How to Learn a New Language with the Harry Potter Books
Harry Potter is one of the most well-known fantasy book series in the world which has captivated children, adolescents, and adults alike. Most people know about Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s adventures in Hogwarts. What you may not know, however, is that this amazing series can not only entertain you but also help you learn almost any language of your choice.
If your aim is to become bilingual, you must know already that there’s an important factor when pursuing this path: motivation. Without it, being consistent and practicing every day is like a nightmare. After all, nobody likes to repeat endless grammar rules or memorize hundreds of new words without any context. That’s when real-life materials, such as the Harry Potter series, come to the rescue.
If you use these books to learn a new language, you will not only be entertained by its gripping plot but you’ll also pick up new vocabulary, understand grammar and word order and increase your reading comprehension. Keep on reading and discover how to learn a language with Harry Potter today!
Why Harry Potter Is Great to Learn New Languages
One of the main advantages of this book series is that it has been translated into almost 100 languages. So, you can use Harry Potter whether you want to learn Spanish, Italian, Chinese, or even Macedonian. Plus, most of these translations often come with audiobooks, so you can put your listening skills into play in addition to honing your reading ability!
Just bear in mind that, for the learning process to be fruitful, you’ll need to be familiar with the story before delving into a foreign-language version of the books. Harry Potter is a fantasy series in which so many of the words used, such as muggle, patronus, dementors, knut, do not actually exist in any language. If you are reading the book for the first time in Italian, for example, you may be confused and not know if “horcrux” is an Italian term you don’t yet know or an invented word within the Harry Potter universe.
Anyhow, here are some other reasons why this series is the best for any language learner:
Harry Potter is brilliant for language learners for a simple reason: it gets harder as you advance in your reading journey. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was written for kids aged 10-12, so the vocabulary, the grammar structures, and the story itself are quite simple and straightforward.
However, as the story progresses, things start to get more complicated. The plot thickens and so do the grammar structures and the length of the books themselves. By the time you get to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, you’ll notice that the story has gotten much mature and darker, as the target audience is young adults, not children anymore.
All in all, Harry Potters’ books will accompany your language journey, becoming increasingly complex as you advance over time!
It’s Easy to Learn Vocabulary
As you already know, Harry Potter is a fantasy book, which means not all of the vocabulary you pick up will be useful in your daily life. It’s not very likely you are going to speak about magic, dragons, or castles with your neighbors, right? Yet, the dialogs combine colloquial expressions (especially when the friends interact with each other) and contemporary language use.
Further, the translations are great and it’s easy even for low-intermediate-level language students to understand what new words mean in context. For example, let’s compare an excerpt in English taken from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with its Spanish translation:
English Version: Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number 4 Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
Spanish Version: El señor y la señora Dursley, que vivían en el número 4 de Privet Drive, estaban orgullosos de decir que eran muy normales, afortunadamente.
As you can see, the translation is straightforward, which makes it easy to acquire new vocabulary in Spanish. For instance, it’s quite clear that “orgullosos” means “proud” or that señor y señora means “Mr. and Mrs”. Of course, the translation is not literal, so you’ll notice that “thank you very much” is not translated into “gracias” but into “afortunadamente”. Anyway, the meaning is the same.
The same happens with the Portuguese version of Harry Potter:
English Version: Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills.
Portuguese Version: Mr. Dursley era director de uma empresa chamada Grunnings que fabricava brocas.
Definitely, familiarity with the English version of Harry Potter (or the patience to do parallel readings!) is an asset when trying to acquire vocabulary in a different language using real-life materials.
Becoming bilingual in any language is about taking small but steady steps towards your goal, and the Harry Potter books can give you the motivation boost you need to take your skills to the next level! Just make sure to read the books in your native language first to make the process even smoother.
And if you need more help to get fluent in your target language, don’t hesitate to contact us at Language Trainers. Our native-speaking instructors will prepare engaging lessons around any materials you prefer!