It took me four months, but I am FINALLY done reading Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal.
When I said I wanted to read the first Harry Potter book in Spanish, I knew I was undertaking quite a challenge. I had taken Spanish on and off throughout middle school, high school and college, and always found that the classes came fairly easily to me, but you know what they say: if you don't use it, you lose it. I lost a lot of my español vocabulary over the past five years.
I'd been practicing using my Duolingo app for several months, though, and was feeling a bit more confident going in. I bought the e-book from Pottermore and downloaded it to my Kindle, because I knew I would be looking up a lot of words that I didn't understand, so I wanted to be able to do that with just a touch.
And at first, I found the reading really difficult because, despite learning a lot of the verbs in the present-tense during my Spanish classes, how often are books really written in present tense? My knowledge of the past-tense versions were rusty at best, non-existent at worst. I found myself using the translation button like eight times per Kindle page, and was frustrated at how much time it was taking.
A few days after I started struggling through La Piedra Filosofal, I had dinner with a girl who had majored in Spanish in college and is fluent herself. She said that she had read some books in Spanish before, and that it was easier and more helpful for your own Spanish skills to just keep reading and use context clues to figure out what the missing words were. I started using the translation function less after that, and it started to go much smoother. I still ended up translating maybe once or twice per page, in the beginning, but the closer I got to the end, the less I felt like I needed to lean on that. I tried to read out loud when I could to practice the words. I managed to learn a lot of new words and re-learned a lot of old forgotten ones.
At the end, I still didn't understand every word, not by a long shot. Thank goodness I was so familiar with the story that I could figure out what was going on even if I didn't know the words! But it was an interesting experience. One that I don't plan to attempt again soon.