Learning a new language can be an exciting challenge and a life-changing experience, but it can also be intimidating. One of the most effective strategies for mastering a language, however, is reading in the target language.
Reading not only enriches vocabulary and grammar, but also immerses students in the culture and mindset of a language community. According to an analysis by Karen Acosta of Valdosta State University, The Reading Comprehension Strategies of Second Language Learners: A Spanish-English Study, vocabulary plays a fundamental role in the reading comprehension of any student, since without vocabulary, it is not possible to read a text or understand its meaning.
In that analysis, Acosta determined that to be successful readers, second language learners need to know approximately 98% of the words that appear in the materials they read. This means that they need to have and use their vocabulary knowledge to be successful in a second language.
The first step in improving the target language through reading is to choose reading materials appropriate for each student’s level and moving slowly with Input +1 readings. Starting with books, magazines or articles designed specifically for beginners or intermediate learners is highly recommended. As students gain confidence, they can move on to more challenging reading.
There is a wide selection of readings at different levels of difficulty and genres. In addition, setting reading goals is essential to maintaining motivation and progress. Let your students know how many pages or chapters they should read per day or per week; setting realistic goals will help them keep a steady pace and measure their progress over time.
Another very common practice is reading aloud. This technique is also a powerful tool for improving pronunciation and fluency in a foreign language. By reading aloud, students are encouraged to pronounce the words and become familiar with the intonation and rhythm of the language.
Three literary books for learning or practicing a language
In addition to being literary works, these three books are considered ideal for language learning due to their clear and inviting style:
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (French): This timeless fable is an excellent choice for students who want to improve their French. Saint-Exupéry’s simple and moving narrative is a delight for students of all levels.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Spanish): This masterpiece of Latin American literature is perfect for improving students’ Spanish skills. García Márquez’s poetic prose and riveting storytelling will immerse you in a world of magic realism.
Il Nome della Rosa by Umberto Eco (Italian): This historical mystery novel is a captivating choice for learning Italian. Umberto Eco’s rich prose will take you to a medieval monastery full of intrigue and enigmas.
Remember that the choice of book should be tailored to the language proficiency level of your students in order to make it an effective learning experience. Also, consider using additional sources, such as audiobooks or online resources, to help students learn the target language and improve their language skills.
In conclusion, reading is an effective and rewarding strategy that can improve students’ vocabulary and grammar, while opening doors to new cultures, job opportunities, and life experiences. What is the next book you plan to assign your students to read?
By Andreina Ibarra