Reading is almost like an exercise for the brain. It can help in improving your memory and focus. English reading helps in improving grammar, accelerates vocabulary and lets you have a better grip over the language. Reading can help you in learning new words and teaches you things that you didn’t know about.
Reading is a fun activity for many. Some people read to learn, and others just read to relax and have fun. It is always better to read materials that suit your level of understanding. Even though reading only partially impacts your spoken English, it can help you in learning new words, strengthening your passive vocabulary and better your knowledge of English.
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Always Take Out Suitable Time To Read
Here we have listed down a few ways in which reading can help you in improving your English.
Reading as a fun activity can be done anywhere. You can take a book of your interest and read it when you’re travelling to your destination, in the office, in bed or even in a coffee shop when you’re waiting for a friend. Reading can be enjoyed anywhere and everywhere.
However, if you are reading anything, that will help you in improving your knowledge and comprehension, you must focus in order to study. For this kind of reading, you need to set aside special time. Dedicating time for your reading will allow you to focus without the risk of being interrupted. This time should quiet, and you should be in a place where you can avoid being distracted.
One should try and spend at least 30 minutes every day on focused reading. This will be beneficial in improving your reading skills seriously and successfully. The more you read, the more will you improve.
Try these following steps:
Make your reading procedure a ritual – something that you repeat every time you sit down to focus on reading English. Make the following steps a part of your reading process for you to be able to focus better on your reading.
- Find a place that is quiet, cosy, comfortable and has proper lighting.
- Prepare everything that you might need before you sit down to study. Avoid getting up often, which will make you lose your concentration.
- Put away all your electronics and make sure you don’t touch them before you finish studying. Technology is the worst distracter, and once you lose your concentration because of electronics, it becomes very difficult to focus again.
- Decide how long you want to read for. It is always better to set a goal that allows you to be mentally prepared.
- If one has a specific process of preparing to read, then their brain will know when they are about to read, and they will more be focused even before they start.
- Read The Right Books
Choosing the correct book to read is one of the most important steps that you must undertake. When choosing a book, you should keep in mind two things – what interests you and what is your level of reading. Sometimes choosing books also depends on what you feel like reading. You can choose from various genres of books such as mystery, thriller, romance, comedy, tragedy, or anything that interests you.
Whenever you can, you should take out time to read things that you enjoy. You must always keep in mind to choose books which suit your level of English – this will make you comfortable to read it. Otherwise, if you choose a book which is not of your level, you might feel boring while reading it or not resonate with what the book is about.
Try these following steps:
- If you are not sure what to read and where to start from, there are a number of websites online where you can find recommendations – this will help you choose your book.
- If you are a beginner to the language, try and choose books which have an easy language. This will make it easier to understand and keep you hooked to the book.
- Discover what your areas of interests are. Learn about the genres that you can resonate with the most. This will make the process of reading interesting for you and will make you fall in love with the practice of it.
- Ask Lots Of Questions
Asking questions when reading plays a crucial role in understanding the texts for the readers. Asking questions allows one to understand as to why they are reading the text. This practice gives them readers the chance to make predictions about the texts and then, later on, change their thinking.
Asking questions will allow the readers to make connections based on things that they already know about, and it also allows the reader to decide whether the content for good or not. Asking questions gives readers the opportunity to review important information about the text and gives them the chance to clarify their doubts.
Try these following steps:
One can ask the questions in three different times – before they read when they are reading and after they are done reading. Questions before one start reading require them to take a look at the title of the book, the author and the cover art.
- The title might give the readers some clue as to what the book might be about – maybe the name of a character, the setting of the text or the genre.
- If the reader is familiar with the author, it may be helpful for them. Having knowledge about the author’s style may give the reader some prior knowledge or idea as to what the book might hold.
- The cover often helps readers to have a visual about the text as to about the setting of the text, the characters, the feelings or even a problem.
- Often the title and the cover art of the book will help the reader in identifying the author’s purpose of writing the text.
Asking questions when a reading helps the reader in focusing their thinking on what the story is about. Is this practise they have a better understanding of the content. One will discover, wonder or question things like the following:
- The main idea of the text.
- Plot or theme of the story.
- Problem and its solution.
- Characters and how the writer portrays their moods and how their feelings change.
- What might happen next?
All these questions help in keeping the reader focused on the story, which, in turn, helps their comprehension of the story. These questions are the ones that will keep you hooked on to a book.
After reading a text, you might have a few questions in your mind, such as:
- Why was the plot of the story the way it was?
