Two book lists and the Ilya Frank method.
- What is the “nature method”?
- “Nature method” book list
- Books in (very) mildly the same vein for other languages
What is the “nature method”?
In short, an interesting pedagogy that takes you from having little knowledge of the target language to a certain reading fluency by exposing all new vocabulary either through context, simple pictures or explanations (written in the target language) in the page margin.
It is in my opinion the fastest and the most fun way to learn a language. I have personally learnt Italian and Latin this way and it was such a delight that I’m always on the lookout for more books using this method. Fellow readers of Lingua Latina know just how effortless and “not like studying” learning with these books is.
Here is a picture of the first page in the first chapter of Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata:
Unfortunately, books using this method are rare. The best ones are published by a long-gone publisher called The Nature Method Institute before my parents were even born. Others are either published in the prehistoric age too and hard to find, or mediocre implementations at best.
“Nature method” book list
L’Italiano secondo il metodo natura (direct download link)
The book I used to learn Italian years ago. Highly recommended.
Le Français par la « méthode nature » (direct download link)
Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata (Amazon link because it’s not in public domain)
I can personally recommend this one too. The stories have me in stitches several times.
Erstes Deutsches Buch, nach der Natürlichen Methode (direct download link)
An alternate book list can be found here. I simply picked the ones I prefer (or ones that I did read).
Books in (very) mildly the same vein for other languages
Athenaze: Introduzione Al Greco Antico (Amazon link)
The Italian edition of Athenaze is a lot closer to the nature method than the english one.
A Course In Modern Icelandic (you can find a copy on google, don’t think it’s available anywhere else) The gripe I have about this one is that the texts are not based on contextual induction but rather just plain old vocabulary definitions in English. That said, I haven’t found any other book that gets you reading Icelandic right from the start so this will have to do.
The Mystery Of Nils (Amazon link)
Description from Amazon: “The Mystery of Nils” is a coherent story, which starts very simply, but develops into a fascinating novel. Can’t stop reading? Well then ‒ you will have to learn Norwegian!
Finnish for foreigners 1 & 2 (Amazon link)
Went through these myself and loved them. The second book is a lot tougher though.
That is all I have found for English speakers so far. For my fellow Russian speakers, there is something even better.
Ilya Frank’s Reading Method
Ilya Frank’s Reading Method website is a literal godsend. If you read Russian, are into reading, and is at least A1 in your target language, just go ahead and buy all the books (they are VERY cheap) they offer for that language. Set aside a few weeks to devour them and you will come out the other end A TOTALLY DIFFERENT HUMAN.
Ok I may have exaggerated a bit. And I don’t think any of my explanations can do this method better justice than a quick glance at the free samples on the website will. If you’re curious, please take a look. With these books you can 300% read hundreds of pages of stories in your target language while enjoying it. Plus, last I checked the website offers 60+ languages and I can recommend every book I’ve bought so far.