Would you like to learn how you can learn languages by reading Interlinear Books? This post includes some tips and suggestions from us.
1. Aim to understand the story from the original text
The point of Interlinear translations is to enable you to understand the original, not to replace it. Therefore, when reading Interlinear books, the rule of thumb is make sure you understand the story in the original language. That does not mean that you need to know all of the words or expressions. It is suggested, however, that you try to get a general feeling for the story from the original text, knowing what sentences mean. To do this, firstly read the original. If you cannot understand it, only then read the Interlinear translation. When you finish reading a sentence, think if you understand why each original word in the sentence is where it is and what function it plays. This will help you internalize the language. ### 2. Do extra looking up, but only when absolutely necessary
If you feel like you cannot understand the original, and the Interlinear translation does not help, you may sometimes want to look up words in a dictionary or online. You could also look up word forms or expressions to understand how they work. However, all of this distracts you from reading, and it takes extra time, thus you should not overdo it. Some learners may choose not to do this at all, or at least not while reading, and we think this is a legitimate choice too. ### 3. If available, use audiobooks
If possible, get an audiobook and listen to it as you are reading. Audiobooks are just books, which are read aloud and recorded as audio files. You can find many free audiobooks on LibriVox.org, or you may just find them on search engines (tip: try to search for them by entering the book title with the word “audiobook” added to it in the original language). Audiobooks are great, because they let you hear the language and find out how each of the words and phrases are pronounced. You may want to slow down the pace of the recording, rewind or replay some parts as well. One extra suggestion is the following: firstly read and analyze the text with an Interlinear translation, and then listen to the audiobook while being away from the Interlinear book. See how much you can understand. You could even do this multiple times and see how your understanding improves each time you listen to the audiobook. ### 4. Adjust your learning to your level of language knowledge
Given all the tips, it is important to note that the way you use Interlinear books will depend on your level of language proficiency. We tend to recommend these books more to intermediate and advanced learners. If you are a beginner learner, however, you will probably need to adjust your learning accordingly: give it more time, pay less attention to individual words and more to the general story, look up more things, etc. Moreover, if you are a beginner, you will have to put a lot more work in at first and gradually put in less as you progress. There are some things in the original which you may need to skip. You can get a feel for this by reading the English translations: “she woke up” may be an important phrase to pay attention to, but the expression “at his fingertips” may be a bit too advanced to worry about if you are only starting out, so you could only read its Interlinear translation and move on. ### 5. Find out and use what works for you
There are many additional things you could do with Interlinear books: re-read them often, note and try memorize important words with flashcards, read with a tutor, analyze the grammar of the text, etc. All of these things can be very helpful, but every student’s needs are different. Therefore, there is no one correct way to use the book. It is important to experiment and find out what works best for you. Each student should do as much re-reading, learning and extra looking-up as they want. One more important thing to understand is that Interlinear books are not intended to replace other learning methods, but to complement them. There is currently a lot of debate as to how languages are to be learned: some recommend only pure exposure to the language, others suggest learning grammar and vocabulary. We do not necessarily subscribe to either of these. We think that Interlinear books may help you bring literature into your language learning, but, at the end of the day, you should not limit yourself to only one option and you need to do what works for you.
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