Don’t Hold Back Your English Reading

english reading

Experienced teachers of reading see it all the time – learners who spend lots of time with English reading but something seems to hold them back.   In this article, I’ll give some advice to keep learners motivated and levelling up in their reading:

Pick the right reading content

One of the many ways that readers keep their skill level from progressing is to choose reading content that is either too easy or too difficult for them.  The result is that learners aren’t challenged enough from reading something and end up gaining nothing or even worse, they end up getting frustrated at their inability to decipher a text and just quit altogether.  It needs to be said that learners should be picky about the kinds of things they choose to read and the choosing process needs to be done in a systematic manner.  The next time you choose something to read, go through the first 100 words of the article or book and see how much you understand.  If you feel completely out of your depth, stop immediately and find something a little easier.  On the other hand, if those first 100 words are so easy that you’re bored, then go ahead and choose something more difficult.  Don’t waste your time with reading content that is not suitable for you!

Take notes

While you’re reading something, make sure that you keep a notebook nearby to jot down any difficult vocabulary words.  You should also try to write down what you think the text is trying to say in your own words.  Finally, write down any questions about the content that come up.  This is a good way of making sure that you “take something away” from the reading.  It also makes you an interactive reader who engages with the text rather than simply trying to get through it.

Talk to people

Reading can be a solitary task at times but it doesn’t have to be lonely.  When you read something, try to talk to other people who have read the same thing and check your understanding with each other.  Bring up any new words that you’ve learned and discuss any questions that popped into your head while you were reading.  You can also talk about your feelings during the reading and what you thought of the style, content, etc.

Read lots of different things

Many learners believe that only a certain genre of reading is useful.  Students studying for TOEFL tests tend to read only academic materials, for example.  The result is that you get exposed to a narrow range of vocabulary and writing, which can actually make things harder down the line.  Reading in other genres – fiction, letters, biographies, magazine articles, etc. can really give you a better understanding of how words are used across different contexts and a deeper understaning of vocabulary and word usage.

Dare to compare

When you read something, be sure to keep your previous reading efforts in mind.  Maybe an author uses a word differently than another.  Maybe one author disagrees with another.  One author is an optimist while another is a pessimist, for example.  Perhaps an author from one culture has a completely different perspective about a subject than an author from another culture.Understanding how readings are similar or different from each other is a key part of really “getting” a text and looking at it from a new perspective.  This can make reading interesting and it offers a chance for inner growth and understanding, which makes reading worthwhile.