- What inspired the writer to write something like this?
- Why a certain character did something.
- Why the author decided to put an end the story in that manner.
- Which was your favourite part?
- Which was the part that took you by surprise?
- Was there any part that made you emotional?
This is also the time to reflect upon the questions asked before and during the reading.
- Were your questions answered in the book?
- Can there be a continuation of the book to give an explanation for the unanswered questions?
- Were they able to reach to an answer when they completed the text?
- Are there any questions that cannot be answered and don’t need to be answered because it will not help with the understanding of the story?
One might always have various other questions depending on the text that they read; these are a few good ones to start with.
Stay Curious and Follow a Certain Pattern of Reading
The proper way of learning how to read and improve English is more than just reading the words. It is also about processing the information and understanding it. There are a few things one can do before, during and after reading, which will help them to understand the text better.
Before you start to read, browse through the text. Take a quick look over the text without actually reading every word. After you are done reading, take some time to browse again and try to summarise what you read and what you remember. This especially is helpful when you are reading a text, and you need to concentrate. Setting a pattern that suits you will help you in concentrating.
Try these following steps:
- Before you start reading, here are a few things that you can look for when browsing through the text.
- Are there any words in bold or italics?
- Are there a lot of dialogues?
- Is there any title or subtitles?
- What is the size of the paragraphs?
- After you are done reading, here are a few things that you might want to think about which will help you understand and make you think about what you did or what you did not understand.
- What was the book about?
- Are there any parts that confused you?
- Is there any part of the text that you failed to understand?
- Did the text interest you?
- Take time to think about what you read in the text. This will allow you to comprehend and realise how much of it you understood.
- Try and quickly write or say a few sentences that describe what the text was about.
- Look for the meaning of words that you did not understand in the text. This will help you in learning a new word and using it in the future.
Following a pattern, every time you read helps your brain to be more prepared and become more alert. In this manner, you become more observant of the text and might have a better understanding of any text that you read.
- Improve Fluency First
Fluency is how smoothly one can read. When you are reading, in your head, there should be a certain rhythm to words. The words should be flowing together naturally, just like when someone is talking.
Reading fluency is the ability of one to able to read accurately, smoothly and with expression. Fluent readers are able to recognise words automatically, without struggling with any decoding issues – they sound natural as if they are speaking. Whereas, not-fluent readers read slowly and sometimes sound choppy.
Fluency is necessary because it helps in bridging between word recognition and comprehension. On the other hand, non-fluent readers spend more time on decoding, which leaves less time for the comprehension of the text. Often they have to read the same passage several times to attain comprehension.
Improving fluency can be a simple process of choosing slightly easier texts for reading. If one takes time to improve how fluently they read, it will be beneficial for the future. One will be able to improve not only their reading but also their speaking. This will also make your reading process more fun and natural.
Try the following steps:
Many words that you find when reading are actually ‘sight words’. These are words that one must know about by sight. One should not have to think about how to read these words. Reading sight words can be practised really quickly. You just need to find a list of sight words and take about a minute or two each day to read the words as fast as you can.
If you are unfamiliar with the words, it’s a good idea to look them up beforehand. However, remember that this exercise is about being able to read fluently not understand more. Once you are able to read at a comfortable speed, you can start focusing on the understanding.
Once You’ve Learned To Speed Up, Now Slow Down!
Once you have reached the stage of reading where you are now confident in your English fluency, you can stop worrying about your speed. You can now take time to think about the text and its meaning.
Now that you can read fast, it’s time to read slowly. Take time to really get into the text that you are reading, instead of speeding through it. Reading slowly will give you more time to comprehend what you read and have a better understanding of the text. Reading is not fulfilled until you accomplish the fluency and understand the meaning of the text.
Try these following steps:
One great way in which you will be able to slow yourself down when reading, is to read out loud. Not only will this practice help your reading and understanding skills but also your speaking, listening and pronunciation—the focus of speaking every word loudly, carefully and pronouncing it well.
If you are unable to read out loud, or you don’t want to, you can try pausing after every few paragraphs. This will help you in making sure that you are paying attention. Another very effective way of pacing yourself well is making notes. Write down as you read, this practice will help you in remembering pieces of stuff better.
- Read It Again
Sometimes reading a text only once is not enough to be able to understand it wholly. This is always true when one is reading something difficult – or even if you are not. Reading something more than once can help you in understanding it much more.
Re-reading is a beneficial practice for those times when you read the words but get them to make sense. There have been times when re-reading a text, and one finds a completely different meaning of a situation or a dialogue. Sometimes even people are able to understand something that they couldn’t earlier.
