Hope you’re enjoying our Learning German series with Anna Pastrikos and making most of the carefully curated tips and insights! Having talked about the essential skills of speaking and listening in the previous articles, moving forward, today on the blog Anna will be discussing some useful ways in which you can master your reading skills! Happy learning!
No matter if you are a literature lover or only occasionally pick up a book – when learning a new language: reading is a crucial skill. However, especially reading in a language that is not your own can be tricky. As a lover of books and a learner of foreign languages, I want to give you some tips on how to implement reading in your language learning and your day to day life.
I would like to share with you my top five tips on how to start getting into reading (and I know that the start can be especially challenging) by finding books you truly enjoy, establishing a consistent reading practice, and maintaining this reading practice in your busy life.
#1 Establish a solid base for German reading
If you want to start reading books in German, you have to establish a solid base of your German skills first. Get familiar not only with the German alphabet and basic grammatical rules but also with the pronunciation. By knowing the pronunciation of the words that you are reading, you are training your internal voice and therefore, (although silently) also your speaking skills.
#2 Choose a book that is the appropriate level
In terms of reading German, nothing is more demotivating than choosing a book that is too difficult for your language level. Even if you are very eager at the beginning, soon you will lose all motivation. So the trick is: Choose the right book! This, of course, might be difficult because you are not yet (!) able to read captivating novels or interesting science books.
But here’s the good news: There are also many books that are perfect for beginners – often books that are aimed at native German children. Good children’s books are an easy and fun read that can also be enjoyable for learners of German.
Here are some of my recommendations:
- Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt
- Oh wie schön ist Panama
- Petterson und Findus
#3 Don’t stress about words you don`t know
We often get stressed and demotivated by reading a book in a foreign language because we want to know every word we read. But for a beginner, this is simply not possible. While reading our book we have the dictionary or our phone next to us and we are constantly looking up words. When we reach page 5 we are so fed up with repeatedly googling words that we stop reading altogether.
However, there is no need to do that!
We do not need to know every single word to understand the context. Just read the text and don’t stress over words you do not know, as long as you understand the plot and enjoy reading the story!
#4 Commit to a German reading strategy
Your reading strategy is important depending on what you want to achieve.
If you are reading a text casually for pure enjoyment then don’t get hung up on unknown words or lengthy sentences. As mentioned before, as long as you have a general comprehension of the topic and plot this is fine! However, if you are reading more structured and goal-oriented, careful reading is important.
This approach to reading is needed if you are reading a text for the telc or Goethe test (or any other language test). Then you have to read closely, take notes and understand all details in order to answer specific questions or generally speak about the text in an exam situation.
#5 The road to success – maintain a regular reading practice
No matter what it is, we can only see improvement if we commit to something seriously and do it repeatedly. German is no different! That does not mean that you have to read 10 books a month. However, set yourself some reading goals, such as finishing your book in the next 3 weeks. Try to be consistent with your reading, which means reading a little bit every day. 10 minutes before bed is sufficient.
To be consistent with your reading is it vital that you read books that you truly enjoy. If you dread opening up your book and reading feels like a chore, you will never be able to implement this new routine. So, try to find books that you love and commit yourself to reading them.
So, mastering the skill of German reading is not as hard as you might have thought. Rule number one is that you need to establish a solid base of your German skills before you can read any German book. This does not of course mean that you have to be an German expert, it just means that you need a basic understanding of German grammar and some vocabulary knowledge in place. This leads us straight to my second and third point – choose a book that is appropriate for your level and don’t stress about words you might not know . Only then will you be able to enjoy your reading practice and therefore be able to stick to it.
Tip number four is one of the most important ones – choose your reading strategy depending on your desired outcome. Ask yourself: Am I just reading for fun and enjoyment or am I a goal-oriented reader with a specific outcome in mind? Then – adapt your reading strategy accordingly. But most importantly: no matter if you read for pure enjoyment or with specific goals in mind – consistency is key!
Guest author: My name is Anna Pastrikos – I’m a passionate language teacher and the Founder of the German Academy Zurich. On my blog you can find tips and advice on how to pass the telc and Goethe exam.
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