Chris George, an experienced teacher and Assistant Director of Studies at LSI Cambridge provides some wonderful tips on how students can improve their reading in the language they are studying.
- Improving your reading skills can really improve other areas of English too, such as pronunciation, grammar and your range of vocabulary. What you read will usually determine how you read, and you don’t always need to understand every word you see.
- When you are looking through a magazine or newspaper you are probably ‘skimming’ the articles to understand the main idea. When looking at a train timetable, you are ‘scanning’ to find particular information, and when you read a novel for pleasure, for general understanding, you are reading extensively.
- Read what you are interested in. Do not assume you have to read classic English Literature. If you like football read a football magazine. Maybe your passion is cars, there are dozens of magazines and articles available. If fashion is your thing the choice is enormous.
- There are also plenty of podcasts and videos online which have transcripts. Reading along with these can really help your listening comprehension, and pronunciation too
- Don’t forget the local paper in your area. Some of the articles may not be very exciting but by reading them you improve your general reading skills and learn a lot about where you live. If you know what the important local stories are you have something to talk about with your host family or while you are waiting in the bus queue.
- Don’t try to learn too many new words. Remember there is a difference between recognising a word and being able to use it. If you can remember and use two or three words every day you are doing well!
- When you read, try to understand the general meaning of the text first, before you check new vocabulary. If you stop and check every new word you meet you’ll become discouraged, and your reading fluency will suffer. Can you guess the meaning of the vocabulary from the context and the words around it? Does it look like another word in English you already know? Is there a prefix? Is it positive or negative?
- Remember that vocabulary is one part of a language. There are many other things you need to learn to improve your level, but if you make reading part of your regular routine, you’ll notice an improvement in lots of other areas of your English.