Why Kindle Unlimited is my (current) favourite language learning tool

Hi, guys! Hope your Mondays went well! I spent mine exploring London (I just moved here yesterday) and applying for a bunch of jobs, so it’s been… productive.

Okay, so the post. I spent today mulling over what I could write about – what with the move and everything, I didn’t get much done at the weekend or last week – and then it struck me: I just decided to pay for Kindle Unlimited after enjoying a free trial, and in my opinion, it’s great for language learning.

A Quick Caveat…

Obviously, for many people, their main aim with language learning is to gain the ability to speak at a certain level. Reading isn’t important for everyone and I do agree that if you learn to speak and have a basic reading competence, then you can get almost anything done in your target language.

However, we all know that I love reading and I am definitely one of the people who places more emphasis on that than on speaking – especially now that I’m going back to university. Therefore, this post is going to help you if that’s a skill you want to learn or improve upon. If you’re just interested in learning to speak, then you’ll maybe want to go somewhere else. Try this post, or this one. They’re both fun. 😉

What is Kindle Unlimited?

kindle-unlimited

Okay, so first things first, what am I even talking about?

For those of you who don’t know: Kindle Unlimited is a subscription-based programme from Amazon. You pay £7.99 a month (or €9.99) and then you have access to all the books within that programme – including, for example, the Harry Potter series. You can have up to ten of these books at a time; it works a little like a library in that you don’t own the books, though if you like one, you could always buy it.

The reason I like Kindle Unlimited more than my actual (free) local library for e-books is two-fold: one, Kindle Unlimited has a better selection of e-books, and two, I don’t have to wait for anyone else to return a book I want. (For physical paperback books, I still hit up my library, though not as often as I used to.)

What’s this got to do with language learning?

I got a gift voucher when I left Austria, from my colleagues – an Amazon gift voucher, to be precise. The fun way that Amazon works meant that I had to activate my .co.uk account as a .de account to spend the money and, because I wanted to spend it on Kindle books, I had to change my country.

While I was doing that, I had a little poke around at Kindle Unlimited and realised I could do a 30-day trial. Great, I thought, and set it up.

It was amazing. A little difficult to navigate at first, but because I was on the .de site, I suddenly had access to all these German books. I could look at the bestseller lists for books that German speakers were actually buying (as opposed to the foreign language books in the .co.uk store, which have more books aimed at learners as bestsellers) and choose things that a native speaker would enjoy. (And they weren’t costing as much as German e-books usually do…)

So, I had access to all these German books for free. So what?

Well, there are plenty of other countries and authors involved in Kindle Unlimited, too. Using Harry Potter as an example, you can get all seven books in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Japanese (!), Dutch, and Danish.

Alright, but you don’t want to read Harry Potter. What then?

Well, you can try typing (language) edition in and seeing what comes up. (These are the results when I type in French edition, as an example.) You can also look through the bestseller lists for a particular category. (Here’s the French bestseller list, too.)

However, the easiest way by far (unless you want the things geared towards language-learners, which are especially helpful if you don’t feel up to a full novel yet) is to go onto a country-specific website and search there. When you find a book you like the look of, you can borrow it from your regular Amazon site.

If you’ve been looking for a cheap and easy way to read books in your target language, then this is a route I would highly recommend. It’s one of the few expenses I’ve allowed myself in the past few months because I know it’s going to be helpful in the long term.

Let me know if you’ve tried out Kindle Unlimited – or any other subscription-based service that helps you with your language learning. I’d love something similar for TV/films (Netflix doesn’t have as many languages as I’d like), so if you have recommendations, throw them my way!

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