Top tips & useful resources for reading in a foreign language

Books scaledBeing able to read in a foreign language is a great achievement and something which most people enjoy.
It is an activity that you can fit into your busy schedule whether you have 10 minutes to spare, half an hour or a 3-hour train journey!
Apart from books here we will look at many more useful foreign language reading resources available today.

Parallel texts

You have the foreign language on one side of the page and the English translation on the other side of the page.

Tip: Start with books you have already read in English or even with children’s stories. There is a huge range of children’s stories and fairy tales available as a bilingual edition.

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They are good because you don’t need to look words up which can be time-consuming and slow down your reading. The translations are normally well done.

sad face scaledYou may not learn new words or see how else they can be used if you are not looking up words yourself.
They are not available in all languages although they are increasing.
Penguin Parallel Texts in various languages

Polyglot Planet Publishing:

Interlinear Books

The translation in English appears below each word in a smaller and lighter coloured font.

smiley face scaled The translation is literal which for many people learning languages is ideal because it helps them to see the structure and how sentences are formed.

sad face scaledThe range of languages and variety of books is currently small.

Check out their range on their website: Interlinear Books:


smiley face scaledComics are fun to read, are short bursts of text with pictures to go with it which can give you hints as to what the text means. These are all great advantages to start off with if you are a beginner and are just starting to read in the new language. Although they are often humorous, there are some comics that deal with more serious subjects such as politics or the economy.

sad face scaledDepending on the language you are learning you may find a limited range of comics available to you. If you are learning French or Japanese you are in luck! These are much easier to find.

Language Comics: A range of fun and engaging comics in French and Spanish on a variety of everyday subjects. Some are free or sign up for membership for unlimited access.

Go Comics: Search for “Spanish” or “French” comics, or whichever language you are learning.

Newspapers & Magazines

smiley face scaledYou can easily browse these and if you have your own copy you can scribble your own notes on them.

sad face scaledThey can be difficult to get hold of if you don’t live in the country where the language is spoken. Try your local library as they often stock up-to-date newspapers in various languages for the public to read.
When you visit the country bring back reading material or try asking friends or family who have been there to bring you back some authentic reading material; newspapers, magazines, brochures etc.
If not, there are plenty of online newspapers and magazines to read which we will look at now.

Online News

smiley face scaledAs well as reading online newspaper sites you can also download foreign language news apps to your phone or tablet.
Again you can use these when you have 5 minutes spare or for longer study sessions when you have more time.
If you are just starting to find a good foreign newspaper in your target language use Newspaper Map to filter the newspapers by language and see the results on a world map.

sad face scaledOnline reading is not as easy to browse as paper copies. Neither can you write your own notes all over the articles.

Other apps for foreign language reading

This is an excellent app to improve your reading in a foreign language. You are given authentic texts to read in the target language from foreign newspapers, magazines and blogs and when you click on any new words, they are put into your word bank which you then practise to help you memorise them.
It tailors the texts to your level, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced learner. It is a very clever app as it keeps track of your progress and sends you reminders.


This is a brilliant ebook whereby you select foreign stories to start reading. You get to see the word translated into English by tapping each word or sentence.

smiley face scaledUnlike Parallel Texts and Interlinear Books you only see the target language unless you tap to see the word translated into English.

sad face scaledSome of the stories are free but you have to pay a subscription to access all of the stories.


This is a Chrome and Safari extension that can also be used on mobile devices which allows you to translate any word or phrase on any webpage.

smiley face scaledIt is extremely user-friendly once you know your way around the app. You can also upload texts and review the words you have clicked on and practise flashcards.

Install Readlang to your web browser here.

I hope there is something here you like the sound of to help you get more out of your foreign language reading!












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