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Listing translated books by CEFR level

 Language Learning Forum : Books, Literature & Reading Post Reply
16 messages over 2 pages: 1
Senior Member
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 Message 9 of 16
05 March 2014 at 2:05pm | IP Logged 
daegga wrote:
luke wrote:
daegga wrote:
Lord of the Rings - J.R.R Tolkien (English original) - B2 (maybe even B1)
The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien (English original) - B1 (maybe even A2)

I don't know how you came up with those ratings. The Hobbit is easier than Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings starts out at as a children's book - at the same level as The Hobbit - but the tone shifts early on and it goes to a higher level.

The Hobbit may be B1, and LOTR may be B2, but then again, LOTR may also be C2. LOTR is not a book using simplifed English to go easy on the reader.

Just wild guessing based on my experience. I didn't read them in English by the way, I read The Hobbit in Norwegian and LOTR in Danish.
LOTR was actually the first book I've read in Danish and I did just fine. I'm not
saying that I understood every single word, but it was readable without a dictionary. I couldn't have possibly been more advanced than B2 passively at this stage.
And The Hobbit is easier than LOTR, so I went down one level on the scale, A2 would
probably be too low a level if you don't speak a closely related language, it's not
that easy.

full disclosure: I actually listened to the audiobook of both instead of really reading them. But that doesn't usually make the language feel easier, rather the opposite.

I guess we are both logged in at the same time. I was going to say...

Pardon me if I've missed something and you really mean there are German translations that are at A2/B1 level. I can believe that. There are translations of some classic books such as The Iliad which only use the 500 most frequent words in English.

Thanks for clarifying. That's very helpful.

Translations often seem easier than native materials.

Edited by luke on 05 March 2014 at 2:06pm

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 Message 10 of 16
05 March 2014 at 4:18pm | IP Logged 
How does someone determine the level of books? For example, I'd like to read novels by the following authors translated into Spanish and I'd like to start with the easiest.

John Grisham
Ken Follett
Stephen King
Tom Clancy
Ayn Rand
Dan Brown

Is there an easy way to determine how easy/hard these would be before buying them and just trying them out? If anyone has experience reading these authors I'd appreciate knowing the approximate level of their novels.

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Studies: German

 Message 11 of 16
06 March 2014 at 9:24pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the additions, guys. I've updated the list:

A1 Beginner
The Cat in the Hat - Dr Seuss (English original)
Green Eggs and Ham - Dr Seuss (English original)

A2 Elementary
Asterix Series- (French original)
Tintin Series- Herge (French original)

B1 Low Intermediate
Earth's Children (6 lengthy books) - Jean M. Auel (English original)
Harry Potter Series- JK Rowling (English original)
Le petit prince (French original)
Micky, Donald etc paperbacks- Disney (English Original)
The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien (English original)

B2 High Intermediate
Lord of the Rings - J.R.R Tolkien (English original)
Sherlock Holmes Series (English original)

C1 Advanced
A Song of Ice and Fire (5 lengthy books so far) - G.R.R. Martin (English original)

I haven't gone into the levels of the books into detail such as content words etc.
Indeed, I believe that the CEFR is more about your ability to communicate with others
and there aren't any word lists. So I'm using the idea fast and loose. I've used
suggestions of the cefr level for the book in English. These are just the full adult
versions. Not abridged, or adult readers. Not perfect, but a pointer until someone
whose read a particular book can advise otherwise.

James29- I've had a look for you. I only found:

John Grisham C1 ref: Learn
English in Dublin

Again, if anyone has any experience of any of these books or others and wishes to pitch
in with their opinion, be my guest!
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Russian Federation
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 Message 12 of 16
06 March 2014 at 9:46pm | IP Logged 
Are you sure ASOIAF is harder than LOTR? Why?
I've read only some pages in Italian but it didn't seem any more difficult. And the quotes in English sound very modern.
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 Message 13 of 16
07 March 2014 at 12:20am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Are you sure ASOIAF is harder than LOTR? Why?
I've read only some pages in Italian but it didn't seem any more difficult. And the
quotes in English sound very modern.

It depends ... as I said, you can read it at a B2 level (I did so in Danish), the same
level I proposed for LOTR. It's nevertheless harder if we only take vocabulary into
account, because GRR Martin uses lots of not very well known vocabulary (even to native
English speakers), things you usually look up on wikipedia rather than a dictionary
though, ie. sorts of tools, weapons, interior, buildings, tapestry, food, wine, etc.
But one can certainly live with that on a B2 level, just look up the interesting stuff,
leave the rest fuzzy.
What's more important are the subtleties, all the foreshadowing, minor details that can
play a role 1000-2000 pages further on. You really have to pay a lot of attention if
you want to get the most out of it, in terms of content/enjoyment I mean. You actually
should read it at least 2 times in English - even if you are a native speaker or
advanced reader of it, because you certainly missed some "important" parts during the
first read - they just seem so unimportant at first. Only later, after some vague
reference, you'll realize that you should reread this and that chapter because you
haven't paid enough attention to some details the first round.
This is what makes ASOIAF so attractive to read, but also what makes it harder than
LOTR. You have to think, you have to combine, you gotta get the details - and you need
to be quite advanced to catch them all.

edit: there are some famous (chaptered) ASOIAF re-read blogs out in the web. When you
have read some of the books, do yourself a favour and read them, this gives some nice
WTF moments and triggers an instant urge to read those chapters again.

a fitting quote from

3. The obsession will never end - Yes, your commitment won’t be over just when you’ve
reached the last page of A Dance With Dragons. You’ll feel the need to re-read, then
check out opinions on the internet, and then maybe read the books all over again
looking for things you missed.

Edited by daegga on 07 March 2014 at 12:34am

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 Message 14 of 16
12 May 2014 at 10:55am | IP Logged 
Translations are not always at the same level, or the same quality, as the originals. I get a lot of questions from
English learners about Harry Potter because the sentences are not well thought-out and can often contain
ambiguous meaning. Obviously, when these books were translated into other languages, those ambiguities would
have had to be thought out and amended to make sense in the target language. It can, and probably more often
does, go in the other direction: books that may be very well written in their original language can lose a lot in

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Studies: German

 Message 15 of 16
12 May 2014 at 11:24am | IP Logged 
I think it's quite hard to be very precise with this rankings compared to CEFR levels. Perhaps it would be better simply to list books at Beginner (A1/A2), Intermediate (B1/B2) and Advanced (C1/C2).

Harry Potter is good for B1. I felt there was a definite jump in language around book 4.

The Percy Jackson series is easier, but still B1.

The Hunger Games series is harder than HP or PJ, but still quite readable.

The Huraki Murakami is B2 - he's actually a pretty good easy read.
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 Message 16 of 16
11 June 2014 at 8:08pm | IP Logged 
I am also interested in these CEFR levels for translated books. I am around A1 level and
struggle to find good stuff for me in Spanish.

I have considered "calvin and hobbes" cartoon strips and maybe 300 graphic novel by frank
millar but I think the frank millar one would be quite hard

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