Have your English teachers ever told you to read as much as you can in English? Have they told you that it’s a great way to build your vocabulary? And to see how words are used in context in English?
Well, I absolutely agree!
But what can you do to improve your reading skills in English so that you can become a better reader and actually start enjoying it? That is exactly what this lesson is all about!
Now there are a ton of benefits to reading English texts. You’re going to build your vocabulary, right? As you learn new words. But you’ll be learning those words together in chunks, right? Together in sentences so that you can learn how to use them correctly and the words that they’re often used with. You’ll also experience how words express tone and feeling through the interactions between characters.
So tone in writing is the author’s attitude and this is an incredibly useful way to learn how to choose the right words to express feeling and emotion in English. So my first question for you today is do you like reading English texts? If your answer’s yes, what English text do you like to read? Or even better, what English book are you reading right now? I’d love to see some recommendations in the comments so if you’ve got a good one, share it below!
But if your answer to this question is no, well why do you think that is? Maybe you don’t really love reading even in your own native language. Well then, reading in English is probably going to be even more painful, right? But maybe you prefer watching movies or listening to podcasts – something like that. Perhaps you get frustrated because you feel like reading’s a chore. And you really need to improve your skills sitting still and reading a book, right?
Well that’s not really an excuse because Audible allows you to listen to books wherever you are. I listen to my books now because I don’t like to sit still either! So I listen when I go for a run. If you want to try listening to English books instead then I’ve added a link below in the description to help you get your first audiobook free from Audible. The link’s down there if you want to check it out!
But today I want you to stick around all the way through to the end of this video. I’m going to be sharing some really useful tips to help you improve your reading skills.
Hey guys! Just in case you haven’t heard yet, I’m doing the Lingoda Language Marathon this year. Definitely going to be my biggest language challenge of two thousand and nineteen. And maybe yours as well! But I’ve created a private Facebook group just for mmmEnglish language students who are completing the marathon and want to come and join me. But you’ve got to use the link that’s in the description below this video to join. In that group, I’ll be sharing videos about my experience and tips and motivation to help you keep going all the way to the end of that marathon. So if you’re ready for the challenge, come and join me! Enrollments close on the thirteenth of May. That’s this Monday! So you better be quick! Check out that link right there for the full details.
Before we get started, a little reminder to turn on the subtitles if you need to – just down there. I write subtitles for every lesson on the mmmEnglish channel so you can turn them on at any time! And some of my amazing students here help me to translate these lessons into their own native language so that more people can share and learn from them as well!
So if you’re up for the challenge to add subtitles in your native language, there’s a link in the description that will help you to do that. Your name’s going to get shown in the description too as a thank you!
#1 Read more
My first tip is to read more! Alright that one might seem completely obvious but I had to say it! You’re not going to improve your reading without reading, right? The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Now this might take you a little effort at first, right? To get to that point, you might need to say to yourself: Alright every day, at six o’clock in the evening, I’m going to spend fifteen minutes reading.
So you do it every night. You know what they say? It takes twenty-one days to make something a habit, right? So if you do it consistently for twenty-one days you’ll have a good chance of bringing daily reading practice into your life. And it can help you know, to create a little ritual around the activity, so do it on the train on the way to work or go and lie in the sunshine. That’s what I do!
I’ve got a couple of Spanish readers and I always go down to the beach and practise there and it is so relaxing, it’s one of my favourite times of day.
Now there’s a good chance that you’re thinking: But what should I read?
#2 Choose carefully
Well, choose what you read carefully. The easy part of this decision is just choosing topic or a genre that you like, right? If you love reading soppy, romantic novels – do it! Quit thinking that something has to be educational for you to learn, right? It’s just not true. If you love reading comics, that’s fine too! Well, try and choose a comic that’s got a little more text in it, right? A little more reading.
Or choose one of those really awesome illustrated books for teenagers, I’ve made some recommendations in the comments below But the story lines in those books, in those types of books, are often fun and entertaining and there’s images that help you to kind of engage in the story as well. It’s going to make your reading practice much less of a chore, right? Nobody wants to drag themselves through a book or a novel – a massive novel. Especially one that they don’t like. Or that’s boring, right?
There’s just so much material out there for you to read that there is absolutely no reason to be reading something that you’re not into, right? Pick something that interests you, whether it’s the sports section of the newspaper or a mystery novel or a nonfiction book about plants, it doesn’t matter at all.
But what does matter is that you enjoy what you’re reading so that it encourages you to do it more, right? One really common problem that I see among my students is that they’re too ambitious with their reading material, right?
A pre-intermediate student reading Jane Austen novels, I mean, I think that’s really a form of torture. Right? ‘Pride and Prejudice’ has extremely advanced vocabulary and sarcasm and complex sentence structures. It could be really hard work to try and get to the end of a book like that.
So you need to be looking at texts that are the right level for you, that help you to get through them.
