I was skeptical about Kindles. I liked the feel of a book. The smell. I didn’t want to read on a small computer screen. No.

Well, not until I discovered that my Kindle would help me improve my second language, Spanish. Now I would recommend ANYONE who is learning a language to get one.

Here’s how a Kindle can help you improve your language.

When you are reading a book you can click on any word that you don’t understand. A dictionary appears with the definition of the word.

Cool, right? Even cooler: you can download bilingual dictionaries and select the dictionary that you want to look the word up in. So for example: I’m an English person reading a Spanish book, and I find a word I don’t understand. Click. I immediately know what this word means and I can continue reading:

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The same for a Spanish person learning English:

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Here are the dictionaries I have installed on my Kindle – all of them I downloaded for free. (You download a dictionary the same way you download a book).

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Now- it gets even better. The words that you click on are automatically saved in the Kindle’s “Vocabulary Builder”. You can access this from the homepage -> menu -> vocabulary builder

20150621_203625To revise these words you can click on them, see the definition AND the context/sentence you first saw it in. Seeing a new vocabulary word in context makes you much more likely to remember it:

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Then, once you think you know the new words, (or maybe you’re just bored one day), you can play with the flashcards. The word comes up in the sentence and you guess its meaning. You can then turn over the flashcard to see if you are right. If you are- you can select ‘mastered‘. You can play with the flashcards until you’ve mastered all the new vocabulary that you found in the book.

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But what if I don’t understand the sentence? All language students have this experience: you understand all of the words in a sentence, but you just don’t 100% understand what that sentence means.

The Kindle can help here too. For example you see “holy grail”. You may understand holy, you may understand grail, but you don’t understand the full meaning, or the significance. In this case you can check Wikipedia to see if ‘holy grail’ together means something. Click, or highlight the phrase in the book, and the dictionary appears. The second tab at the top is Wikipedia. You can also use this to look up place names or references to history to help you further understand the book.

Some books have a built-in “X-Ray” feature which does the same thing, and unlike the Wikipedia function, you don’t need to be connected to the internet to use it.

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The last great feature I want to mention is the “Highlighter“.  Use this to highlight entire sentences that you like and want to remember. These are automatically stored in the kindle for you to look through later.

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I like to use this feature when I find an interesting metaphor or idiom. When browsing through your highlights, you can also see “Popular Highlights“- sentences that other readers have highlighted.

So there you have it. How Kindles can help you learn a language. Are there any other features I didn’t mention? Do you have any tips or tricks? Let me know in a comment below!