Tips For Developing English Reading Skills

ESL students often need advice on how to improve their reading skills. Unlike speaking and listening, developing reading skills is something a student can do on their own, therefore it is a skill that can be improved quickly. Here are some helpful tips:

1. Do not try to understand each word you read Reading exposes him to a new language, but it is not a ‘vocabulary’ activity. Focus on developing reading comprehension: understanding the main ideas of the text and looking for key information.

2. If you are reading a short piece of text, such as an article, the first step is to read the full text quickly to connect your mind with the information. Then read the article again, but slowly, for more details. Always read like this in the reading section of a test.

3. When you come across a word you don’t know, read the information ‘around’ the word and then read the sentences before and after it. They will give you clues as to what that word could mean. For example:

“I love going to the movies. I really enjoyed the last one Bill Blue was in. It’s a great dbyntillthy. My favorite, in fact!”

You don’t know what ‘dbyntillthy’ means, but when you read the word, you can guess that it probably means actor (dbyntillthy isn’t a real word, of course!).

4. Use a dictionary to look up keywords only (such as nouns and verbs that you must understand to receive the message). Don’t search for every word, this stops the flow of thought.

5. Read books written for children and/or teenagers (depending on your level of English). The English language and grammar are simpler and the concepts are easier to understand.

6. Reading newspapers can be difficult. The structure of the language is different and the concepts are advanced. Some newspapers are written for college-educated readers, while others are written for the general public. Read online English newspapers written for less educated English speakers – they will be much easier to read! For example, in Australia, The Australian is more advanced than the Daily Telegraph. In England try the Daily Mail, and in Canada try the Toronto Star. Also, many non-English speaking countries have an English newspaper, such as the Korea Times or the Viet Nam News.

One final thought… if you can read this, thank a teacher! — anonymous

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