Right now you are
reading English. That means that you are using
your brain in a very active way. Reading is a
very active process. It is true that the writer
does a lot of work, but the reader also has to
work hard. When you read a text, you have to do
some or all of these:
- imagine a scene in your head
- understand clearly what the writer is trying
- agree or disagree with the writer
Advantages of Reading
When you learn a language, listening, speaking
and writing are important, but reading can also
be very helpful. There are many advantages associated
with reading, including:
You will usually encounter new words when you
read. If there are too many new words for you,
then the level is too high and you should read
something simpler. But if there are, say, a maximum
of five new words per page, you will learn this
vocabulary easily. You may not even need to use
a dictionary because you can guess the meaning
from the rest of the text (from the context).
Not only do you learn new words, but you see them
being used naturally.
A Model For Writing
When you read, it gives you a good example for
writing. Texts that you read show you structures
and expressions that you can use when you write.
When people write, they usually use "correct"
English with a proper grammatical structure. This
is not always true when people speak. So, by reading
you see and learn grammatical English naturally.
Working At Your Own
You can read as fast or as slowly as you like.
You can read ten pages in 30 minutes, or take
one hour to explore just one page. It doesn't
matter. The choice is yours. You cannot easily
do this when speaking or listening. This is one
of the big advantages of reading because different
people work at different speeds.
If you choose something to read that you like,
it can actually be interesting and enjoyable.
For example, if you like to read about football
in your own language, why not read about football
in English? You will get information about football
and improve your English at the same time.
Five Tips for Reading
Try to read at the right level. Read something
that you can (more or less) understand. If you
need to stop every three words to look in a dictionary,
it is not interesting for you and you will soon
Make a note of new vocabulary. If there are four
or five new words on a page, write them in your
vocabulary book. But you don't have to write them
while you read. Instead, try to guess their meaning
as you read; mark them with a pen; then come back
when you have finished reading to check in a dictionary
and add them to your vocabulary book.
Try to read regularly. For example, read for a
short time once a day. Fifteen minutes every day
is better than two hours every Sunday. Fix a time
to read and keep to it. For example, you could
read for fifteen minutes when you go to bed, or
when you get up, or at lunchtime.
Be organised. Have everything ready:
- something to read
- a marker to highlight difficult words
- a dictionary
- your vocabulary book
- a pen to write down the new words
Read what interests YOU. Choose a magazine or
book about a subject that you like.
Things to Read
You can find English-language newspapers in all
large cities around the world. Newspapers are
interesting because they are about real life and
the news. BUT they are not easy to read. Try reading
newspapers if your level is intermediate or above.
Some British newspapers:
- The Telegraph
- The Times
- The Independent
- The Guardian
- The Financial Times (business)
- The Sunday Times
Some American newspapers:
- The International Herald Tribune
- The New York Times
- The Wall Street Journal (business)
Some magazines are published weekly, some monthly.
You can find English-language magazines in many
large cities around the world. If you cannot find
the magazine you want in your town, you may be
able to order it for delivery. Many magazines
have pictures which can help your understanding.
You will need an intermediate level for most magazines,
but a pre-intermediate level may be ok for some
There are magazines on every subject:
- The House
Books are divided mainly into:
- Non-fiction (history, biography, travel,
- Fiction (stories and novels)
Some books are easier to read than others. It
often depends on the author. Agatha Christie,
for example, wrote in an easier style and with
simpler vocabulary than Stephen King. You can
buy books in specialised English-language bookshops
in large cities around the world. You may also
be able to find some English-language books in
libraries. And if you have a British Council in
your city, you can borrow many English-language
books from their library.
Short stories can be a good choice when learning
a language because they are...short. It's like
reading a whole book in a few pages. You have
all the excitement of a story in a book, but you
only have to read 5,000 or 10,000 words. So you
can quite quickly finish the story and feel that
you have achieved something. Short stories are
published in magazines, in books of short stories,
and on the Internet. You can also find short stories
at englishclub.com English Reading.
Readers are books that are specially published
to be easy to read. They are short and with simple
vocabulary. They are usually available at different
levels, so you should be able to find the right
level for you. Many readers are stories by famous
authors in simple form. This is an excellent way
for you to start practising reading.
By "Cornflakes Packets", we mean any
product you can buy that has English writing on
or with it. If you buy a box of chocolates, or
a new camera, why not read the description or
instructions in English? There are many such examples,
and they all give you an opportunity to read real
- airline tickets
- cans or packets of food
- bottles of drink
- tapes and CDs
- user guides for videos, computers...
If you like poetry, try reading some English-language
poems. They may not be easy to understand because
of the style and vocabulary, but if you work at
it you can usually get an idea - or a feeling
- of what the poet is trying to say. You'll find
some classic poems, with explanations of vocabulary,
at englishclub.com English Reading.
Good luck with your reading. It will help you
make a lot of Progress!
(c) 2000 Josef Essberger