And if you’re a Jane Austen fan, well, I’ve got some recommendations in the description because her novels are so popular that they’ve been adapted for teenage readers and intermediate level students as well, so this could be perfect for you. I’m going to add the link in the description. And to be completely honest, the vocabulary in books written for teenagers and younger people is usually extremely useful for everyday English use, right?
So don’t let your ego get in the way between you and a fantastic read, right? Now I also want to mention to be true to yourself here. If you just can’t stand reading pages and pages of text in a novel, that’s cool!
Read a daily blog post instead or a magazine article. It really doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you’re enjoying it. Now if you like to read but you don’t want to lug around a notebook or a dictionary with you, then an e-reader is a really good option, right? I just have Kindle downloaded on my phone so all of my books come with me everywhere that I go. And this makes your practice really easy, right? You’ve got books with you all the time. And the cool thing is that e-readers help you to translate words or things really simply, just by touching the word on the screen. So that could be a good option and make it a little easier to get into a reading practice.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve got a list of book recommendations in the description below and if you still don’t know what to read, then here’s another one of my favourite tips.
#3 Read the same book
Read a book that you’ve already read in your own language. Right? Reading a book that you’ve already read once or even a few times in your own language can eliminate a lot of the hard work, painful work, when you’re reading a book in English, right?
Firstly, you already know that you’ll like the book, right? And secondly, you don’t have to worry about misunderstanding something or words that you’re unsure of, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop reading and look them up so that you understand the story, right? You’ll be able to fill in the gaps in your understanding from your previous knowledge. So since you already know the story, you won’t get stuck on the details, right? You’ll be able to focus on learning new words and expressions without having to look up all of the in-between words which is really great for morale. And generally just makes the experience a bit more enjoyable which is what we’re all about!
#4 Don’t get stuck on the details
And you don’t have to get stuck on the details. It’s great to test yourself and to look up words and to read out loud sometimes. If you try to understand every single word in the book, you might never finish it, right? It’s going to be a lot of work to get there. You know, you want to make sure that you understand the main story line, and if you aren’t sure of a word or two, but you understand the general idea of the sentence, then you can try and guess the meaning of the word and move on, you don’t have to know absolutely everything!
And that’s true, even when I read books in English, there will be words that I don’t recognise or words that I don’t use that often, words that are used by Americans that we don’t really use that much here, but I don’t have to stop and look up the meaning of every word. I just, you know, read through the story, try to piece it together. Unless it’s something that is really, really, crucial or important to the story, I don’t need to know the exact meaning.
Now for you as an English learner, if there are too many unknown words on the page, and you really don’t have a good idea of what’s happening in the story, then it’s possible that this text is too advanced for you. So try reading something with less unknown words first. Right? If a word seems really important or really interesting, but you’ve still got a bit of an idea of what’s going on in the story, then just circle it and move on, you can come back to it and look it up later. Don’t let it stop you.
Okay so the first tips that we went through will help you to get started, I want you to just commit to reading and to dive into a book and to really just focus on enjoying the journey. As we said before, reading in general is already going to be improving your English skills, right? But if you want to take a more proactive approach to reading, then the next few tips are going to help you to push your English skills a little further.
#5 Read out loud
One of the most effective ways to learn anything is to combine different styles of learning right? This is how we supercharge learning. So for example, if you are reading something while listening to it, so choosing your favourite book and then finding it on Audible. Audible’s got over two hundred thousand books there so the chances of you finding your favourites is pretty high.
But then you could take it one step further. Read it while you’re listening to it and say the words at the same time. Doing all of this is supercharging your learning. There are so many good things that are happening here at once. Your mind’s taking in information in multiple ways, your muscles in your mouth are remembering how to pronounce or how to make the sounds correctly because you’re listening to them at the same time.
Now this might not be the best option if you are reading in a quiet library or on a bus on the way to work, that kind of thing. But you’ll find a way to make it work! I’m sure of it.
#6 Test yourself
My last tip is to test yourself. I’ve given you quite a few tips already today but I want to give you a tip that’s going to help you take your reading from pleasure into study. And there’s a time and a place for this, right? Sometimes we just want to relax and unwind, but other times you might be ready to like roll up your sleeves and really dive in and understand how the language is being used.
So when you’re in the mood, test yourself. Even if you’re not reading next to a teacher it doesn’t mean that you can’t pause to ask yourselves questions about the text and check that you’ve understood it correctly, right?
So one way to do this is to open a book at a random page, read a paragraph, close the book, write down some of the key points that you remember from that paragraph and then go back and study it in detail. Did you miss anything important? This is a really good way to practise your comprehension skills, even if you’re on your own, it is possible for you to do this. There might be a word that you’ve not have heard of before. You don’t know the meaning of it. But instead of looking it up straight away, look at the words around it and try and guess what the meaning is before you check. Maybe you know the word, but you haven’t seen it used in that context before, right? So look it up. Try writing a sentence with this new definition. These types of questions that you ask yourself are going to help you check your understanding and then also go a little deeper into the text. And really make sure that you’ve understood it correctly.