harry-potter-language-learning

How to Use "Harry Potter" to Learn More Languages Than Just Parseltongue

Expecto Learnonum!

Okay, maybe that’s not a real spell, but it should be.

After all, “Harry Potter” can help you learn languages, and we’re not just talking about Parseltongue.

Of all the language learning books on the market, it’s possible that none will charm you quite like the boy wizard can.

You don’t even have to settle for just reading the books. With audiobooks and movies out there, too, your learning options are nearly as limitless as your powers should you possess the legendary Elder Wand.

So it’s time to cast a spell on your language learning! Here’s all you need to know to improve your language skills with “Harry Potter.”

Learn a foreign language with videos

Why Use “Harry Potter” for Language Learning?

First of all, “Harry Potter” is available in a wide variety of languages. In fact, “Harry Potter” books are available in a total of 80 languages, ranging from widely spoken languages like French and Spanish to less common languages like Hawaiian. You’re unlikely to find many novels published in more languages than “Harry Potter.”

Plus, the plot will be familiar to Potter fans, so you don’t need to rely as heavily on your language skills. Because you already know the story, “Harry Potter” can read more like an easy language book than other novels at its approximate difficulty level. And if you’re not needing to focus as heavily on following the plot, you can dedicate your focus more to understanding the language.

Not only that, the “Harry Potter” series will familiarize you with some less common terms that you’re unlikely to encounter in your normal study routine. “Wizard,” “werewolf,” “unicorn” and more. While those words are fairly recognizable in English, there’s a strong chance that even advanced language students don’t know them in their target languages because they simply haven’t had a need for them yet.

However, “Harry Potter” makes extensive use of some terms that you may be familiar with in English but not your target language, making it an excellent way to expand your vocabulary (and infuse it with a little magical fun).

Reading “Harry Potter” in another language also gives you fun bragging rights. Reading books in your native language is cool, but reading books in your target language is much cooler. And with so many Potterheads out there, chances are that someone you know will be super impressed by your accomplishment. But be warned: They may ask you to share their favorite spells in your target language.

As an added bonus, the books get more difficult as you go. If you aren’t terribly familiar with reading in a foreign language, it can be challenging at first. Luckily, since the “Harry Potter” books start out relatively easy before getting increasingly challenging, your skills will improve as the reading level of the books increases. You can think of it as the earlier books giving you the reading practice you need to prepare you for the later books.

How to Get the Most out of Your “Harry Potter” Language Learning Experience

Use multiple versions of “Harry Potter”

There are plenty of versions of “Harry Potter” available. You might read the books, listen to the audiobooks or watch the movies.

And don’t worry: You won’t need to use a sorting hat to choose just one to which you’ll be permanently bound. Instead, use as many versions of “Harry Potter” as you can.

Reading “Harry Potter” can give you valuable reading practice. The audiobooks give you excellent listening practice that you can enjoy anywhere. The movies also give you listening practice with the added benefit of giving you a visual context to help understand any words or phrases you don’t immediately recognize.

When it comes to learning a language with “Harry Potter,” you can’t go wrong with any of the available options, even if the movies do omit some valuable plots and scenes that definitely, definitely should have made the cut. (Not that we’re bitter!)

Go through each book/movie in order

Reading, listening or watching out of order can obviously be confusing. But beyond that, reading, listening or watching in order is a valuable way for language learners to prepare themselves for what’s next in the series.

The books become increasingly advanced. The movies get increasingly dark. All in all, starting at the very beginning is an important way to ease yourself into the Wizarding World in your target language.

Plus, starting at the beginning can familiarize you with magical vocabulary before the plots get more complex. You don’t want to be trying to learn tricky vocabulary when you have to give your full focus to the Battle of Hogwarts!

Have an English copy of the work handy for reference

Having an English version of “Harry Potter” handy can make reading, listening or watching infinitely less intimidating. The two works can act sort of like dual-language children’s books—you can do as much as possible in your target language, but if things get a little overwhelming, you have your trusted English version at the your fingertips to clarify things.

Plus, let’s be real: The goddess J.K. Rowling made up an awful lot of words and phrases. In your native language, you can adjust to these. However, in your target language, you might not be sure when a word or phrase is invented versus when you just don’t have it in your foreign vocabulary yet. Having an English copy handy can help you read through any tricky scenes in English to deduce which words and phrases are made up.

Maintain a special vocabulary list to keep track of unfamiliar words

Don’t let a rogue bludger throw your reading off track! Maintain a list of unfamiliar words. Better yet, consider two separate lists.

