Reading the Same Book in More Languages? What do you Think?

I was wondering, what do you think about reading+listening the same book in more/all languages that we are learning?

This has been mentioned here and there as a possible strategy. Have you done it?

What do you think are the pros and cons of this tactic?


EDIT: not specifically bilingual/parallel books side by side but just the same book that we really like. R+L in different languages and eventually repeat them over time.


I personally am not a fan of this at all. On the positive side, you will be able to follow the story more easily since you already read the book in a different language. On the other hand, I think it is a shame not to read a book originating from the country whose language you’re learning.

I believe in cultural immersion and since I am learning Korean, I only want to read Korean novels and couldn’t care less about reading Harry Potter in that language.

With Lingq, no one needs to wait until they are absolutely fluent to start tackling native material. You just need to progress step by step: start with short stories, move on to young adult fiction, then adult fiction.

Others will disagree, but this is my stance on the question.


I take it you mean reading it in parallel at the same time? I guess for me that would be too little novelty. I am, however, a fan of re-reading favorites in a new language. Obviously the best case is when it’s the original language (say, Victor Hugo in French, Dostoyevski in Russian, Sapkowski (Witchter) in Polish…), but I’m not above reading a translation.

It’s a stereotypical choice, but I have set the semi-serious long-term goal of reading all the Harry Potter books, switching language each volume :smiley: 1 down (Philosopher’s Stone, in Russian), 2 in progress (Chamber of Secrets, in Ukrainian; Prisoner of Azkaban, in Persian - I got impatient :D).


This video may answer your curiosity. Watch the whole video.


This is actually how I usually learn languages. After going through some textbook, I like to read Harry Potter. I really like the story and know it very well. It has over 1,000,000 words, and I’ve had the experience that after reading it, I have no big problems anymore reading any other book (at least on LingQ). It takes me about 3-4 months to read it, and usually takes my reading proficiency from A2 to a solid B2. It is also always interesting to see how things are expressed differently in different languages.

While you can do this with any book you like and know (well), the advantage of Harry Potter is that it is long (hence lots of repetition, idiolect), that it is written for children/teenagers (so neither too difficult nor too boring), and that it gets progressively more difficult (the audience grew up with the main characters, and the language gets slightly more difficult correspondingly, I feel).

That being said, if you don’t like Harry Potter or just really don’t like rereading books, I don’t think it is advisable… Input should be as enjoyable as possible after all. Also, I only do this with Harry Potter, afterwards I read new books I have never seen before.


Yes, this is probably one of the most powerful techniques if you want to become polyliterate. I tend to feel that working with bilingual texts is superior to single word lookups, at least at the beginner to intermediate stages because it reduces cognitive load. It’s also especially helpful when learning multiple languages at the same time. The “classical” approach would be to read the book first in your native language, but it might even be more beneficial to read it in one of your better (learned) languages first.
There are some variations:

  • comparing the two versions at the sentence level (like in sentence mode or in an Assimil manual)
  • reading the chapters back-to-back, first in your better / native language and then in your target language
  • reading the entire book

What I found particularly interesting was to compare Harry Potter in two related languages (Romanian and Portuguese) by reading the chapters back-to-back.
As for downsides, depending on the language the selection might be limited and, of course, there is such a thing as too much Harry…


I think it sounds like it would be great. I just don’t personally like to re-read most books. Just like I’d rather watch a new movie.

One possibility, in that case, would be to maybe read a series. One book in one language, the next book in another language, next book back to the first language. While you don’t know the exact story, many of the same characters and environments and vocabulary will come up again most likely.


Translated content has drawbacks as it lacks cultural context and may not always reflect the way that a native would express ideas, depending on the translation.

However, I think the biggest benefit of translated content you are familiar with, is that you can more easily expand your effective time with the language even from an intermediate level. I might only be able to spend 30 minutes or so on LingQ a day, but with translated material it is much easier to follow the content and reinforce what I learned while listening and doing dishes, mowing the lawn, commuting, etc for another hour or two a day. Also, if I lose the thread of what is being spoken about, I’m not completely lost because I already know the story, and I can tune back in more easily.


Thank you everybody, I like to read all these different approaches to take ideas from. They are all valuable.

I’ve been just thinking about it in a more pragmatic way, doing vocabulary, focusing on grammar and other stuff while reading and repeating the same material that we really have a real love or interested for it, in multiple languages and then move on to another one. I do have a few other reasons for it.

For our curiosity, here is what ChatGPT says about it:

Reading the same book in different languages can be a valuable learning strategy for language acquisition. It offers several pros and cons, which I’ll outline below:


  1. Vocabulary Expansion: Reading the same book in different languages exposes you to a variety of vocabulary words and phrases. You can compare the translations and learn new words and expressions in context, thereby expanding your vocabulary in both languages.

