Some question the importance of reading when learning a new language as speaking and grammar are often favoured above all else. At the same time people don’t read as much as they did before because there is just so much television to watch! I do believe that there is value in watching English movies and TV as any exposure to the language is valuable, but do not underestimate the value of reading English. It is a fantastic way to be exposed to vocabulary and grammatical structures in a more natural way. But if you dread the idea of opening a dusty old copy of Shakespeare, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to make reading English enjoyable.
1. As with anything in life, if something is meaningful to you, you will get more out of it. This means choosing to read about topics that interest you.
2. For those at lower levels, choose graded readers. These are books that have been simplified especially for second language readers. And don’t worry about reading children’s books or comics. As long as you find it enjoyable, it is going to be useful.
3. Don’t worry about looking up and understanding every word as this will drive you mad. See if you can understand the gist of the paragraph by looking at it as a whole. You are bound to understand more than you think you can and will certainly enjoy it more.
4. Newspapers and magazines are fantastic for small, manageable articles. Once again, read what interests you.
5. Read books in English that you have read in your native language. This will give you more confidence and also ensure that you are not bogged down by each word.
6. Join an ESL book club where you can discuss books that have been read by the whole group. This will also have the added benefit of speaking practice.
At Oxford English Academy we have a library in each school and reading is done during class as well. We encourage our students to read as much as possible and our teachers are well-equipped to recommend reading materials. So don’t let your reading fall by the wayside. Pick up a book that appeals to you and get reading. You will love what it does for your English learning.