One list should focus on Potter-specific words, like Quidditch vocabulary, spells, potions and charms. These words won’t necessarily benefit your vocabulary in your target language. However, maintaining your own reference list can save you time when you encounter this vocabulary again.

The second list should focus on vocabulary in your target language that does exist outside of the Wizarding World, like mythical creatures, magical terms and any other unfamiliar vocabulary you encounter. Then, you can look up these words in a dictionary for a more precise definition and study the terms so that you never forget them.

After you’ve finished one book or movie, create a flashcard deck for it so you can review all the new vocabulary you’ve learned.

harry-potter-language-learning

Looking for a unique flashcard resource? Check out FluentU

For the most part, FluentU is known for its authentic language videos. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

But FluentU is also known for its interactive flashcard decks. Flashcards provide you with example sentences, dynamic games, relevant images, audio pronunciation examples, usage examples and more.

This unique twist on the traditional flashcard will keep you more riveted than the Marauder’s Map.

Study with FluentU flashcards on your web browser or, better yet, download the app at the iTunes store or Google Play store to take your flashcards with you!

Read/write reviews and summaries in your target language

Your language learning doesn’t need to stop when the books, audiobooks and/or movies end! Since “Harry Potter” is so popular, you can keep your language learning on a roll by reading and writing reviews in your target language.

“Harry Potter” has fans all over the world, so by searching the title in your target language, you can generally find a website where users can post reviews. Read what others have to say about your favorite work, or better yet, write your own review or summary to get valuable writing practice that employs some of the awesome vocabulary you just learned.

More Fun Than Quidditch: “Harry Potter” Language Learning

The “Harry Potter” Books

The benefits of learning with the “Harry Potter” books

The books of “Harry Potter” are available in a massive variety of languages and are one of the best “Harry Potter” learning tools out there.

They’re particularly ideal for language learners who have already read the novels in English. This way, you’ll already know what happens and when.

One major benefit of learning a language with the “Harry Potter” novels is that they’re readily available. You don’t have to shop internationally to purchase them, and while they’re pricier than the English-language editions, they aren’t prohibitively expensive.

Foreign language “Harry Potter” books are often available in print editions, which provide some additional opportunities for language learning. For instance, whenever you don’t know a word and need to look it up, write its meaning in the margins of the page. That way, the next time you read through the book, if you’ve forgotten a word, you’ll already have its meaning handy.

You might also want to dogear pages with your favorite quotations and underline them. Then, you can go back through and memorize your favorite lines. Not only will this be a cool party trick, it can also give you valuable models for grammar rules. Plus, you can never know Dumbledore’s quotable wisdom in too many languages.

E-books are also widely available, meaning you can start reading immediately and have the convenience of reading on your favorite device (which may or may not also have a handy translator on it). Plus, these e-books are usually more affordable than print copies.

For the sake of this list, we’ve linked to the “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”/”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for each language. From there, you can generally find the subsequent novels in the “Customers who bought this item also bought” section. You can also find additional novels by searching “Harry Potter” and the name of your target language.

When available, we’ve also included the complete set.

Where to find the “Harry Potter” books in foreign languages

Pottermore

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Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s digital company, is an unbeatable source for “Harry Potter” e-books in a huge array of languages.

The Pottermore website also makes browsing by language easy. Simply select your language from the “book language” drop down menu to see books in your target language. Not all the books are available in all of the languages. However, you might also hit the jackpot and find that your target language also has the complete set of books available.

Barnes & Noble

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Barnes & Noble may not be the most popular online bookseller, but if you’re unsure of what language or languages you want to buy the “Harry Potter” books in, Barnes & Noble is much easier to browse than other vendors (we’re giving you the side-eye, Amazon).

In fact, all the foreign language “Harry Potter” editions are grouped together on one page. Barnes & Noble offers a mixture of hard copy and downloadable NOOK books, and most of the prices are quite affordable.

Amazon

harry-potter-language-learning

You’ve got to love shopping on Amazon, particularly for the great prices! Here are links to editions in multiple languages:

Arabic – “هاري بوتر وحجر الفيلسوف”

Chinese – “哈利波特-神秘的魔法石”

French – “Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers”

The complete set is also available in French if you already know you’re going to love it.

German – “Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen”

Don’t worry! The complete set is also available in German.

Italian – “Harry Potter e la pietra filosofale”

You can also purchase the complete set of books in Italian.

