Reading is like exercise for your brain.
It can improve your focus and memory.
It can help you learn new words and teach you things you didn’t know.
People read to relax, to learn or just to have fun.
But reading in English can be hard if you’re still learning the language.
It can be really tough if you’re trying to read material that’s too hard for you.
If you’re having to bother reading, you might think you need to take special lessons or classes.
But you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to!
You can improve your English reading skills by yourself.
You can do it right from home in your free time.
All you need are a few points to help you along.
And lucky you—that’s just what this article is about!
Getting Ready to Read
Before you start reading, take some time to prepare. Here are a few points to get you ready for reading.
Determine your reading level
Knowing your reading level will assist you find good reading materials and keep track of your progress.
There are a few different ways to decide your reading level.
With the Oxford Bookworms tests, you can discover your level by filling in missing words in stories.
The website A2Z Home’s Cool shows some other good ways to solve your reading level, using lists of words. These are meant for parents teaching their children, but can be valuable for anyone trying to improve their reading.
Even if you don’t know exactly what your level is, the ideal (perfect) reading level is one that is comfortable but also a little challenging
The other good thing about Find Your Reading Level is that you can’t fail. You find the right level for you in the similar fashion you choose a new shirt or pair of trousers that fit.
Determine the reading level of books before you choose themSome books (especially children’s books) include information on reading level.
If you want to fcheck the reading level of a book or article, you can put a page or more of it into this tool, and it will tell you everything you need to know about its level.
Choose the kind of reading you want to do
Will you be reading books for kids or adults? Fiction or non-fiction? Are you studying English so you can get a job or make friends? All these questions are important in choosing the kind of material to read. Find writing that’s interesting or appropriate to you.
If you’re not certain where to start, you can check out this post on easy English books.
If you’re fascinated in reading some English classics, you can find a list of free ones here.
If you love movies, why not read a book that inspired a movie adaptation?
Or maybe you prefer magazines. Magazine Line is a vast site for finding magazines that match your interests, whether those include news, sports, fashion, music, or something completely different. It’s an mostly good place to buy magazine subscriptions because they give you discounted rates (lower prices). If you’re a college student, you may be able to obtain an even lower rate on some magazines. (Inspectthe “Student and Educator Rates” section to find out how.)
Still can’t figure out what to read?
Browse through any summer book list, like these ones from the New York Public Library.
You can also browse websites like Goodreads or Amazon for lists of books created by members. Here’s a big one if you like mysteries, and another one if you want more variety.
Visit your local library…or don’t
You can get English books and other reading materials from your local library. If the selection there is not that considerable, try your library’s digital lending section.
You can also get discounted books from websites like Amazon or Half.com.
If you go for digital books, Project Gutenberg and Amazon are good places to start.
Find a good time to read
According to world statistics, it is better to read in the morning. … They would prefer to take a break during the afternoons and get to their reading and studying during the night-time. The reason for this is simply because students say that they are more awake and refreshed after taking a break.
Pick a time and place where you can read without interruption. Choose someplace quiet and well-lit, where you can sit comfortably for a while.
Have a notebook nearby
Have a notebook and pen or pencil close to you. This way, you can jot down new words as you read, or write notes if you like.
Now you’re ready to start reading…right?
But wait just a moment. Before you dive into your reading, there’s one last thing you should do!
How to Skim
Think about when you watch a movie. Before you go to the theater and spend money to see it, you probably want to know more about it. If none of your friends have seen it, you might watch the movie’s trailer.
The trailer tells you a little about what you’re going to watch. This way, you have an idea of what the movie is about before you watch it.
Skimming works the same way.
To skim means to glance over the text without fully reading it to get a general idea of what it’s about.
Skimming will become easier the more you do it.
Here are some tips for skimming your text:
- Read the title and first paragraph.
- Read all the headings and subheadings (the big words at the tops of some sections).
- Read the first sentences of a couple of paragraphs.
- Watch out for words in bold, italics, charts, pictures and lists (like this one!).
- Let your eyes wander over the page and stop on any words you don’t know.
