Based on what I’ve seen at the HTLAL forums, the Harry Potter books are often some of the first books that people will tackle in their target language, as they’re fun books that lots of learners have already read in English. Getting hold of copies in your target language is now a lot easier, provided you’re studying French, German, Italian or Spanish: the Pottermore Shop now has the whole series available for purchase. The eBooks are compatible with lots of devices: e-readers, smart phones, tablets, as well as pretty much any computer.
If you own a Kindle and have an Amazon.com Prime Membership, you get it even better: you can read the books for free. Starting June 19th, the whole series will be available through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
Update (1/4/16) – A number of readers have reported that they can no longer get this add-on to work. I tried it and it didn’t work for me, either. I’m afraid it might just be a case of an old extension, which hasn’t been updated in quite some time, not being compatible with the latest versions of Chrome. Pity!
If you use Google Chrome, there’s a nifty little add-on you might want to check out, called Language Immersion for Chrome. It’s built using Google’s automatic translation services, so you can select from 64 different languages. It also allows you to select a level of fluency (from beginner to fluent). The add-on takes whatever web site you’re looking at and randomly replaces words with your foreign language equivalent. Clicking on them changes them to English, and hovering over them will give you a pronunciation.
It’s certainly not something that is going to replace serious study and reading target language material, but every little bit helps, and it’s a neat way to sprinkle some language exposure into your daily web routine.
If you’ve taken a look at my Twitter account, you might have noticed my tweets to @TadokuBot, which look something like this: @TadokuBot 15 #book #de. The tweets are my updates for the Read More or Die challenge. It’s a fairly simple challenge: read as much as you can in your target language(s) during the month of April. You send your updates to the bot, and it keeps track of how many pages you’ve read, as well as your rank amongst your “competitors.”
While it started on the 1st, it’s not too late to sign up. There were some people on the HTLAL forums who seemed reluctant to take part because they knew they couldn’t read hundreds of pages in their foreign languages in one month, but that’s sort of missing the point. It’s not about “winning” (there aren’t any prizes other than bragging rights), it’s about reading. Some friendly competition is a good way to kick yourself into gear.
If you’re interested in taking part, check out the Read More or Die challenge blog. You’ll want to follow TadokuBot on Twitter to see updates, and you’ll probably want to follow lordsilent as well, who’s behind the challenge.