https://www.duolingo.com/EmmaLouG

Reading My First Second Language Book

EmmaLouG
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I've just started reading one of my favorite books, that just happens to have been originally written in French, Le Petit Prince. I am writing this post to share the process I've made up, and to ask for you to share your process when reading a book in your target (or second) language.

First, I'm reading out loud. Any words that I flub or don't know how to pronounce, I write down to enter into Forvo.com later.

Next, I break it down by sentence. If I understood the sentence, good, move on. If not, I start translating words I don't know until I understand the sentence. I'm not translating every word because that would ruin the fun, and I'm half expecting to understand what I call "filler words" (so, therefore, as, until, etc.) when I see them the second or third time 'round. I'm not writing down translated words, because honestly, I'm not going to look at my notes.

Then, when I finish the chapter, I listen to that chapter and read along with an audio book. That catches more words that I had mispronounced when I read it myself.

My last plan of attack, is to read a lot. I actually lost interest in reading books in English, but reading in French (so far) has made reading interesting again. Just yesterday, I got a French novel in an antique store for $1, and I am keeping an eye out for more.

Do you have any particular process or things you do when reading a book, or article? Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing your own techniques!

3 weeks ago

21 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/01LearnFrench01
01LearnFrench01
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Here is a list of French literature from Amazon you can read for free with the online Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader. Note that Amazon inserts non-free items in the list as an ad, just skip over those and more free books will appear.

There are lots here too.

There is also this list of free Gutenberg French books by category that you may enjoy.

My favorite is Livribox. Click the advanced search button, to select the language and genre.

I started with Tom Pouce because children's fiction is easiest. Every librivox recording gives the audio and the text of the story. The music speed changer app allows you to slow down the playback of the audio. I use it with Bluestacks to listen to the books while following along with the text.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/angus390025
angus390025
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Good call! I guess I hadn't read it. I just looked up Le Petit Prince pdf and found it and read the first chapter. I had to look up three words: Vierge, fauve, and chef-d’œuvre. I felt pretty silly about the first and third, thinking that I should have guessed them from either spelling or context. I bet you get that feeling as well.

Fauve was a new one, and would have been handy too! I used the phrase "chats sauvages" to describe to my landlady (who spoke no English) the feral cats that were bothering my wife last summer when we stayed at a condo for a couple of weeks in Basse Terre. She was pretty sympathetic. Apparently they camp outside her door as well and she has a young daughter so she worries about them.

I read Le Monde daily on line. At least one article. Today I read about refugees from Asia who are not finding La France all it was cracked up to be and who want to leave. About 10 thousand per year pack it up and head back to places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. They find either the climate, the culture, the job prospects, or the food not to their liking. It was sort of interesting because we don't often get that side of the story. You'll see it near the top if you visit LeMonde.fr today. I usually have to look a couple of words with every article I read, so it serves two purposes: practice what I know, and learn new stuff. Like you, I don't take any notes. It's quicker that way. On the down side, I do sometimes have to look up a word more than once because I forget. :)

Good luck and best wishes.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ngraner42
ngraner42
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I also lost interest in reading in English, especially fiction, but in French I am really enjoying reading novels again.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EmmaLouG
EmmaLouG
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Good for you! What was the first French book that you read? And what are some of your favorites?

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ngraner42
ngraner42
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The first was L'etranger, which I hacked my way through with difficulty. Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune is fun. My favorites are The Da Vinci code and my current read, La Fille du Train, but both are translations to French.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/angus390025
angus390025
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haha. L'Étranger by Albert Camus was my first French book too. It took me a looooong time, because I had to keep looking up words.

You might check out Meursault: contre-enquête by Kamel Daoud (2013, Barzakh Press). It's sort of a North African's answer to Camus, critical and clever. I'm not a big fan of basking in the warm glow of White Man's Guilt, but Daoud presents an excellent counterpoint to the Francocentricity of Camus' L'Étranger and its treatment of the Algerian. The collective Algerian, or the "mass noun" as duolingo might call it. Like Camus, Dauod is both political and philosophical, but less structured. Somewhat Joycean, but a good read nonetheless. You'll probably find yourself looking up lots of French words for that one as well.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ngraner42
ngraner42
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"Today mom is still alive." That is funny. I will give it a go. Thanks.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells
MissSpells
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Kudos on venturing into the land of French literature. I find I don't quite have the attention span to read a novel, but I do try to read an article online ever day or so. My process is less a lot less thorough than yours. I use Readlang web reader, and I usually go paragraph by paragraph, just hightlighting/translating and unfamiliar vocab or even vocab that is used in a different sence and I am unsure about as I go. Sometimes I will then unclick the translated words and read the article again quickly, I am not really trying to remember anything though, just get the context. I never translate whole sentences... unless they are really idiomatic (yesterday I learnt a new one 'poser un lapin') Then later I review the vocab with readlang (it saves words as close sentences to be practiced as flashcards). This way is quite comfortable and enjoyable for me. I should probably practice reading out loud though, as my pronounciation is terrible. Sometimes when I do the duolingo stories I repeat the dialogue as I read to try to work on pronounciation a bit.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ErinAndW
ErinAndW
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I'm glad you liked it, and really impressed with all the work you did! I also just read Le Petit Prince. I've been struggling with it for years, putting it down for periods of time, and just not making progress. This summer I went to France, bought some interesting looking children's books, and I read one this fall/winter. It was Contes et Legends du Roi Arthur, in case anyone's interested. After that, I thought I'd give Le Petit Prince another go. To my surprise, it was easy compared to my other book! I could read at a pace comparable to my native English, which made the process so much fun. Reading wasn't a chore. There were words I didn't know, I guessed from context, used the pictures, or occasionally looked them up. I struggled a bit with the passe simple, but it got easier.

