mardi 12 juillet 2011

Language Learning: The Harry Potter technique...

I draw so awesome.
To celebrate the soon-to-be-released FINAL Harry Potter movie (Part 2) *sob!* I thought I would tell you about another effortless way in which you can get a crack on with your language learning!

Easy-to-read books. We all have them. For some it's chic lit. Others it's a swords and magic fantasy series. Some people have to spend their lives denying the fact that they hoovered up the Twilight books (ahem), but few can deny that Harry Potter made a lot of people's summer reading lists.

Books like these are just so easy to settle down with. They usually have an engaging plot, perhaps some wish fulfillment (he can conjure chocolate!), and usually come in series of at least 3 books - perfect fodder for those days when you come back from work and your brain just can't tackle Jane Austen's speech, or muster a worry for global warming, or commit to nuanced criticism of global politics, or trawl through layers of elaborately woven metaphor, description, allegory and ambience before finally seeing a progression in the plot ...

Sun, sand and language learning...

You pull the well-worn book off your shelf. Perhaps it hasn't even had time to gather dust yet. And just as you thumb it open to peer at the first page...

Guilt sets in: aren't you wasting precious time re-reading a book? Couldn't you put your reading hours to better use when applied to aforementioned Pullitzer Prize winner / 'oh-you-haven't-read' classic/ thoughtful political memoir?

Well, fear not! For I, and I'm sure many others, have discovered a way to get what you want (a laid back, familiar read) with what you need (a challenge)! A paradox? Well, hmm, quite...

I'll guide you to my bookshelf (or, my hypothetical bookshelf, seeing as most of my books are currently in storage)... I currently have four Harry Potter books.

"Yes?" I hear you say, unimpressed. "How is that remarkable?"

Well, you see, these four books are in four different languages. Ta da! Or perhaps I should say: 'Lumos!', or something similarly geeky. On my bookshelf I have 'Harry Potter und der Feuerkelche', 'Harry Potter et le prisonnier d'Azkaban', Harry Potter og Føniksordenen and هاري بوتر و حجرالفيلسوف (hypothetical prizes for guessing which one is which!).

Familiar books in a foreign language are a great way to extend your vocabulary. They're not quite as culturally immersive as if you are reading literature by a foreign author, but they provide lots of exposure to new words, phrases and expressions, while not straining your brain too much.

You can often order foreign language books through your local bookstore, or through foreign language specialists like Grant and Cutler who often have an online website. The cheapest way, however, is to keep an eye out for translations when you're traveling abroad!

Do you have any favourite books that you've managed to obtain in another language? Have you had any foreign language Harry Potter experiences? And where in the world will you be watching the last Harry Potter film? Tell us in the comments!

Pictures: (1) Kate, (2) Simon Cocks

HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. © 2011 All rights reserved.