As we celebrated World book day in Ireland on March 7th, let’s have a look at how important reading is for improving your English.
Most of our students tell us that they really want to improve their spoken English and this is one of the reasons they choose to travel to Ireland to study. What has this got to do with reading you ask? Quite a lot actually!
Reading won’t help with your pronunciation or with speaking itself but it is one of the best ways to increase the amount of language you know and to consolidate your understanding of grammar. Reading shows you the language in action. It exposes you to a wide range of vocabulary and language structures in context. The more exposure you have to the same vocabulary and language structures through reading, the more easily you will start to use them in your spoken English as well. The more language you know well, the faster you can access it to understand and participate in a conversation or discussion.
A big advantage to reading is that you are in control. You can read and absorb language at your own pace. You choose the material and the topic. So what can you do to read more and improve your English?
- Put aside a little bit of time every day to read
10-15 minutes will do. In that time you can read the news, or a short article, part of a magazine. It’s important you read something you are interested in because you are more likely to continue reading something you like.
- Use a graded reader
These are books which are adapted specifically for different levels so the language is easier to understand.
- Read something you are familiar with
If your English is of a higher level, a good place to start is to read something you are already familiar with in your own language. For example, try reading your favourite book in English. Or when you have finished reading the news in your language, read the same news in English.
- Read different types of texts
Different texts use different styles and language. The greater variety you read, the more styles of language you will become familiar with. This is particularly important at higher levels. Also reading only news articles for example will get very boring after a while.
- Don’t get stuck on every word you don’t understand
It is tempting to want to look up every work you don’t know but this turns reading into a translation exercise. Using a dictionary is helpful to understand key words but sometimes you can skip over words if they don’t prevent you from understanding the overall meaning. The more you read, the better you will be able to identify which words you absolutely need to understand.
- Use an e-reader
E-readers are really useful because they have built-in highlighters and dictionaries so you can mark pages and underline language easily.
- Do keep a note of language you notice
You can’t keep everything you read so it is important to record new and useful language. It is particularly useful to record vocabulary connected with a topic and don’t forget to review it every once in a while to keep it fresh.
- Read it again
Reading something again is a good way to revise and consolidate language you have seen already. It is also a way for you to measure your progress as you will see how much faster you can read something the second or third time around. You don’t need to read something again immediately. Leave it a few weeks and come back to it.