  2. Reinforcement of Language Structures: By reading the same book in multiple languages, you encounter similar sentence structures and grammar patterns. This repetition helps reinforce your understanding of grammar rules and sentence construction.

  3. Cultural Insights: Different languages often have distinct cultural nuances and perspectives. Reading the same book in different languages allows you to gain insights into the cultural aspects and linguistic nuances specific to each language, enhancing your understanding of the culture associated with the language.

  4. Improved Reading Comprehension: Reading in multiple languages improves your overall reading comprehension skills. Comparing the same story in different languages helps you grasp the meaning of the text and develop a deeper understanding of the author’s intentions.

  5. Language Transfer: When you read the same book in different languages, you can transfer your knowledge and understanding from one language to another. This cross-linguistic transfer helps you make connections between languages and can facilitate language learning.


  1. Language Proficiency Limitation: If you have a low proficiency level in one of the languages, reading the same book in that language may be challenging and frustrating. It can hinder comprehension and impede the learning process.

  2. Translation Differences: Translations can vary in quality and accuracy, which means that the same book in different languages may not always convey the exact same meaning. This can lead to confusion and potential misinterpretations.

  3. Limited Exposure to Diverse Materials: While reading the same book in different languages has its benefits, it’s essential to diversify your reading materials. Relying solely on one book may limit your exposure to different writing styles, genres, and topics.

  4. Time and Effort: Reading the same book in multiple languages requires time and effort. It can be a lengthy process, especially if you’re not yet proficient in one of the languages. This could slow down your overall language learning progress.

  5. Lack of Contextual Variety: While reading the same story can be helpful for reinforcement, it may lack the diversity of contexts and genres that you would encounter by reading different books. Exposure to various types of literature can enrich your language skills.

In summary, reading the same book in different languages can provide valuable benefits such as vocabulary expansion, reinforcement of language structures, cultural insights, improved reading comprehension, and language transfer. However, it’s important to be aware of the limitations, such as language proficiency constraints, potential translation differences, limited exposure to diverse materials, the time and effort required, and the lack of contextual variety. It is often beneficial to combine this approach with other language learning strategies to achieve a well-rounded language proficiency.


Yes, if it holds your interest and you are happy to meet the characters again.
“The Little Prince” works for me like this (French and Greek). Actually language and word range is much greater than I had expected.
Also Harry Potter.
For difficult languages, knowing the story helps me greatly.


I was wondering, why so many people use Harry Potter? :thinking:

Other than people seem to like it…On the pottermore website you could get the book translated in many different languages. Also they were DRM free (good for Lingq).


It’s a series that my generation (which I think is not too far off from yours?) read in our formative years, and which left a strong impression. It is famous for being translated into nearly all languages of the world. Mentions of the translation in other languages in journalism and later online were among my first bits of exposure to the idea of the same thing being expressed in different languages.

And for me personally, the last book in the series was my very first book in a foreign language (English), when I decided I didn’t want to wait around for the German translation that took another few months longer, and I gathered my courage to try it in English with my trusty dictionary if and when needed. I wouldn’t be surprised if others had a similar experience.

Incidentally, that experience is what convinced me that Steve Kaufmann and LingQ were onto something: it’s the same thing I did with English, only much more convenient.


Don’t have time to read the answers here so others may have said the same things but…

I especially like to do it when I have a language I am not far along in, where I’m a beginner or low-intermediate and I have already read the material in a language I had good understanding of. Then already knowing what the story says helps me understand. If I am fairly advanced in the language, I am not as keen on doing it, because already knowing what it says may make it boring to me and I may zone out.

I consider re-reading material to be just another way of making input comprehensible and I will write about it when I write my little book on how I learned my languages.


How do you find interesting content for yourself?

Lately, I am too neutral to anything and yet I want to learn how to read in English. Maybe I can stick with the Harry Potter in my native language + Harry Potter in English approach.

Do you think finishing Harry Potter series make me comprehend more English in a general way? I have been consuming English content seriously for more than six months on Youtube and I want to improve it more by reading.

My problem is finding a compelling input lately. I am like a stone who can’t get interest anything lately…

How do you find interesting content for yourself?

Oh, I was reading it and you seemed to delete it :smiley:

Because I realised I wasn’t adressing your question and instead had replied to the OP again.

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I do this a lot, currently reading The Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson in Swedish and Slovak, have it in Czech next. It is good to pick books which give a good description of life in general in each of your languages. So I think something like a diary book (Adrian Mole) would be good in most languages as it takes you through the process of development, a phase language lessons don´t often teach you.

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If you´re learning English just use wikipedia or search in English for anything you need to know. You can import pretty much every web page into lingq so it can´t be hard to constantly be picking up new words.

How do you keep your attention EABurgess. I mean don’t you get bored of reading the same content?

I have just read Harry Potter in my native language then I read it in English. Since I have learned the story, I acquired some vocabularies faster. I guess it works but the only problem might be boredom for me.