About

The general aim of The Potterglot Project is to read each book of the Harry Potter series in a different language, and to become a proficient reader of the target language by the end of the book. The current language is German, possibly followed by Dutch, Spanish, Norwegian, French, and possibly more difficult languages like Japanese or Welsh.

History

The Potterglot Project actually started about 2013-ish as a way to learn Spanish. At the same time, a career change meant spending more time learning programming languages than spoken languages. Thus, the project was largely abandoned.

Now, an interest in learning German has reignited the project, along with the idea to use those programming languages learned in the the last few years to create apps, games, and other learning resources.

Why Harry Potter?

  1. The Harry Potter series is one of the most translated books in history, with over 80 authorized translations in print.
  2. It’s a well-known story, so many word meanings can be inferred without having to consult a dictionary.

Why not Harry Potter?

One drawback to this method is the fact that the text has already been translated from English. In translation, meanings will be changed to fit the target language. When available, supplemental texts in the target language will be used.

Methodology

Language learning is an inherently personal process. My method for learning software development was to take some completed code and tinker with it, picking it apart piece by piece until it made sense, then recombining that knowledge to make something new.

The approach is similar to Kató Lomb’s, in which she’d take a book and pick it apart linguistically until the vocabulary and grammar made sense.

  • Duolingo for vocabulary and a more structured grammar study. Duolingo is fun, and a few lessons per day does the brain good.
  • Text study. Picking apart the Harry Potter books bit by bit and making observations based on that study.
  • Listening. When available, listening to Harry Potter on audiobook in the target language.
  • Writing. Creating blog posts in the target language.

I’m also a fan of the Feynman Technique. With this method, you reinforce your learning by attempting to explain what you’ve learned in simpler concepts. That’s part of the reason for this blog. The Potterglot Project is part personal notes, part explanation the new concepts that I have learned.