I just finished reading Harry Potter 3 in Spanish, and boy am I glad to be done! It feels really great to have accomplished this goal, and to be 2/7ths of the way done with my goal of reading each of the 7 books in a different language (I read #1 in English, so that's the other 1/7th I've completed). I think I will move on to #2 in Latin or #4 in German next!
My motivation for this project came from an ESL student I once had, who told me she had vastly improved her English and her confidence by reading a long Harry Potter book in English. Reading a whole book in a foreign language is a big undertaking, even for people with quite high levels of proficiency, but it is worthwhile. The sheer amount of linguistic input and repetition of vocabulary you get is wonderful. I feel way more comfortable and familiar with the Spanish past tense and subjunctive after reading that book. Now I just have to put it into use by writing to my friends, going to a Spanish chat, or interacting with other speakers online, in a forum such as: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/41373.Multilingual_Harry_Potter
My mother, who reads 5 languages fluently and uses at least 4 of them in her job as a librarian, always told me that to keep up your foreign language fluency, you should read easy mystery novels that are suspenseful but not frustratingly difficult. Some would say it's strange to read these works in translation instead of reading real Spanish-language literature, and that's true to some extent. But Gabriel Garcia Marquez is too "magical" and confusing for me still, Don Quixote is too antiquated, and although I've read Paolo Coelho in Spanish, I think he writes in Portuguese, no? In any case, I applaud anyone who can get their hands on and read real Spanish & Latin American literature, but I also think Harry Potter is just the right level for many intermediate learners.
Did you know Mr. H.P.'s adventures are now available in 42 languages? Many of them are available from a shop right here in Seattle: http://www.multilingualbooks.com/harrypotter.html. Why not get someone a nice foreign language novel (and pocket dictionary, of course!) for the holidays?
Happy Holidays, and happy reading!