How do you use Parallel Text?

I know some of you is really an advocate of Parallel Text but I’d like to know a bit more if you can dedicate a bit of time to explain.

How do you use it to make it effective? Is it really working comparing, for example, to simply reading sentences here on LingQ?

Is it working at any stage of learning or it becomes more important in phases like, for example, intermediate or others?

Could you describe how you use it?
(and if with ebooks, books or you print it…)

Thank you very much.


Short version:
I’ve used some beginning parallel text a little bit in my early stages. I think I didn’t quite understand the power I potentially had in my hand. I think in the future I would try to utilize them if I could.

tldr version:

In the early stage of my German learning I did grab a couple of parallel texts books…very easy one that highlighted the first 500 words, and then the first 1000 words. The stories were very simple, but, particularly the beginning one would often repeat the same words in different sentences to highlight the conjugations, similar to mini stories.

In hindsight, I think I should’ve given these books more focus in the beginning, but I think I was still trying to find my way through the maze of ways to learn a language and then when I finally landed on LingQ, I found myself simply using it and not the books. I think my main problem is that I would love to get it in LingQ so I can see it in a statistical manner.

If I were to find books in another language I was learning that were similar I would probably focus on them a bit more and not be worried about the words not getting into LingQ just yet…since they are beginning texts, the words will appear eventually in other reading I do on LingQ.

I think the other problem I had was that there is just sooooo much content out there. Once you discover LingQ, there’s so much that I get distracted on. Not a bad thing, it keeps things interesting.


Thanks for your feedback Eric, I appreciate it.

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I use bilingual text mainly to decipher meaning while listening. I listen to German a few times while following along in English. Then again read the text in German while listening to it. Finally, I listen to it without any text help. You can experiment with it; it is up to you.


I usually import the text on LingQ and go through it without the need of a parallel text. Do you do that to improve your comprehension in an advanced level?

t_harangi will probably chime in here at some point as I know he’s suggested the usage of parallel text before…I think at the beginning levels.

In any event, LingQ sentence view, for me, mostly serves that purpose as you suggest. The one thing that does cause a little trouble, though, is that that in sentence view it becomes easy to get lost in who is speaking as the conversation shifts back and forth.

With the parallel text this would be less of an issue, because you’re able to see the passages and also get “paragraph” (or more) view. So you can see the surrounding sentences translated. In LingQ, you’d have to go back and forth in sentence views, and then click out to see who’s speaking. I tend to just fight through it in sentence view, but again, it can be a little easy to get lost. I think parallel text would help with that.

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I think “bembe” posted a very detailed post in regards to using a bilingual text. At what stage of the word known count should you do extensive reading and which books should be used for that purpose. He posted it on my wall. You can read there.

He is a very experienced learner of German. As per his forecast, three days ago I picked up a book aimed at 8-12 years old. At my current word count, I read it straight through without using any crutches and I understood it completely.

Now I am switching to “extensive reading” without using any other medium in between. At least for me, it is not a bad idea to read some easy stuff. Choose easy books for extensive reading.

I read another book “Supergute Tage order Die Sonderbare Welt Des Christopher Boone.” I read it straight through without using any crutches. It is meant for A2. In terms of vocabulary range and grammar structures, it is a great book to read. It turned out to be a good choice for going through extensive reading.

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Yes, that’s true, you have to go back and forward but it’s also true that usually we don’t focus on every sentence. Maybe that’s a problem as well, we should do it more. I have no idea.

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Here’s the paragraph from Bembe that talks about Parallel text:

One breakthrough is when you get to the Intensive Reading level at maybe 90% understanding, so for example you can get the gist of a story but are still puzzling about the meaning of mystery words. Here it helps immensely when you have dual language texts or, as in LingQ you turn on the individual sentence mode to get a rough approximation Google Translate meaning. Again, it depends hugely on the material.

What do you mean exactly with “extensive reading”? I’m not sure to have the same idea about this. Thanks

@Asad: ok, basically it’s just reading a lot. I suppose you meant “without” looking up words but I got the idea, thanks.

“unassisted” reading for us laypeople =)

I too get the terminology mixed up.

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I do really love bilingual books. (I have been using them for all three languages I have been studying)

REASON # 1: I do not have to stare into computer screen
REASON # 2: Those books existed before I discovered LingQ
REASON # 3: When I read those books I feel a greater sense of accomplishment. It feels more “real” to read proper book with real pages.
REASON # 4: can read those book just before going to bed. This helps me extend the time of learning. That means I just read a little more with bilingual books.
REASON # 5: It is much easier to read bilingual book than reading books that have no translations. These are usually to frustating and I end up not finishing a non-bilingual book at all. Which further frustrates me.

How I use them?

