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June 2016

Most Translated Books in the World

Learning a New Language with the World’s Most Famous Books

Reading is fundamental for the progress of language learning. While conversation is great, it’s through reading that we get exposed to a wide variety of vocabulary. However, it can be difficult to find the right books to use for studying a new language. Some books are too complicated (think Dante’s Inferno for those studying Italian) and may not have real-world benefits when it comes to learning for communication. Thankfully, we can easily find some of the world’s most popular books translated into numerous languages around the world.

According to INGCO International, a translation agency, the most translated book in the world is The Bible. With 469 translations, it’s easily the most translated text in human history. But for those looking for something useful for language learning, The Bible can be a daunting resource. Ideally, a beginning or intermediate language learner should seek text that is not too difficult or antiquated, as highly complex works can lead to discouragement.

There are easier books on the list: Pinocchio (260 translations), The Little Prince (180), Andersen’s Fairy Tales (153), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (97), and The Adventures of Tintin (96). The relative simplicity of these texts make them ideal for language students. That they are widely available in multiple languages means that more language students can benefit from their availability, as well as the translations in a student’s native language.

The Little Prince is a particularly good book for language students as it’s famous around the world, inspiring even a play and a film. Written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, it's a classic that follows the whimsical adventures of a young prince. Finding the book in multiple languages is not difficult, especially via the Internet or even at airport bookstores. Its ubiquitous nature and small size make the book less costly than others.

Andersen’s Fairy Tales is another good option as it's a collection of short stories, making it easier to use as a study resource. With famous stories like "The Little Mermaid", "The Ugly Duckling", and "Thumbelina", many readers around the world ought to already be familiar with his tales. Similarly, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Pinocchio are more accessible as they are well known worldwide.

Other great options include the Harry Potter series and The Alchemist. Both are widely available in other languages around the world. Getting captivated in a long series or a philosophically stimulating story can make the difference in helping to propel language learning endeavors.

A particularly helpful language tip is to find either a dual language text or to also purchase these books in one’s native language. Having both translations makes going through the target language translation much faster. Stopping to look up unknown words can make the reading process very frustrating. As students, a big goal is to lower the barriers of studying and to make it fun.

What are your favorite books to use for language study? What is your advice for other language learners? Let us know on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more language learning articles!

Picture: (c) Fotolia, connel_design