Isn't it cool to see yourself improve?

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/XX_Knight_XX21

I enjoy reading on a kindle because Amazon has a pretty large selection of foreign language books (my native is English, learning spanish) and it has a auto translator if i don't know what a word is when I look it up it'll automatically be added to a vocab list that is in a flash card form so it saves a lot of time when it comes to writing them down and looking up the words.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/01LearnFrench01
01LearnFrench01
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Best of all, for those who don't have a Kindle, the Kindle Cloud Reader and all the free kindle books are available for all online.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/XX_Knight_XX21

Not to mention Kindles work with audible if you have a bluetooth speaker. Books tend to be a bit cheaper for the kindle version as well

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/angus390025
angus390025
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Je l'ai terminé! Je lis Le Petit Prince par intermittence depuis quatre jours. Aujourd'hui j'ai fini le livre et je suis prêt à en discuter.

C'était un peu bizarre. Je comprends que l'auteur a essayé de parler aux enfants. Je comprends aussi que les personnages étaient des métaphores pour des types modernes et obsédés. Mais, je suis confus.

J'ai trouvé cet article aujourd'hui en anglais, mais l'auteur semble aussi confus:

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-strange-triumph-of-the-little-prince

Un extrait, faisant référence à l'exil de Saint-Exupéry à New York pendant la seconde guerre mondiale:

Searching for the causes of that collapse, the most honest honorable minds—Marc Bloch and Camus among them—thought that the real fault lay in the French habit of abstraction. The French tradition that moved, and still moves, pragmatic questions about specific instances into a parallel paper universe in which the general theoretical question—the model—is what matters most had failed its makers. Certainly, one way of responding to the disaster was to search out some new set of abstractions, of overarching categories to replace those lost. But a more humane response was to engage in a ceaseless battle against all those abstractions that keep us from life as it is....

The richest way to see “Le Petit Prince” is as an extended parable of the kinds and follies of abstraction—and the special intensity and poignance of the story is that Saint-Exupéry dramatizes the struggle against abstraction not as a philosophical subject but as a life-and-death story. The book moves from asteroid to desert, from fable and comedy to enigmatic tragedy, in order to make one recurrent point: You can’t love roses. You can only love a rose.

Que pensez-vous de l'histoire du Petit Prince?

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/01LearnFrench01
01LearnFrench01
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I read The Little Prince in English a while back. I would have to reread to remember.

You may like these study guides:

I used them when I was in school.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/angus390025
angus390025
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I looked at the first one. Interesting character analysis, especially for the snake and the rose. Well, for all of them really. I may take a look at the other two a bit later. Thanks for posting them. Still, I'd very much like to hear from the OP, who will have read it recently, and in the original language.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/M4R-KU5
M4R-KU5
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That's an excellent choice! And congratulations. Bonne chance!

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lutay_
Lutay_
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Bonne chance!

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sedona2007

I am trying to read / listen to the first Harry Potter book, bit by bit. I was able to get the paperback book and the unabridged book on CD which helps with the accent.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/leonidBr__
leonidBr__
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Thanks for the detailed explanation. I wish you a pleasant reading and success in French. I am also very grateful to the many forum participants, who helped me start to speak English and start learning French. My own method is similar to yours and is based on learning the language skills in Duolingo and the recommendations in this forum. I learn words from my vocabulary when I read or watch movies. There are about 3000 of the most commonly used words in the dictionary. Already learned about 2700 English and 270 French. I have now read the book by Jules Verne "Around of the World in 80 days" (without a dictionary) in English and I want to read it in French When reading, I use google translate and translate all the page of the text into the English, French.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/badger246

I try to pick books that I want to read, not just because they're in French.

one of the reasons I started learning French again - I did it at GCSE many years ago - was to be able to read Camus in the original language, so I have, predictably, read "L'Étranger" which I already know very well in English, and a few of the stories out of "L'Exil et le Royaume". the story "L'Hôte" from that was used as the basis for the film "Far from Men"/"Loin des Hommes" which I liked a lot.

at the moment I'm reading "Winne L'Ourson"/"Winnie the Pooh" & the original humour comes through really well in the translation. :)

after that I've got "M. Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran" to read - the film of that is worth a watch too.

I did try "Le Petit Prince", but I got bored of it half way through & have given up on it for now.

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salariman
Salariman
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I find foreign language novels quite hard to read whereas non-fiction books are usually much easier. I don't mind reading current affairs or geopolitical books in French, but just can't bring myself to read fiction.

Maybe I'll give fiction a try in the coming days when Michel Houellebecq's new book is released!

2 weeks ago
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