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Online reading resources

February 9, 2012

There are lots of aspects to knowing a language well, and while speaking it is perhaps the most important, that requires having another person to hand who also knows it at least somewhat, and that isn’t always convenient. In the meantime, much enjoyment and skill-building can be got out of some of the other aspects, and as a book lover reading in all my languages is important to me!

Public libraries are a great source of reading material, although most are limited in which languages on what topics they have books in. Do definitely check yours out, however. (Browsing the shelves could be a good way to find local speakers of your desired language, too.)

Online you should be able to find free reading material in any language you so desire, if you know how to look for it. Project Gutenberg is a great source for out-of-print books in a wide variety of languages, and if the one you want isn’t coming through fast enough, consider volunteering over at Distributed Proofreaders. While new English proofreaders are always welcome, the other languages could certainly use more. Particularly check out the list at the bottom for the related sites which specialise in non-English texts. (You should be a reasonably confident reader of the language you’re proofing, or at least know when a particular text is beyond you!)

For shorter more topical texts, consider blog posts and news articles. Those have the advantage of modern language and often contextual pictures and links.

For the actual reading, I’ve just discovered Learning with Texts on the Fluent in 3 Months site, and I’m finding that very useful. Basically you paste in some text you want to read and mark it with the specific language (you tell the site which languages you want to read in beforehand, and it’s easy to add more at any point). You do have to register, but it’s free. There also seem to be some intermittent log-in problems for some users (including me) but they can be got around and are being looked into. I think the easiest thing is just to show you the introductory video from the webite:

The great thing here is that dictionaries are built in, for when you want to use them. Of course, sometimes it’s a good idea just to read a text without worrying about every word, and that’s what I do offline, but I do think both have their place! Have fun with it.

Let’s see, so far I’ve used LWT with French, German and Irish. My Russian isn’t good enough yet, and I just haven’t got around to using it for Hebrew. I could also see it being useful for use while learning technical terms in ones own language.

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