Kindle and Reading in Language Learning

Kindle is currently one of my favorite language learning tools. The convenience and functionality of the device are what stand out the most. It’s easy to take with you when traveling and is much more durable than a book.

It’s also a great way to learn new vocabulary while reading in a foreign language. Reading in general is a healthy habit to have including in your own language. It’s a gateway towards expanding your mind and boosting your communication skills.

Reading can expose you to a wide variety of new words and that’s why it’s essential in language learning.

As an English tutor I always tell my students that reading is the best way to grow their English vocabulary and it’s something that I live by as well.

In the languages that I speak well, German and Portuguese, there was a time in the learning process when I was a voracious reader in each. Initially, I built this habit in German primarily through an application called Lingq but later, after I had studied Portuguese for just over a year, I began to feel that I was outgrowing the app.

This last February I decided that I wouldn’t be renewing my yearly Lingq subscription that upcoming May and after some research decided to order a Kindle.

Page from the preface of “As Dez Maiores Bolhas de Todos os Tempos” by Thiago Reis

A Kindle is great for language learners for several reasons but the two that attract me to it are Kindle Unlimited and the foreign language dictionaries that are integrated into the software.

Kindle Unlimited is a service that allows you to access books that are registered under the program for free when you pay a monthly fee. At the moment it’s $9.99 per month in the United States.

This service is great for reading books in foreign languages because the kinds of books that are more likely to be listed under this service are more ideal for foreign readers, those which are short and have a set of vocabulary that’s simple relative to their respective topic.

A great example of this is a series of books by Suno Research, a Brazilian institution focused on supplying investment analysis to the broader Brazilian public. The books or booklets discuss different topics in finance and economics with the main goal being to educate the reader on how to make good investment decisions.

I’ve read two of these books already, one covering accounting for investors and the other about small cap stocks, and have just began “As Dez Maiores Bolhas de Todos os Tempos” by Thiago Reis. There is a version of this last one in English called “The Ten Biggest Bubbles of All Time” if you’re interested in reading it.

The reason I read these is because of my familiarity with the topic and a general desire to grow my knowledge more in this area as I’m currently finishing a master’s degree in finance and considering the possibility of using foreign languages in my professional life. I’ve also just begun reading a book in German about stocks called “Das Aktienbuch – Intelligent Investieren in Aktien – für Einsteiger” by Patrick Strasser.

The second thing that attracts me to Kindle is the ability to use foreign language dictionaries. You can download dictionaries and simply click on a word as you’re reading to get the meaning in your native language, regardless of whether or not you’re connected to the internet. This is a great way to utilize technology in language learning.

Image displaying the use of the dictionary function on Kindle. Taken from a page of “Das Aktienbuch – Intelligent Investieren in Aktien – für Einsteiger” by Patrick Stasser

I often see people say online that there is no best way to learn a language but in my experience that’s only half true. There are ways that are surely more efficient than others.

When I read books in German for the first time, I read hard copies and would highlight words that I didn’t know, go back through the pages later and type them into an Excel spreadsheet, then look up their definition in a dictionary so that I could upload the spreadsheet onto a website that would make flashcards for me.

This took an excruciating amount of time, so much so that I probably spent the same amount of time making the flashcards that I did studying them. To tie my point altogether, there is the simple fact that if you see a word enough times in an eBook with a dictionary on Kindle you will learn it as you would periodically studying a flashcard.

If the idea of owning a Kindle is intriguing to you, I recommend taking a look at Amazon’s website to learn about other features and options that are included like text-to-speech and audiobooks. You can also find a comparison of models there. I have a basic Kindle that works great for me, but you may want to research Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis depending on whether or not you will want it for more than what was described in this article.

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