This practice is also an excellent way of finding out the thing that you missed for the first time. If the text has any new words, you will notice them again every time you read; this will help you in remembering them.
Try these following steps:
Choose a small area that you want to read, not more than a few paragraphs. This could be a news article or a story, anything that you want – as long as you are interested in the text.
Read the article at the pace which is suitable for you. Then write down everything that you can remember from the article that you just read. Write down every single detail that you can remember. Even write down parts of sentences if you can remember them.
Now, repeat the process.
Read that article again. Write down everything that you remember again. You will notice for yourself that how much you can remember the second time around. Every time you some time, you have a better understanding of it. If you are looking forward to getting the most out of your reading, try and read three or more times.
The first time you read, focus on understanding the words. The second time around, focus on the meaning, make sure that the second you go slower in your reading process. Start asking yourself deeper questions such as ‘what inspired the writer to write this?’ or ‘has this text impacted the lives and mind-sets of people?’
Read Various Kinds Of Texts
In today’s world, we don’t just read books or newspapers. We also read emails, blogs, Tweets and even texts. The more you spend time reading anything in English, the more understand you will have of the language.
Don’t just read books or newspapers to try and read anything and everything. Find anything that interests you like a magazine that you might enjoy, visit a blog that like reading, or follow people or websites of your interest on various social media platforms. Whatever you choose to read, remember the more you practise, the better you’ll get.
Try these following steps:
- If you have trouble in discovering new things to read, there are a number of websites that take news and other interesting articles and put them together for you to look through. These websites are a great place to be able to find things that suit your areas of interest.
- Explore new texts that are out of your comfort zone. If you have a particular kind of genre that you enjoy reading or a particular writer that you always stick to try and explore more types of genres and writers. You can always start with similar ones and slowly move to new types.
Follow these steps in your process of improving English. You might suddenly discover that you are reading and understanding better not only this language but also your native language.
Here are A Few Tips For Reading:
- Often people find reading original novels in English intimidating to read. If you have the same feeling, then you must try and watch the movie first. Often popular books have been adapted into a film version. Watching the movie will give you a basic understanding of the storyline. It also a great practise in improving your pronunciations and vocabulary.
- Most novels are available in the form of an audiobook. If you feel like reading takes too much time, then you can try to listen to an audiobook when driving, or cooking or relaxing.
- Try to read a book that has dual language. Dual language books have the original English text on one page and the translation into the language of your choice on the other. This will give you a chance at quickly referring to your language if you fail to understand the English text.
- Take time in analysing the language of the book. Always keep an eye on how the writer uses words and constructions in English. Novels use both formal as well as informal languages. These languages are often used in everyday life.
- When you have taken time to finish your novel, it’s time for you to choose the next one. If you feel confident with where you stand, try and choose a more advanced book. Reading books that have been written by the same author can make your life easier. However, trying new authors will help you in learning about yourself and your interests.
- If you are reading a fairly old book, you may find words or phrases that might not be in use today. Try to look for the phrase on the web to see if it is still popular and in use in modern English.
How Can Literature Help You In Improving Your English?
If one is looking forward to becoming more fluent in English, they must keep pushing themselves. Reading original English books is an excellent way of doing it. Even if you are an intermediate English reader, by using simple novels and books, you can make good progress.
Let’s take a look as to how reading can help in improving English:
- Real English – Modern novels and books showcase real examples of how English is used today. Textbooks, however, do not always do this as they are written in a simpler manner for non-narratives. Novels can also teach you how to express ideas, show emotions, and tell a story in English. Literature can also be used to find examples of realistic conversations between native people.
- Accuracy –There a great authors who are masters of the language English. They use the perfect style and form in their writing. For you to improve your grammar and written English, there is no better teacher compared to a good book. When you start reading books regularly, you begin to understand English more through passive learning.
- Vocabulary –Even if you are someone who speaks English well, there is always more than you can learn. A good novel will not only be simple and easy to understand but also will introduce you to new words. Reading books and novels will give you the chance to learn vocabulary in the context of a story. This implies you will have a better understanding of how words and phrases are used in everyday conversations.
- Interaction –When you read a novel or a book in English, you are spending time interacting with the language. Many books have several layers of meanings which can be understood in different ways. When you are able to start developing your thoughts and opinions on a story, you are able to create a personal relationship with the language.
