Novels vs Articles?

I am going to guess that most people advance to reading novels and focus on that primarily but what is the efficiency of focusing on articles when at a capable level? in comparison to novels. I know that many will simply do both but I am curious of your opinions. You could read lot of articles compared to one novel if we base this on number of words.


  • Limited to one author and their vocab.
  • Focuses on one or two themes only.


  • Covers a wide variety of different themes and content.
  • Written by many different people.
  • Useful knowledge of what is happening in the countries relating to the language.
  • Possible exposure to less formal words.
1 Like


  • Contain wider ranging vocab.
  • They may be limited to one author, but said author will utilize a richer vocab than any journalist is allowed to use.
  • More engaging content.
  • Available with audio narration (This is a VERY IMPORTANT factor for language learning)
  • Massive potential for cultural content.
  • Exposure to various speech styles, colloquialisms, slang, regional accents, historic accents and expressions etc.
  • Wide variety of subject matters and themes available.
  • Long form engagement.


  • Limited vocab – journalists often aim for clarity and speed of information accessible to a lower denominator as opposed to linguistics substance. (This can be a positive aspect for language learners as far as comprehension is concerned, but still.)
  • No audio narration.
  • Short term engagement.
  • Less engaging content.

There is nothing wrong with reading articles, of course, as part of an everyday routine, or as part of language learning, but the teaching potential of news articles does not compare to the massive, heavy boost rocket of reading novels with audio narration.


I wonder why you try to set off novels against articles so sharply?
Both are useful for language study and for further maintaining of your language skills.
I can also add some topic lessons and everyday dialogues for the beginner level and some movies, radio and TV programmes for all levels, especially live transmissions.

1 Like


  • Limited vocab – journalists often aim for clarity and speed of information accessible to a lower denominator as opposed to linguistics substance. (This can be a positive aspect for language learners as far as comprehension is concerned, but still.)
  • No audio narration.
  • Short term engagement.
  • Less engaging content."

All not true. Depends on the source.

I don’t like reading novels even in English so this thread surprised me. There is one novel I do read in most languages, but I don’t read it continuously or even in a consistent chapter order. Studying on LingQ I get something I call “breadth paranoia” where I feel unsure I am casting the net wide enough… For that reason I don’t stick with any single item for long before trying other things.

In language learning, especially at high-intermediate and higher levels, there’s a consideration that trumps everything else by a large amount: motivation. It’s hard to keep on exposing yourself to a different language day in and day out, every other factor pales in comparison.
So, get anything that gets you interested and forget all the rest. If you like articles, go read them and don’t worry about assumed advantages or disadvantages with respect to vocabulary, etc. If you like novels, go read novels. If you enjoy beginning novels but get bored after a few chapters, go get a new one, and so on.
For some reason, I tend to concentrate in novels when I’m learning a language but mostly read articles/non-fiction in languages that I already feel very comfortable in. In my current target language (Russian) i began with lessons, then moved to podcasts, then I began a few novels, not going beyond a few chapters and finally I’ve read four whole novels and I’m halfway through a fifth one at the moment. For a few weeks now, I’ve gone back to intermediate-level podcasts, that I combine with the reading of novels. This time I listen to them before reading them, for oral comprehension practice.
I also watch movies on a regular basis.
In general, the content I use changes over time, mostly according to my current interests and goals. I think this is much better than trying to stick to some pre-determine content category based on its vocabulary or stylle characteristics.

I’ve written above about how, IMO, motivation’s the main factor. Having said that, I do agree with you @t_harangi about the advantages of novels. Maybe that’s why I tend to gravitate towards them at high-intermediate levels. Variety of styles is especially important for me. One example is the use of second-person forms. You’ll encounter them pretty seldom in non-fiction articles, whereas they’re extremely important in conversations. Novels typically content a great deal of dialogue that more closely reflect everyday conversation.
Again, the main factor is your own goals. Some people don’t care much about conversation but focus on scientific or political information. However, I would argue that most learners want to talk with native speakers, at least eventually. For them, novels may be more useful.
I do understand your emphasis on the potential availability of audio versions for many novels. However, I differ here because, after reaching a high enough level, I prefer to read some content (mostly novels) but listen to different material (youtube videos, movies, …). That is, I tend to consider the audio+transcript material more as a beginner setup. I like to challenge myself to try and understand audio for which I have no transcript. Of course, that entails accepting that I may not be able to understand it completely but I think that’s also something you need to get used to as a language learner.


