How to learn a language without translating

One of the major mistakes you can do when starting to learn a foreign language is to translate everything back into your native language. This means there will always be a delay in your speech. It could also mean lots of errors are introduced due to different grammar, possession, word order etc.

If you learn pronunciation first before meaning then you will learn what you are reading in your target language rather than your native language. This will help enormously with your comprehension and communication.

However when learning a language like Greek, finding something with subtitles to go along with your audiobook is like finding a needle in a haystack. YouTube has plenty of music videos, audiobooks, news reports, chat shows etc but very rarely do they come with closed captioning. Overdrive is an app that you can use to get access to digital resources from your local library but they don’t tend to have foreign books. They have umpteen language courses but if you want something relaxing you are again stuck. Overdrive allows you to have multiple libraries stored in your app so you have access to a wide variety of resources and they have a new app called Libby too. This however does not fix your problem. So I suggest going onto EBay to buy a Greek version of Harry Potter to go along with the audio book that is on YouTube. Victoria Hislop is another idea along with Nikos Kazantzakis and The Little Prince.

Best wishes


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Athena Minerva

A place for me to write about things that concern myself and the world around me. Please check out my page on Amazon after you have finished my blog or drop me a line at

17 thoughts on “How to learn a language without translating”

  1. Great books! I think it’s helpful when you have read them in your own language first (depending on your level). I tried reading The little prince in Chinese, but it proofed too hard for me. Is there something like “graded readers” for Greek? So you can read articles or stories suited for your level? They are a great help for Mandarin.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So they come without audio? That’s a pity. That’s a problem with a lot of Chinese graded readers too, though some apps have integrated this google text to audio thing. A human voice is preferable though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes that is a major problem I have faced. I have written extensively about my struggles to learn languages and I’m almost at the end of the road without achieving my goal. It’s sad but I have tried my best. You can’t ask any more of a person.


  2. Learning to speak and learning to write a new language are an entirely different learning process. As an introvert. I would argue the latter should often precede the former to build confidence for speaking in actual social settings. Fluency matters most.

    Liked by 1 person

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