In the early stages of learning a new language - I understand close to nothing - so I read my native version and just try to find corresponding sentences.
Then I read the same book again and again. But that doesn’t mean, i only read the same book. I read my bilingual book, then i read another one, and another one. Then I go back to first one.
And here is the sense of achievement. I now see how much more I understand.
So during a year I come back to the same book again and again. And I see, that I understand much more.
In early stages - it is more about noticing vocabulary
second stage - noticing more grammatical structures (basic tenses)
third stage - noticing more nuanced stuff (prepositions)
last stage - I almost know the book by heart - which in fact means many sentences in the book are really cemented in my memory and when I need to speak, these senteces just pop out of my head.

If I can, i try to get bilingual books with mp3 audio, so after reading I can listen to the book. Then I can listen to the book until i understand every single sentence in the book. So while doing the chores, I listen to the audio, but realize, i do not understand a sentece, i make a a mental note, that I want to go back to a certain chapter and I re-listen, reread in bed.

And when I am working on speaking and writing, i go back to bilingual book, and try to do my own translation into target language. That really helps with active use of the target language.


Thanks for your detailed answer.

I can see that an important part for you is to have a physical book but I have parallel text books on ebooks, so I would eventually use the computer or iPad anyway. :smiley:

One thing I’m not really able to do is going back to read again the same book. I believe it’s worth it but I just find it boring. I will have to find a way to reconsider this, after all, the stages that you mentioned are quite important.

I will have to consider this more attentively. Thanks.

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<< If I can, i try to get bilingual books with mp3 audio, so after reading I can listen to the book. Then I can listen to the book until i understand every single sentence in the book. >>
You can create your own bilingual books with Lingq. With Deepl translator you can translate the lessons in your native language/English side by side then print it out. Mp3 files are also available.

Maybe I can add more info on this.

  1. I read bilingual book until i get to C1 level of understanding. Until then - it is just my laziness. It is quicker to see how grammar works differently. Since my native languge is Czech/Slovak - grammar in English, Spanish, German is completely different. And those bilingual books are just perfect for seeing how grammar structures work (i almost never learn any grammar, do not have patience fot that, I prefer to discover it by reading)
  2. It is not financially possible to buy all the reading material I would like to read. So I go to library.
  3. Now for expanding my English capacity - I read J.K.Rowling Silkworm as bilingual book.
    I read the English Version and when I notice somenthing that strikes me as interesting, i want to se e how this was translated.
    Of course I only choose the best version of translations. I am not able to read most of the Czech translations. Silkworm was exceptionaly well translated, so i learn much more than from simple translations in whatever app there is.
    Maybe in 2 - 3 years it will be different.
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Of course you can.
Because I limit my screen time, and want to read before going to bed, I need to either read in kindle 3, or book made of paper.
And since my library provides like 300 bilingual books, it is just the easiest way to go to library, pick a book and read it. Yearly fee is 3 USD.
Making my own bilingual book is just to much hustle. It is enough to read the book here in LingQ.

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And I forgot to add one thing - when I read something like Silkworm - the language is much richer in both languages than I would ever use. Those senteces in both versions are like poetry, like music. This way i explore both languages and expand my vocab in both of languages.

Lucky person! I need to buy one of those e-readers for reading purpose that Peter talked about in his previous post. That might be a game changer for me I may end up reading more on LingQ. I have extremely weak eyesight. With Kindle looking up words is way slow.

I’ve always been a big fan of Parallel Text - or Comparative Reading, as it’s often referred to. It is by far the fastest way to build vocabulary and comprehension.

At the beginner stages, the best example of the use of this method is the Assimil courses. The whole Assimil method is build around reading and listening to parallel text.

And part of the big advantage of Assimil is that once you’re done with the course, it has gotten you used to reading and listening like that, so you know exactly what to do when you move onto more advanced material such as parallel text / comparative reading of books with audio – ideally using the LingQ interface to speed up the process.

From a practical standpoint, I find that having a printed paper NL version (used paperback are cheap) is best used along with an electronic TL version. It’s easy to have a printed book in front of you while you read on LingQ, for example.

Depending on your level, you’ll probably start comparing sentence by sentence at the beginning, then move up to paragraph by paragraph and so on.

In my experience, it takes 1 or 2 “regular” contemporary books of comparative reading for me to ditch the NL versions and just go on reading on the LingQ interface.

Reaching Advanced 2 lever here will mean that you can pretty much read a book more or less unassisted with occasional lookups of words. (Again I’m assuming “regular” books here. Classics and books with specialty vocab such as stories of the middle ages etc. will require a little more assistance due to use of infrequent words.)


Another thing I have also observed is that once I read the book on Lingq and read the same book in paper edition right away - how smooth was the reading experience. You still remember the meanings of words that you have looked on lingQ.

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