Thursday, August 03, 2006

A great foreign language idea gone awry 

So I went to the library to take out a few bilingual books. These are the ones that have the English version on the left page and the text in another language on the right. They are a great way for learning foreign languages. I love bilingual books because if you are not totally fluent in another language, any time you stumble upon something you don't understand, in less than a second you can glance at the opposite page and find the exact translation immediately. Although it takes effort and a lot more time to read a text in a foreign language you are still learning, it is a lot better than just a regular foreign language book, since there is no stopping to look up every single word you don't know in the dictionary - which is tremendously frustrating because it takes forever. And, specially when reading literature, the dictionary isn't always helpful - sometimes you don't know which meaning is the exact one, or you don't find a definition that makes sense. So you lose all this time looking up a word only to reach a meaningless dead-end. And a whole story can be lost because you missed out on a few important terms or expressions. Subtlety is vital in literature and so is precision of meaning.

So I start reading a story in a bilingual book and what happens? I get engrossed in the story, it takes too long to reach the next plot twist, so I immediately switch to reading everything in English.


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