Japanese – “ハリーポッターと賢者の石”

The complete set of “Harry Potter” books is available in Japanese.

Korean – “해리포터와 마법사의 돌”

Portuguese – “Harry Potter e a Pedra Filosofal”

You can also enjoy the complete set in Portuguese.

Russian – “Гарри Поттер и философский камень”

The complete set of books is also available in Russian. But can we just take a moment to observe the fact that Harry’s name is “Gary” in Russian? Okay, sure, that’s just how the name is translated, but it does change the feel a little.

Spanish – “Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal”

If you can’t get enough of “Harry Potter” in Spanish, consider buying the complete set.

The “Harry Potter” Audiobooks

The benefits of learning with the “Harry Potter” audiobooks

“Harry Potter” audiobooks are another terrific learning option.

Because they’re oral readings of the books, they’re longer and feature more vocabulary than the movies. Plus, you can enjoy them hands free, making them a great companion for your next road trip or flight.

To get the most out of listening to a “Harry Potter” audiobook, consider giving each chapter your full attention the first time you listen. Replay passages you don’t understand until you can make out each word. Then, jot down any words you don’t know and look them up in a dictionary. You might even keep a copy of the printed book handy and read along as you listen so that you have an easier time understanding exactly what’s being said.

Once you’ve dissected the chapter fully, listen to it again whenever you like. Since you’ve already familiarized yourself with the material, you’ll have an easier time understanding the spoken language.

The main downside of “Harry Potter” audiobooks is that they aren’t as readily available as the novels themselves, so you won’t have quite as many language options to choose from. Again, for each language available, we’ve linked to the first work in the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”/”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” However, other works in the series are also available.

Where to find the “Harry Potter” audiobooks in foreign languages

Pottermore

J.K. Rowling is back at it again with her awesome website. Pottermore makes it easy to acquire audiobooks of “Harry Potter” in 10 different languages, including French, German, Italian and Japanese. You can browse the entire collection of foreign language audiobooks or filter by your language of choice.

Once you purchase an audiobook, you can download it to your favorite device for easy listening. But be warned: the audiobooks are much pricier than the e-books.

Other Resources

French – “Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers”

German – “Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen”

Italian – “Harry Potter e la pietra filosofale”

Japanese – “ハリーポッターと賢者の石”

This audiobook is available through the Japanese Audible page, so you’ll need some Japanese skills to navigate.

Portuguese – “Harry Potter e a Pedra Filosofal”

Russian – “Гарри Поттер и философский камень”

This Russian audiobook is available through a Russian language website, so you’ll need to use your Russian skills to get to the goods. But your hard work will pay off: You can listen to audio of the entire book (and subsequent novels) for free!

Spanish – “Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal”

The “Harry Potter” Movies

The benefits of learning with the “Harry Potter” movies

“Harry Potter” movies can bring you hours of enjoyment and valuable language learning material.

But while the “Harry Potter” movies are available dubbed into a wide array of languages, you’ll need to work a little harder to get your hands on them. Most of these options are only available abroad, which means you’ll have to either pick up DVDs on your travels or order them online and have them shipped internationally. Sometimes, you might need to use your language skills just to purchase the DVD.

However, once you’ve used the accio charm to make the DVDs yours, there are plenty of great ways to use them for language learning.

One fun way is to have a viewing party with your language learning friends. First, watch a movie in English, then watch it in your target language. This way, it will still be fresh in your mind, making it easier to understand. And with eight “Harry Potter” movies, you’ll have plenty of material to keep your weekends full of learning fun.

Where to find the “Harry Potter” movies in foreign languages

Chinese – “哈利波特-神秘的魔法石”

French – “Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers”

Want a fun learning resource you can use right away? This YouTube playlist is designed to help French students learn from “Harry Potter” clips.

German – “Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen”

Italian – “Harry Potter e la pietra filosofale”

Japanese – “ハリーポッターと賢者の石”

Korean – “해리포터와 마법사의 돌”

Portuguese – “Harry Potter e a Pedra Filosofal”

Russian – “Гарри Поттер и философский камень”

You can also buy the complete set of movies for DVD or Blu-Ray

Spanish – “Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal”

Guess what? You might already have the Spanish dubbed DVD in your collection! That’s because this widescreen edition comes with Spanish dubbing and subtitles. Just adjust your settings and enjoy!

 

Whether you’re a full-blood, half-blood or muggle, “Harry Potter” might be just the magic you need to make your language skills soar like you just got a new Nimbus 2000.

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