Does it make sense to start with such books or immediately set your hand to the original? There are a lot of opinions on the Internet, so we decided to give you a simple and clear answer based on thoughts of many teachers. They had the opportunity to consider a variety of different situations in which students turned to one option or another, and drew the appropriate conclusions on the basis of each specific case. Of course, you can immediately say that, in any case, the approach should be individual, but there are certain common nuances you can find out for yourself.
Who Should Read Adapted Books?
We will not torment you: it is useful for everyone to read adapted texts of the appropriate level.
There is a myth that adapted books in English are a "pale shadow", a feeble attempt to reflect the original work. In fact, this is not so. Indeed, such books contain fewer idioms, complex metaphors, vivid comparisons and specific terms. However, the plot remains the same, and the benefit of reading does not decrease!
Some people believe that you need to start by reading books in the original, even if you just started to learn English. In most cases, it is advised to read fairy tales, children's books. However, we want to note that literature for children can contain quite a lot of vocabulary, which is not the most necessary for everyday communication (all sorts of "princesses", "fairies", "magic wands" may never be useful to you). Note also that such texts include many non-existent and strange names, and sometimes even fictitious words, which in fact do not exist. Do you think you really need this?
And if you start with the classics? Unadapted works by William Shakespeare are not easy to understand even on Upper-Intermediate level. There are a lot of those archaisms unused in modern English. This author is studied by specialists.
To read contemporaries? Good, useful, interesting, but ... It is unlikely that a Beginner or a Pre-Intermediate will be delighted with the prospect of consulting a dictionary in search of every third or fourth word. A person may dislike reading in English, or even worse, abandon the idea of learning the language on principle.
According to teachers, the optimal number of unfamiliar vocabulary in the text is about 5-15%. With such a volume of unfamiliar words, you can guess the meaning of most of them from the context, and this is much more useful and exciting than endless immersions in a dictionary. In addition, reading such text will not be difficult, you will understand what it is about, and you can get real pleasure from working with a book.
Therefore, we recommend reading adapted books in English. Please note that, usually, the book indicates the level of knowledge it corresponds to. However, we recommend viewing several pages to make sure that it suits you. There is a small secret that some book lovers know: do not examine the first pages, look at the middle of the text, as you will see there the true level of complexity and style of the author. As a rule, on the first pages, even in adapted books, the text is slightly more complicated than in the middle.
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Advantages of Adapted Books
- We see the most frequently used words. This is what "adaptation" basically consists of: rarely used complex vocabulary is replaced by a simpler one, often used by native speakers.
- The vocabulary is often attached at the end of a book. You do not need to look for additional reference books.
- After reading a chapter, you are asked to perform several tasks: you can independently check how well you catch the meaning of the read. Usually, you need to answer questions about the content, analyze the actions of the protagonist, etc. We recommend doing these tasks aloud, so at the same time, you will practice skills of oral speech.
- Understanding the text motivates for the further study of English perfectly.
When Can You Give up Reading Adapted Literature?
If you have reached the Intermediate level, you can try to read the original texts. However, do not rush to grab complex classical works. Start with books with simpler vocabulary. Lovers of more serious literature can start with small stories of Hemingway or Maugham. A plot is known to you for sure, phrases are not mind-bending, so reading will be enjoyable.
Listen to your feelings: if reading authentic literature is hard for you, come back to the adapted version. Negative emotions and a headache will not inspire you to realize new feats.
How Often Should You Look It Up in the Dictionary?
You probably heard more than once that, when reading, it is desirable to guess the meaning of the word from the context and work less with a dictionary. This so-called “method of guessing” has a beneficial effect on development in general, and on brain work in the context of current activities. However, sometimes you cannot do without it, for example, in the following situations:
- The word plays an important role in the sentence, it carries the main semantic load, and you cannot guess its meaning from the context, you have several different options. In this case, of course, it is worth looking it up in the dictionary, so as not to lose the thread of the author's reasoning.
- The word is often found in the text. From this, it can be concluded that it can be used quite often in colloquial speech of native speakers. In this case, it is better not to guess, but to know the exact meaning of the word and enrich your vocabulary.
We hope that our article on whether it is useful to read adapted books in English interested you, and you will immerse yourself in the world of fiction with pleasure. Enjoy reading!