A list of 13 embarrassing (and captivating) things you can read to take your language to next level

Share the knowledge!
528
Share the knowledge!
528

You know it, I know it, pretty much everybody knows it.

You should try reading more in your target language.

But it’s hard. It’s hard to force yourself to sit down and to do it. And that’s why 99% of articles suggest that you should read something which is interesting to you. And it’s a really great piece of advice. Seemingly, I mean.

 

Why? Because sometimes, even if you’re at an intermediate level, pure interest is not enough to pull you through an article. I love neuropsychology, physics and statistics.

But reading about it with my bad French would be as fun as sticking needles in my back and pretending that I’m a hedgehog. So no, that’s not the way I start reading.

 

So how do I do it?

 

Well, the article’s title probably gives aways a little bit about what I read. I start with things which I consider a huge waste of time. BUT only in the languages I’m fluent in.

That’s why I prey on my most primitive instincts to keep myself focused on reading. I hope that this list will help with your studies. And please don’t judge me, I’m just a man!

1. COMIC BOOKS

 

Let’s be clear about one thing – I don’t consider comic books to be a waste of time! So go ahead, unleash your inner child!

Usually, the story line and pictures make it a breeze toΒ  finish reading and keep you coming back for more! Here’s the website with free comic books in 9 languages (including English): Comicbookplus.com

 

2. BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

 

Because who doesn’t like dragons and fluffy stuff? The biggest website with free children books is : ChildrensLibrary.org

They have books in thousands of languages! Well, not really, but definitely in over 30 languages ! And here’s the website with picture books: ChildrenBooksForever.com

 

3. SONG LYRICS

 

One of my favorite ways to learn. Emotions and melody create a powerful mix which makes reading really enjoyable. What’s more, lyrics are usually short so they don’t require a lot of attention.

Simply choose a band singing in your target language and google the title of the song + lyrics / text. It works for most of the languages. Of course for the languages which are more exotic you might want to check the translation of “lyrics”.

 

4. COMMENTS

 

Most of the time I choose to read comments on Reddit, YouTube and below some interesting articles elsewhere. Usually they are either quite witty or interesting which makes them really appealing.

 

5. GOSSIP

 

I personally hate any kind of gossip. It sucks time and energy right out of your life. But you can’t deny that as people, we’re generally nosy. That’s why I try to use this vice to my advantage and read gossip-related online magazines.

To find such websites try to google : “news about celebrities” or any word combination of that kind.

 

6. EROTIC STORIES

 

There. I said it! And I’m not going to explain you why. You KNOW why. Google “erotic stories” in your target language. Nobody needs (and wants) to know…!

 

7. HARLEQUINS

 

Or any books of that kind. One of the guilty pleasures of women!

I’ve never tried to find such a thing but you can probably find a lot of such books and stories by googling “broken heart”, “mysterious lover”, etc. But hey! What do I know?

 

8. TWEETS

 

Just like comments they are brief and (at least) try to be either funny or informative. Use Twitter Top 100 Most Followed website: http://twittercounter.com

Then click “Global Top 100” and choose the country of your interest.

9. WEBSITES LIKE 9GaG.com

 

If you have never heard of http://9gag.com/ Β I want you to know that I don’t believe you!

I had been battling my addiction to this website for a long time before I had won! But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy such websites in other languages!

All the memes and cat pictures guarantee to keep you mesmerized and basically allow you to absorb all the phrases and words effortlessly.

The similar websites for languages other than English include:

 

10. GRUESOME STORIES

 

It’s not for everyone but I really enjoy them. Google “scary stories” in your target language.

Or start with this thread on Reddit “What’s the creepiest Wikipedia article you’ve ever read?” and change the language on Wikipedia to the one of your interest.

