Great books to read - and ways to read them - to help improve your German and French skills

Updated: May 6

Reading a book in an original language is a great way to accelerate your learning - and that's a fact! It's a much faster way to improve the richness of your vocabulary than through speaking alone, and will help you to quickly pick up those often complicated grammar rules. The brain can remember more when it sees words written down, and reading a book will complement the other ways in which you are learning. Reading will also give you an important insight into local culture and history.

In order to get the best from your reading without getting frustrated, here are some great tips to help you;

  • The first time you read a book, try not to focus on what you can't understand, hard as it may seem. Read the books from beginning to end and try not to pick up a dictionary every time you come to a word you don't know the meaning of - just keep going, trust me!

  • The second time you read the book , slow down, highlight words you don't know, and then it's time to pick up the dictionary and fill in the gaps. Hopefully you'll have your own copy of the book to make your notes in.

  • Read often – quantity is more important than quality, even if you don't understand every word, you'll be immersing yourself in the story, and you can try to guess what you don't know!

  • Choose a subject matter that interests you - it's much easier to pick up vocabulary on one particular topic, especially if you are passionate about it.


Some books you could try in German....

  • Emil und die Detektive (beginner/intermediate)

  • Die Unendliche Geschichte (The Never Ending Story (inter)

  • Momo – originally written for teens, this novel is just as exciting for adults

  • Die Verwandlung by Kafka (beginners) – simple grammar and short sentences

  • Biedermann und die Brandstifter (intermediate/advanced)

And some in French.....

  • Le Petit Prince (beginner) – easy to read, simple sentence structure

  • L'Etranger (beginner)

  • L'Amant – hypnotic writing and simple to read; the words and phrases are repeated, which is good for poetic effect and for learning.

  • Mon Pere est Femme de Menage (easy/intermediate) – My Father is a Cleaning Lady is a short novel fun to read to develop comprehension skills and a film too.

  • Ensemble, c'est Tout! (intermediate/advanced) – film and book; modern and easy to read writing style and dialogue.

  • Que serais-je sans toi? (intermediate/advanced) – love story with easy to follow vocabulary

  • Ou on va, papa? (easy/intermediate) – well structured narrative and easy vocabulary.

If you'd like some help taking your languages to the next level, please get in touch. The Language Cabin offers one-to-one tutoring for GSCE and A Level, face to face or on zoom, adult classes and group revision days.

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