Old books

A friend of mine thinks that to read old books, in order to learn English, doesn’t help because they’re old-fashioned. With old books I mean books such as Charles Dickens’, Arthur Conan Doyle’s etc.

I use these because they’re available as audiobooks, which means that I can listen to the reader on my MP3 player, while reading on my Ipad , and because they’re available as e-books as well. Needless to say that these books are available free of charge.

I think that my friend’s wrong, because these books help me improving listening skills and pronunciation, which is crucial for my learning process.

Do you have any opinion about these old-fashioned books?

Judicious use of classics is a great way of getting to know a language. As for the archaic or simply formal language used, the minute the translation or hint for a word is v difficult to find, it is a good indicator that it doesn’t belong to colloquial language.

I believe your focus on improving listening and pronunciation will make up for any slightly less useful vocab you may pick up. (On the other hand, you never know when a word will come in useful. I can still dazzle myself with some of the archaic English (and sometimes even French) words I know. In those moments it’s a pleasure recalling where I came across them in the first place.)

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Reading old books in your mother tongue does not mean you use the old phrases in your every day life.

If your level is good enough to read books, it is way better than to read many small texts and much more fun. Last year I bought a kindle and I downloaded many ebooks, my vocabulary have increased hugely. There is even a resource to help language learners but sadly it is only for English. I did some much reading that English books are just as easy as the Portuguese ones, in the toefl reading score I got 29 out of 30.

Congratulations! I am an English teacher and I teach TOEFL preparation sometimes and the TOEFL is exceptionally difficult.

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No, but that’s because in your L1 you recognise these words instantly as out-of-date phrases, regardless of whether you knew them previously or not. In your L2, you are trying to acquire new vocabulary, so I can certainly see how reading books that are centuries old could have negative consequences. If you see a word or phrase that you don’t know, and you look it up, you might then start using that word or phrase without realising that it’s no longer used by native speakers.

I love using old books for language learning. Russian, French, Spanish, Czech, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, nothing like the classics. Love the exotic other world atmosphere, and in language learning you should learn from content you enjoy. The language you learn there can only be beneficial for your language development in general.


I also was luck because I got subjects that I like such as those more scientific, if I got the philosophical ones, man I would be screwed.

Lovely to hear that you’re an English teacher, @jungleboy! I’d like your expertise regarding differents levels in English. What an intermediate 2 level allows one to be able to manage in English?

Thank you sir! I’ll definitely stick with my old books. I’ve to add that the readers have wonderful voices to listen to.