- Reward –Reading a novel might seem like a lot of work. However, it is one of the most rewarding ways in which you can improve your English. When you read a novel, you use English to achieve your goal. In other words, you are reading and at the same time translating in order to be able to understand and enjoy the story. If you use English as a practical tool in this way, you are one step closer to fluency.
10 Simple Novels in English for You To Read
As mentioned earlier in the article, choosing the right kind of book that suits your area of interest and matches your level of English is one of the most vital steps. Here we have listed five novels for you to choose from which will give you a head start in your reading journey.
1. Harry Potter – JK Rowling
Harry Potter is a book that everyone has heard about even if they have not read it. or at least seen the films. These books are a must-read for every English student who enjoys reading fantasy novels. The series has seven books, and these books get progressively longer and more advanced in its English. It is always better, to begin with, the first.
2. The Wind in the Willows
The Wind in the Willows, authored by Kenneth Grahame, is a classic tale that takes place in the English countryside sharing the adventures of the animals that live by the river. The author’s imaginative stories with the use of simple language make this book a pleasurable read for both children as well as adults.
3. The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea, authored by Ernest Hemingway, is the story of an old Cuban fisherman trying to chase the biggest catch of his life. All on his own, and miles out to sea, he fights a battle with the fish for several days.
The book throws light over many themes, such as ‘man vs. nature’ as well as the idea of masculinity. The way that this book deals with these themes is what makes it one of the most famous and successful novels that have been written in English.
4. Empty World – John Christopher
In the novel, when Nick’s parents die in a car crash, he moves to live with his grandparents. Shortly after his move, a deadly virus spreads across the world, killing most of the population. Nick is left alone, and he has to survive in a lonely and empty world.
The language used in the novel Empty World is simple as it has been written for a teenage audience. However, the novel is disturbing, dark and thought-provoking as any adult book. Although the book might be easy to read, it is also one of those books which will keep you thinking.
5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lord of the Flies, written by author William Goulding, is a modern classic novel. It is also a popular one to be read at school. Lord of the Flies begins with a plane crash that leaves a group of boys marooned on an island. On being left alone on that island, they elect their leader and create a society.
Things start going downhill, and war for leadership begins. The boys turn rebellious and for two rival tribes. This results in panic fear, and death. This book will make you think about the nature of humans and question yourself.
6. About a Boy – Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby, the writer of the book, is one of the most popular modern English authors. Many of his books have made it as the bestsellers that have also been adapted into popular movies. About a Boy is also one of them.
It is a funny story about an immature man who behaves like a boy and a serious young boy who behaves like a man. They are opposites in a number of ways; but, they become friends and help each other in understanding their hearts.
The most amazing thing about this novel is that it teaches both formal as well as informal English. Hornby writes his novels with a lot of energy. This makes his books exciting to read. In this extract, he has shown the cynical way the main character sees the world – which implies he does not trust people’s intentions.
7. High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
A must-read for any music lover, High Fidelity is another book by Nick Hornby. It is a modern story in which a casual style of language has been used, and it has been written from the point of view of the main character, Rob. Rob is a heartbroken vinyl record store owner who lives in north London. The story has a quick-pace fell along with short and funny conversations between characters that keep the story moving.
8. 1984 – George Orwell
George Orwell holds a special place in the hearts of many British people. There is even a prize that has been named after him – the Orwell Prize. It is awarded to the best political writing across the world.
1984 is a novel that is based on an imaginary and unpleasant world. It is the opposite of a ‘utopia’, which is an imaginary perfect society. It was released in the year 1948 and looked forward towards a future where dictators are running the world, and everyone is constantly being monitored.
9. To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird, by author Harper Lee, is a classic American novel that many students have used in the US in middle schools and high school. The novel was published in 1960 and was an instant success.
The book has been set in the United States and is based on a crime in a small, rural town and its repercussions. The plot of the book and the characters have loosely been based on Lee’s observation of her family, her neighbours and an event that occurs near her hometown Monroeville, Alabama in the year 1936 when she was ten. The novel became a classic of modern American literature and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
10. The Great Gatsby
The writer of the book, F. Scott Fitzgerald, is an example of how poetic you can be with the English language. Set in the 1920s of America, this novel looks at the idea of love and the American Dream. This book is one of the best-selling books ever written in English.
Even though this book is comparatively harder than the books mentioned, you can learn many new words from this book. Fitzgerald uses images and a wide range of vocabulary to bring out the beauty of the language. This book may be a little complicated in places, and beginners are suggested not to start with this book. For the people who have a better understanding of the language, this book will keep you turning pages.