 

11. CONFESSIONS

 

Reading confessions online is probably a modern counterpart of going through somebody’s diary. To get you started, try to google the following phrases in your target language:

 

  • what’s the worst thing you have done
  • what ‘s the strangest thing you did in bed
  • what’s the stupidest thing you have ever done
  • what’s the most embarassing …
  • my boyfriend / girlfriend cheated on me

 

12. COMPLAINING

 

In Poland it’s almost a national tradition to complain about everything so I might be a little bit biased. Try to google the following phrases in your target language:

  • a list of the worst …
  • why I hate …
  • the worst …

 

13. SILLY WEBSITES / FORUMS

 

Take your pick – anything from conspiracy theories forums to camel spotting fan-clubs. The possible side effect of such reading exercises is coming to the conclusion that the human race is doomed.

 

 

What embarrassing things do you read which help you to stay focused? Let me know so I can create the ultimate “shameless reading list”!

21 comments

  • Advice on how to pick-up girls πŸ™‚

    I’ve been watching videos like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRsbfW4PW24 in order to learn Portuguese, and it’s quite helpful because he speaks rather clearly, and you can guess the kind of things he’s going to say.

  • My suggestion, which goes along with the comic books tip, is Japanese manga (manhua, manwha in Chinese or Korean). I’ve been able to find many of them for free online in Spanish, French, Chinese, and I’ve even seen German. There’s a huge ‘scanlators’ community online that provide free manga that they scan themselves and then translate, usually from Japanese. If you’re learning an Asian or relatively common language, chances are there’s a group that has free manga in your target language.

  • Fanfiction about movies, books, comics/manga, animation, celebrities, etc. The really big fanfic sites have lots of filters including language. Some have even been translated into different languages so you can read them together.
    Some of the biggest: http://www.fanfiction.net http://www.archiveofourown.org

  • I’ll share my addiction with you: http://fishki.net
    There’s an English version I think, but the main language of the page, and most of the content, is in Russian. I think as far as “embarassing reading lists” go, you can find a bit of everything there.

    • I’m adding it to my personal list of Russian resources. Seems very entertaining! πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  • To make looking for sites in other languages easier you can use http://www.2lingual.com/ – it translates your search term and then gives parallel columns of hits in both languages.

  • Great list! When I was studying Japanese, I needed to read business and political news but they were really boring…so I switched to gossip πŸ˜€ Now I mostly read tweets, recipes, song lyrics and random personal blogs.

    • Bartosz Czekala

      I know what you mean! This is like a guilt-free pass to the world of mindless entertainment πŸ˜€

  • Dawid Straszak

    “You KNOW why”
    Can’t stop laughing. Thank you Bartek, it is very helpful to get all of this advice with links to free activities, which might be used immediately.

  • Hi Barosz,

    I love your site and it contains some very valuable advice for language learners and for most people interested in improving their lives, in fact.

    I’m a language coach, currently working in Fucecchio, Tuscany helping people with the languages that i speak (English (mother tongue), German, French, Dutch and of course I could help in Italian, but I’m here to improve that one;-)

    I am hosted by families and give them a minimum of ten hours a week intensive coaching/training in return.I like to pick up a few more clients on my travels. 8-10 hours with me, puts them on a path to become successful independent learners My approach is based on neuroscience and how people learn and has great parallels with your work.

    I’m continually amazed that the Italian education system seems to want to do everything possible to prevent people from learning languages. It is something humans are designed to do!

    Keep up the good work!

    John Kirton

    • Bartosz Czekala

      Love your comment John! It seems that educations systems almost anywhere are hell-bent on making people fail at language learning! I am looking forward to hearing more from you! πŸ™‚ Great job by the way! πŸ™‚

  • This article is so funny! I’m going to have to share it with my students.

    It’s funny to think about because when I want a “rest” and some down time to use English (my native language), I definitely end up on gossip sites and funny YouTube videos. I’ve never thought of doing the same thing to improve my Spanish or Japanese. Although I do buy “Hola” in Spanish sometimes. ::red cheeks:: … Easy to read, but yes, I am still improving my langauge that way.

    • Thank you! It’s kind of my motto – “It’s not the waste of time if it’s in another language!” πŸ™‚