Dual texts, or bilingual texts, are texts that appear side by side in two different languages. Most language learners consider them useful as they give you the possibility to explore literature in your target language before you actually reach the point where you can read texts independantly. Dual texts can be used at any stage of the learning, depending on their difficulty, and the way one uses them. These are some suggestions on how to work with dual texts. They are however only that, suggestions.
The suggestions go from beginner to intermediate to advanced.
- Read one sentence/one paragraph/one page in your native or near native language, then the equivalent in your target language.
— This gives you the benefit of knowing the meaning before you encounter it in your target language. You are already expecting something, and the sentences will make more sense with less effort.
- Read one one sentence/one paragraph/one page in your target language, then the equivalent in your native or near native language.
— This makes you think a little bit more. After reading that first sentence, do try and understand it by yourself first, do not jump to the translation the second you finish reading. When you are at the point where you can read a whole page and then look at the translation, the translation will be more a way of simply seeing if you got it all right. The next step from there is, of course, to start reading books only in your target language.
Dual texts are excellent for acquiring new vocabulary without the sometimes tedious exercise of looking every single word up in a dictionary. Do not focus too much on single words, instead try thinking of it as reading any book. It is the story you are after, forget that you are supposedly "studying". You are enjoying a good book, it's as simple as that!
Where can you find them? Edit
Some publishers offer dual language books, and good ways of finding them is searching for the words "dual language", "bilingual edition" or something similar. For example, the French publisher Folio offers several Russian novels in French/Russian editions, called simply "Folio Bilingue", and similar things can be found for most "common" languages. Duallanguagebooks.com offers some, either as printed copies or as free downloads and Dover Publications has a fair amount of books (search for "dual-language"), that can also be found in other internet bookstores.
Dualtexts.com is a free bilingual Spanish and English Magazine that has up-to-date articles displayed in a parallel format.
However, if you cannot find the book you want, you can always edit it yourself in Word or another text editor (provided you have the text in two languages), using tables and either dividing paragraphs into cells (this can be done methodically) or by aligning paragraphs in a single column. Older works of literature that no longer fall under copyright can easily be found on the internet. Project Gutenberg is one place one can look.
Dual texts are of great use with accompanying audio if one wants to try the Listening-Reading Method.