There are sources online for ready-made parallel texts of books, but there's a catch- there always is. The books may not fit your interest and they most likely will be older, out of copyright texts- "The Portrait of Dorian Grey", Sherlock Holmes, etc. In the beginning stages, trying to read a book can be a daunting task. There's a lot of it to get through.
One way to resolve this is to go for shorter texts, like articles with translations. One source I have used in the past is GlobalVoices.org. The articles are all human translated.
Global Voices wrote:We are a border-less, largely volunteer community of more than 1400 writers, analysts, online media experts and translators.
Global Voices has been leading the conversation on citizen media reporting since 2005. We curate, verify and translate trending news and stories you might be missing on the Internet, from blogs, independent press and social media in 167 countries.
Many of the world's most interesting and important stories aren't in just one place. Sometimes they’re scattered in bits and pieces across the Internet, in blog posts and tweets, and in multiple languages. These are the stories we accurately report on Global Voices—and translate into more than 35 languages.
The articles are contemporary, diverse and interesting. These are not "hard news" items but more along the lines of the impact of current events and pop culture on the lives of people. They publish in all the major languages in addition to some not so common languages like Malagasy, Aymara and Albanian.
Some of the articles are original in these languages, and get translated into English and many other languages. Many of the articles were originally published in English and translated into the other languages. This can be quite useful for language learners. I have found the translations to be quite faithful. They can be used to make your own parallel texts for learning, especially in the A2/B1 stages after or during a course.
There are many ways to make a parallel text. LF Aligner is one of them and is a free and legal to download program. It was designed by member Andras Farkas who also has his own website, Farkas Translations, with several public domain books available already aligned with various language combinations from which to choose. LF Aligner is great for long texts and books. There are even youtube demo videos to show you how it's done. What I want to do today is show you the worth of short articles and how to make short parallel texts easily, with few computer skills required, by using your own word processor program. I'll be using the Global Voices Articles which are licensed under Creative Commons license.
I am a huge fan of free, open-source, software. My word processing program is open office. To make a parallel text after acquiring the two sources of text:
1) Open a text document
2) Insert a two column/one row table
3) Copy L2 and paste in the left column (try to avoid copying and pasting photos and special formatting)
4) Copy L1 and paste in the right column
5) Print to pdf
6) Read (on a tablet, hard copy, computer, phone in landscape view, whatever).On a tablet you can expand the image to exclude L1 and then shrink it back to check your guesses.
Tweaking the text:
Of course, you'll have to tweak it. Some languages use more words and some use fewer words to say the same thing. Some of the text may be different font sizes and these will have to be tweaked. I like my text to be the same font size and same font. It can be done to your own personal tastes. You end up with something like this:
Heres one in Russian to English (Take into account that I don't speak Russian, though thanks to Serpent and her tweets, I can read the alphabet :
I don't know if I can get this one right because it's in Japanese. The story is about stop action Ultraman videos on youtube:
So, if I can do this, you can too. Reading is one of the ways I learn new vocabulary without SRS. Parallel texts can be a good way to read without "breaking flow" to look up words. They can be used in a number of different ways. Read L1 first then L2. Read L2 first then L1. Read L2 only checking L1 to confirm guesses, which is my preferred method. You can read extensively or intensively. There are several useful variations to do this.
Global Voices is just one multilingual source. Another fun and useful parallel text is using subtitle srt files. Subtitlte files are available at several sites online, or can be ripped from DVD's you already own. They generally come online in SRT files which can be opened in the Windows operating system in Notepad. From Notepad, I can copy and paste into the two column table format. These require a bit more effort because the time stamps won't line up and stuff, like a descriptor- "she coughs" may not get a subtitle in L2 or writing on a sign in L1 may get translated into L2 and not show up in the L1 subs, etc. You get used to it. I did a season of "The Walking Dead" for a friend of mine who is learning Spanish in parallel text. I can make a parallel text for a half an hour show in about 5 minutes and a 45 minute one in about 10 minutes. So, it's not that big a deal. Here's a sample of dialogue from The Walking Dead series 04 episode 11- "Claimed":
This can be useful for learners because it can help them to understand, even if the subs and audio don't match. The parallel text can be read before watching and can help with understanding what's going on. They can also be used to read after having watched the show. You could take notes during the show and use the parallel text as a check on your comprehension. Again there are many ways to use this. Obviously, subs2srs, with accurate subtitles is the best, but not all of us have the computer skills necessary to do that.
Of course, translations aren't 100% accurate. That's why we learn languages in the first place because so much does, indeed, get "lost in translation". Still, this is a way to boost learning of vocabulary without srs. It's a way to make your own interesting content that is more meaningful to you personally and add some fun into your routine. This can be done with song lyric translations too- really, anything with a good translation- government pamphlets, even. You can use anything from which you can copy and paste text. Have a look at this Global Voices article about The Wonderful World of Japan's ‘Okonomiyaki’. It's available in Hindi, Italian, Spanish and Catalan.
The way I have described to make a parallel text is NOT one I would use to make a parallel text of a book. For such a long text, use a program like LF Aligner. For a short text like a news article or a TV show, this can be easier to do manually. My problem is/was, for Haitian Creole, Lesser Antilles French Creole and Ladino (Djudeo-espanyol), there simply isn't a whole lot of translated source material out there for me. That, and, well, I am beyond parallel texts in all my languages. Working with (lots of) short parallel texts can help with extensive reading. Once you have developed a sufficient vocabulary size (that can be done by extensive reading or srs, if you prefer) you won't need parallel texts anymore. Hopefully, this can help some of you who are new to language learning get the benefit of using parallel texts in your learning.