I am not but I wanted to hear other peoples opinions to help decide which direction to take my reading in the near future. Focusing on one novel or covering multiple articles. I am the kind of person who would rather focus on one thing at a time and I’m not sure once beginning a novel that I could deviate from that and divide my time to accommodate articles. I also tend to prefer reading many articles a day in English (My native language) rather than novels although most are political, scientific, technological or historical in nature and I think I should have explained that better as most people here probably are only thinking of current world news but you aren’t likely to cover such a wide scope of content through novels (politics, science, history, technology) I meant more academic articles rather than media or celebrity focused content.

Contrasting that to what most people read as a first novel - Harry Potter etc It seemed to me that articles would be superior for this stage of learning but now, I am not sure. It’s interesting to hear other people’s opinions to help advance my own.

I’m sure one can find more in depth articles and editorials if one looks for them. And I’m sure there are some sources with audio narration as well – though I haven’t seen those for the more in depth articles. But in a general sense, journalistic writing aims to be more simple and straight forward – not that there is anything wrong with that. It serves a different purpose.

As a language learner, reading articles definitely has a place and I’m in no way arguing against them. I’m simply pointing out that they bare no comparison to working with novels as far as learning impact is concerned.

1 Like

I also tend to prefer reading articles instead of novels even in my native language. I love reading short stories - short novels. I don’t get distracted because they are short and easy to follow. Victor Hugo had created 400 different characters in his famous novel “Les Misérables”! Biographies are also interesting stuffs to read. This website contains Andersen’s stories and different translations of them. I read this one today. This kind of things help me to improve my German. Des Kaisers neue Kleider

However, @t-harangi mentioned above, teaching potential of articles are not as much high as of novels. Still, I think that classic, archaic novels don’t really help language learners. A modern, short, interesting novel is the best source of learning for me.

Articles are better for beginners and intermediates. I can read 80% of an article whereas I can’t even get close to that for a book. Everything has their place. If one’s expectation is to jump straight into books, they’ll be severely discouraged for a while.

Heck, a good way to learn native content is to read recipes.

I much prefer novels if my level in that language is good enough.

I find novels more engaging and I love getting into them. Though perhaps my main reason, which I haven’t seen mentioned yet, is a practical one: that you only need to find one document to get a large number of words / reading hours out of it. If you read an article, after you’ve finished you have to find another one, then another one, then another one etc to really read a significant amount. I find that I lack the motivation to keep looking for articles day after day, but if I find a good book (just like in my L1), then I’m hooked and I will read every day. I just read six books in Spanish on kindle while walking the Camino de Santiago. I would have never had the patience, or desire, or the Internet connectivity, to find and read however many articles I would have needed to match what I actually read.


I’d venture to say that novels are actually better for beginners than articles. Why? Because it’a a lot easier to find pairings for comparative reading in two languages as opposed to articles.

There are people who start from scratch, learning a language by the sole means of comparative reading with audiobooks.

You can’t easily do that kind of comparative reading with a news article. There are exceptions, I know – Huffington Post will often post the same blog or editorial in multiple languages on their multiple international editions – but that’s the only place I’ve seen that does that. However, it’s very easy to find multiple editions of a translated book on Amazon.

Good points. However, you did say yourself that articles have simpler content (less engaging, but to a novice, does it matter?) and shorter term engagement. I think reading simple texts as a novice should suffice and one shouldn’t worry about having content rich material, just as long as it’s interesting enough to stay motivated.

I do agree novels have more translations available, which are valuable for people just starting out, because I used translations from time to time when I started out with LingQ. After someone gets past Beginner 1, translations become a crutch.