How to stay motivated when you read a book in a foreign language

When you learn a foreign language, it is very useful to read books in that language. This week I wanted to deal with one interesting article written by Arjen de Korte and another by Stephen Krashen. Reading helps to develop language skills unconsciously and without a lot of effort!

  • Read Regularly! Reading 30 min per day helps you to learn new words and new expressions, but also improves reading, comprehension, writing and grammar skills.
  • To begin and keep motivated to read books in foreign languages you should take a book which is at your learning language level. Personally, I also recommend reading a book that you have already read in your mother tongue. For example, the first books I have read in English was the Harry Potter series, because I knew the story and it is written in an accessible way. When reading nothing is worse than spending more time in the dictionary to understand every word than reading the story itself.
  • Do not try to understand every word. You are not a dictionary! Just try to understand the general meaning, and use the dictionary if you really feel lost.
  • Pleasure reading goes hand in hand with language acquisition. Read books in foreign languages that you would read in your mother tongue (comics, short stories, novels, etc.), and never force yourself to read; if you find a section of the book too difficult, or too boring, just skip it !
  • Deal with all the practical problems before you begin your “reading programme”. For example, do you know where you can find books in foreign language without going bankrupt? Is there choice in the local library? Do you know places where you can get second-hand books ? Think of that before you start, because if you cannot read in a foreign languages as much as you want, you may lose motivation.
  • Read the primary sources, pick up the novel rather than reading a selection of excerpts from a course book. Even if a book for language learners contains a lot of excerpts from many novels, these excerpts are sometimes adapted to highlight grammar rules, thus they can be more easily frustrating.
  • Try to find groups who also read books. This is not very difficult because there are plenty of groups which share their passion on social media or on blogs. The interaction aspect is very important because other readers will not only encourage you if you lose motivation, but they also advise you on what to read next.
  • Do a “wish list”: a wish list is a list with all the books you would like to read. This wish-list will be enriched by books you’ve heard of from other passionate people in your reading club, or elsewhere. It is important because you need to read regularly, and thus to get new ideas of books to read.

Use these tips and get reading!

Sources :

  • Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition, Stephen D Krashen
  • Literature and Language Learning, Arjen de Korte

by Florient Georges


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