Reading tips

My students often ask me how they can become better readers.  I tell them that the more they practice, the better they will get.  In other words, they need to read more.  One way to do this is to get any English newspaper and read it everyday.  Here in Vancouver, we have 2 free newspapers, which you can get on many street corners.  They are written in a simpler English but not an overly simple ESL English.  Even 15 minutes of reading a day can make you much better even over a short 10-week period.  The advantage to reading a newspaper is that you may already know the news stories because you have read or heard about them in your first language.  If you are now going to school to learn English, you can go to the library there and find ESL novels.  Just ask the librarian to show you where they are.  These books are often popular stories that you may have already read in your first language, but they are written for people learning English, so they are much easier to understand.  Yes, you will see new vocabulary, but if it’s a novel at the correct level for you, it won’t have more than 6 new words on one page.  That means that a whole novel will introduce to you hundreds of new words.  Every time you read one of these new words, you remember it a little better and increase your English vocabulary.  Having a good vocabulary will make you a better reader.  I always tell my students not to use their dictionaries when they read.  I tell them to guess at the meaning of a new word and keep reading.  It’s much better to read continuously than to stop every time there’s a word that’s new to you, forcing you to use your dictionary.  Stopping six times on every page will make reading a chore, and you won’t enjoy it.  Reading should be fun!  When you learn how to guess at the meaning of a new word, your reading will be much faster, and you’ll be more interested in the story.  How do you guess?  You look at the words around the new word and figure out what kind of word it is (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.).  If you decide it’s a verb, for example, then you know it’s some kind of action, so make a guess.  When you see the new word a second time (and you will), guess again and see if it’s the same guess you made the first time.  If it is, then you’re probably right about the meaning of the word.  If it isn’t the same, then and only then will you need to use your dictionary.

Click on the audio recording  below to hear the lesson.


period – length of time
advantage – the part that makes something easier
novel – a book that tells a story
popular – known all over the world
introduce – show you
increase – make bigger
vocabulary – all the words that you know
dictionary – a book with the meanings of words
guess – give a word a meaning even though it could be wrong
continuously – without stopping
chore – a job you don’t want to do
action – doing something

Pronunciation Exercise:  Listen and repeat the vocabulary on the audio file below.

© 2012 Ambien Malecot