- Try to understand what the main idea of the text is. See if you can answer the five Ws: who, what, where, when, why.
- Don’t spend too much time on skimming—five minutes at the most!
Try skimming this article. What can you learn about the content? You might conclude that the next section has some specific tips for increasing your reading skills. And you would be right! Moving on…
How to Read
So you have your perfect book. You’re sitting in a safe place and you have plenty of time. Next to you is your handy notebook.
Now we read!
Here are some tips to help you keep improving as you read.
To improve your reading skills, read a lot
As they say, practice makes perfect! The more you read, the better you’ll get.
Take your time
There’s no need to rush. It’s inconsequential if you read one page or one hundred. What matters is that you accept what you read. Pause if you’re tired. Re-read if you’re confused.
Read along with an audiobook if you can
If the book you’re reading has an audiobook version, read along with the narrator. This may force you to read at a slightly faster speed than is comfortable, which can help improve your fluency.
If you like reading together with audio, you may also want to try learning with FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news, and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. You can use interactive subtitles, flashcards, and vocabulary lists to improve your reading level and learn English better than ever!
Read phrases, not words
Have you ever gotten stuck reading one sentence over and over…and still not understanding it? Try backing away from the sentence. Try not to see it as being made out of words. Rather than reading the words one by one, read entire phrases. Don’t try to understand the meaning of each word. Make an effort to understand what they mean together. (If you’re jammed on words you don’t know often, that might be a sign you should move to a slightly easier book.)
Learn sight words
To learn to read entire sentences instead of individual words, work on learning sight words. Sight words are common words that appear often in texts. You can discover a list of some sight words on this website. Sight words are words that our eyes drift over as we read because we already know them.
Take a look at this sentence, for example:
“The cerulean cat is in a tree.”
You should only have to stop at the word “cerulean.” Inpassing, cerulean is a shade of blue.
What a strange cat…
Use context clues
Using context clues means trying to understand a new word by looking at what’s around it. If you’re stuck on a word you don’t know, try looking at the whole sentence for a clue about what it means.
In the cat sentence above, for example, you might not have knowledge what “cerulean” means. But you can at least figure out that whatever it is, it’s describing the cat. That might be all you need to know!
Don’t stop to look up every new word. It’s harder to focus on your reading if you keep interrupting it. You can write down the word and visit it later. Only look up a word if you can’t recognize what you’re reading without it.
Use your imagination
When you’re reading in English, it might be hard not to translate into your native language in your head. Don’t do this! Instead, try to picture what you’re reading.
Read for meaning, and test your understanding
After you finish reading, give yourself a few minutes to think about what you just read. How much did you understand? Try to gear up what you read. You can write it, say it out loud or just imagine it. If you can’t do this, you might have been too focused on the words rather than the meaning. Next time you read, try to emphasis less on each word you read, and more on what the text is trying to say.
Use these tips when you read, and you will find yourself getting better and better!
How to Work on Your Reading Speed
All speed reading techniques have one thing in common: you avoid pronouncing and “hearing” each word in your head as you read it, a process known as “sub-vocalization.” Instead, you “skim” lines or groups of words, as you can understand words more quickly than you can say them.
One way to stop yourself from pronunciation is to focus on blocks of words rather than on individual ones. Do this by relaxing your face and “softening” or tumefying your gaze on the page, so that you stop seeing words as single, distinct units. As you exercise this, your eyes will skip faster across the page.
Then, when you proceed towards the end of a line, allow your peripheral vision to take your eye to the final set of words. This will aid stop pauses in your reading (often at full points), meaning that you scan across and down to the next line more quickly.
Now let’s look at three methods to boost your reading speed:
1. pointer method
2. Tracker and pacer method
3. scanning (or previewing method)
Remember: The best way to learn is to practice.
So read read read!
(Thank you for all the views. Since the answer is reaching more readers, I thought it’s my responsibility to mention that I was answering the very question. I never meant to say it is “the best reading strategy”. It is the strategy that you can employ if you feel struck by unknown words. There is no absolute right way of reading. Whatever works for you, is the best policy for you!)