes with pictures that will even help you understand gestures and what is going on in the scene particularly. Take baby steps wherever needed and you are sure to achieve your goal. Simpler words will help you develop the vocabulary faster than usual.

You can learn the words by adding them to Sylingo website and study them with the quizzes on the site and listen to the pronunciation at the same time you study them.

2- Reading in a foreign language is different than reading in your mother tongue:

When we say develop a habit of reading, what we really mean is to get familiar with text from the new language that you are so keen on learning. You might be able to read many books in your mother language or any other language that you have command. However, we would like to break it to you that reading in a foreign language could be quite a task if your basics are not strong and you are not taking help from the right kind of tools and books.

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3- Get into the habit of frequent reading:

Reading is a habit that you should develop quite early on in life but, if you still have not, now is your chance.

When getting on the bandwagon of learning a new language, reading the literature that already exists should be something you should become keen on. If you are an extensive reader already i.e. you read a lot to take a break from the routine life or you just like exploring different topics then you should not really struggle when it comes to learning or reading in a foreign language.

Here is a list of things to keep in mind when getting into the habit of reading in a foreign language:

  • When you start reading a book, always make sure that you are highlighting the new and difficult words that you have not read before and added them to Sylingo to study them and listen to their pronunciation or you could write them in your notebook with their translation.
  • Do not worry about understanding the meanings of each word.
  • If you feel you did not completely understand anything that was said in the chapter or that particular paragraph, re-read.
  • Re-read again to be able to get familiar with the words and the new phrases in the book.
  • At some point, you should be able to understand the main theme or the central idea of the book.
  • When you do start to understand what the writer is saying, that is your go-head to move forward.
  • Do not leave the book in the middle even if you feel you do not understand anything.

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4- Realize that this is not an easy task:

You might be tempted to try reading poetry or other philosophical books in a foreign language. However, it is important for you to realize that this is not an easy task because the language is quite different from your mother language that you have grown up learning and listening to by default, unlike this new language which will certainly require time and effort for you to grasp on it. The new language obviously comes with a set of new vocabulary that you will have to get familiar with and give yourself enough time to get a sense of. This, by no means, should give you the impression that you should let go or quit easily!

5- Set a time to get into the habit of reading:

To get into the habit of reading, you need to first set a particular time of day for this activity that you would want to take up. You can take out either 5-10 minutes or an hour if you like. There would come a time in which you would want to read up more than usual and some days you would want to not open the book at all. One example in this regard is to make it a habit to read during breakfast and lunch. You can also read every time you are sitting on the couch or when you are about to go to bed. You now have four different times during a day when you can read for 10 minutes each if you like. If you ask for our advice, we would say that it is a great start and would be an excellent daily reading habit but, there is certainly more you can do to enhance the routine.

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6- Always carry a book everywhere or use an audio-book app:

Wherever you go, take a book with you. Yes, it is as simple as that. When you leave the house, you always make sure that you have a driver’s license, your keys, and other important things. Add a book to the list of things you always carry when you go out so that you never miss a chance of reading it when you have some spare time at your disposal. The book can stay with you in the car; you can take it into the office and to other appointments. Basically, pretty much everywhere you go, unless you know you definitely won’t be reading like somewhere at a movie. If there is a time when you have to wait, for instance at a doctor’s office, simply whip out your book and read.
You can also use an audio-book app such as Audible, Audiobooks.

7- Make a list of all the books you would want to read:

Keep a list of all the great books you want to read before you turn 30 or 50. You can keep this in your journal or in a pocket notebook. Pin this up on your personal home page or on your to-do list. There are so many things that you can do! All you need is some self-motivation and you are good to go.
Be sure to keep adding to the list whenever you hear about a good book, online, or in person. Keep a running list and cross out the ones you have read. This could also be a good motivation exercise to keep you in the habit of reading.
How cool is this trick to help you keep track of your reading list and all the books that you would want to read or have already read?

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8- Enjoy what you are reading:

Reading is a habit that is best learned when enjoyed throughout the process. Now, read that again and remind yourself each time you start losing interest in the new language you have started learning. Never leave a book halfway through. This is one important lesson to keep in mind when you start reading something which is specifically of not so much interest to you; in this case, it is obviously the foreign language and the literature that comes with it. Early on in the reading exercise, you need to find out what types of books do you actually enjoy reading so that you may really have fun while reading them.

9- Take charge:

When you actually get into the habit of reading, the next thing to do is to take charge and be your own savior. There would be times when you might feel that the new language is getting on your nerves and you would want to call it quits. However, do not give in to the temptation and lose hope. This is your chance to excel at something new and stand out. Make the most of it. This is a battle that you have taken on for yourself without anyone asking you to do anything. You have to face this new challenge of learning a foreign language for yourself, if not for anyone else.

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10- Do not be tempted to reach out for the dictionary a lot:

It is a trap! Yes, you read that correctly. It is only natural that when you come across a new word, you would want to find out what it means. The only problem with that, however, is that when you do not know the language you can never be sure as to what the actual meaning of the word is and in what context it is being used in the text that you are reading. One word can have many different meanings, even if you say it in your mother tongue. You can test it for yourself. Reaching out for the dictionary a lot is only going to confuse you more and add to the misery.
If you keep referring to the dictionary each time you come across a new word, you would keep getting confused and it will only get frustrating. The dictionary should only be used as a resource and not as a one-book solution for all the troubles that you might be facing whenever and wherever you get stuck with the new language that you are learning.

To save you the trouble of going through the dictionary each time and help you with the issue at hand, here are some points:

  • Read the word and try to recall all the places you have read it in.
  • When you do this mind exercise, also try to recall all the different circumstances in which the word was used and how it was phrased in the text.
  • You have to keep making notes as you keep recalling so that you do not miss out on anything.
  • Usually, the meaning of a word changes in the grammatical context in which it is being used.
  • A noun could mean the complete opposite of what it means when used as a verb.
  • It is ok to get confused with different grammatical references because the foreign language is not your first language.
  • There is no need to get frustrated or lose hope.
  • Carry on reading until you get a sense of the sentence structure of the new language that you are learning.
  • Get on to taking notes of the other new word instead of that one word that you won’t get over.

So, are you ready to take on the challenge of reading in a foreign language? Which new book are you going to start reading? Let us know in the comments below.

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