How to improve your reading skills!
What’s the best way to improve your reading skills? Here are a few of our top tips.
1 Why you should read!
Reading can really help you learn a language. As you’re reading something, you’re learning hundreds of useful words and expressions without even realising it. You’re also seeing how words fit together and how language structures are used. Plus, as you’re reading, you’re finding out about interesting things, which could give you something to talk about in conversation.
2 What to read!
The key is to read things you want to read. When you’re interested in something, you focus on the content not the language. This means you learn without even realising it – the language simply flows in and gets registered in your brain. So, choose a topic that motivates you: sport, film, music, marketing, politics, economics, travel, business, technology… the options are limitless. And choose a format that suits you too: a book, a magazine, a website, a newspaper, a social media site… whatever you want.
3 How to read!
Before reading, you need to activate your existing knowledge of the topic. When you do this, you “connect” with the text, and your understanding of it will increase. You’ll also find it easier to guess the meaning of any new words and expressions. For example, if you’re going to read an article on skiing, you could start by thinking about all the words you know related to this theme; or you could answer discussion questions on the topic. Then, when you start reading, you’ll find it easier to follow the text.
4 Let the text help you!
Before reading, look carefully at the page. Is there a title? Are there any pictures? Is there an introduction? Are there any paragraph titles? Is there a text box that summarises the information in a few words? All these things will give you a general understanding of the text, and help activate your existing knowledge of the topic. And then it’ll be much easier for you to read.
5 While you’re reading
The first time you read something do it quickly. Aim to get a general understanding, and try to focus on the content, not the language. Where possible, simply guess the meaning of any unknown words, and skip the parts you don’t understand. Of course, later, you can go over the text again and read it more carefully. But when you do that, only use a dictionary after you’ve made an effort to work out the meaning of any difficult words. By trying to understand words from the context, you’ll learn them more effectively.
6 Top tips
Here are some more top tips on how to improve your reading skills.
■ When you’ve finished reading something, make a note of five to 10 words or expressions you’d like to remember or learn. Write them down in sentences and include any other information such as how to pronounce them or any synonyms and antonyms.
■ Read a bit every day: before you go to sleep, on your day to work, during your lunch break… And set mini-objectives. For example, if you’re reading a book, aim to read 10 pages a day.
■ If possible, read things in your own language first, and then try them in English. As you’re already familiar with the topic or story, you’ll find it easier to read in English. You could do this with news reports, books, film reviews, novels, articles… anything that you can find in both languages.
■ Reading should be fun, so choose texts that aren’t too difficult for you. The best thing is to read at your level or slightly higher. If reading feels too much like work, it’ll stop being enjoyable.
Reading is great. We all know that. So, find something you’re interested in, and read about it in English. You’ll learn so much!
What to read
So, what can you read? Here are some of our ideas: graded readers, children’s books, audio books, books designed for secondary school students from Englishspeaking countries, magazine articles, bestsellers (rather than classics as the language in classics is often complex or outdated), “how to” guides, websites, Facebook posts, Twitter messages, the comments section on websites, slogans, newspaper headlines from online newspapers, online forums, recommendations from friends… the list is endless.
Copyright © 2014 by Hot English Publishing
■ to fit together exp = the way that words “fit together” is the way they join together or connect
■ to focus on exp = if you “focus on” something, you only concentrate on that thing
■ to flow in exp = if something “flows in”, it enters something in a slow, continuous movement
■ to get registered exp = if information “gets registered”, it becomes recorded
■ to activate your existing knowledge exp = if you “activate your existing knowledge” of a topic, you think about all the things you already know about this topic
■ to guess vb = if you “guess” the meaning of a word, you say what you think it means, even though you aren’t sure
■ to aim vb = if you “aim” to do something, you want to do that thing and it’s your objective
■ to skip vb = if you “skip” over a part of the text, you don’t read it
■ to work out phr vb = if you “work out” the meaning of a word, you discover its meaning
■ the context exp = if you understand a word from “the context”, you understand it by looking at the words before or after it. These words can help make its meaning clear
■ a synonym n = a word which means the same as another word
■ an antonym n = a word which means the opposite of another word
■ to set vb = if you “set” an objective, you decide what that objective will be
■ a graded reader n = a book for language learners. The language in the book is easier than in the original
Copyright © 2014 by Hot English Publishing
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