Whenever we are learning a new language, it is essential to devote a few minutes to all the different learning areas, with regard to the English language:
- Listening comprehension
- Speaking skills
- Writing skills
- Reading comprehension
Benefits from reading are endless because first of all it is a useful and gratifying exercise in itself and at the same time improving your reading skills will indirectly help you make significant improvements in other areas, mainly with regard to your writing skills.
When you read a text you also learn new vocabulary and grammar structures that you will have the chance to use whenever you have to write or speak in English. Additionally it will bring you closer to a more “authentic” way to learn a new language because when you read you are learning the language used by English-speaking people, that is, common words and idioms employed on a daily basis. Summing up, through reading in English you will be able to improve the following areas:
- Oral comprehension
- Writing skills
- Grammar structures
- Text or paragraph general structure
As you can see there are numerous advantages… besides, working on reading comprehension is really easy: the only thing you have to do is read as much as you can always paying attention to detail, understanding the whole text and, if this is not possible, at least the main ideas.
For some people, this is a gigantic work because they see lots of difficulties in reading in a new language, they tend to get confused and end up absolutely clueless. In order to overcome these limitations, we have the following piece of advice for you:
- Devote some time into reading every day, a daily minimum of five minutes is enough. The most important thing is to acquire this habit and then you can easily add more minutes to it. For this purpose there are different things you can do:
- Keep a book, magazine, or whatever you want to read next to you. It may be kept in your purse, on the bedside table, on the sofa… wherever you go take your book with you as if it were your mobile phone 😉
- Plan a moment every day in advance to read and give it top priority to avoid interruptions
- Keep records of every day you read: taking notes in your calendar or your diary will help you see how much you are reading, which will keep you motivated to move forward.
- If you start with adapted reading (very recommendable in the beginning) read texts adapted to your level or slightly higher since they constitute a good challenge for you to learn
- Read about whatever you are interested in or like no matter the topic. If you cannot find books about it you will find thousands of resources on the internet even though they will not be likely to be adapted. It is important to make sure that reading is not boring, that keeps you entertained and enriches your intellect. This way it will be easier for you to get used to read every day and learn new vocabulary.
- If you don’t understand any of the words you read try not to use the dictionary. The first thing you have to do is find out the meaning of the word by its context. If this doesn’t work and the word happens to be key to understand the whole text, then look it up.
- Underline both the words you do not understand and any new grammar structures found in the text. Once you finish the chapter or the text section you are reading, take notes of everything you learn and build up bit by bit your own dictionary. A small note book will be enough for this purpose and it will help you remember everything you learn.
- Keep with you several texts available for reading, in a way that whenever you finish a book you have a new one ready. Ask for suggestions to people who also read in English or exchange books with your friends and acquaintances who are also studying English.
- This activity, like any other leisure activity, is more fun if you do it with other people. When it comes to reading this doesn’t mean reciting a text together but sharing your experiences or opinions on what you are reading with people who are undergoing the same learning process as you and hence they are interested in improving their command of a new language.
If you want to start practicing, you can try with this reading exercise:
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