Home 9 Reading 9 The Truth of English Learning

Reading is the single best way to improve all of your language skills. Doubtless it sounds strange, but study after study have pointed to reading as being the key to developing skills in writing, listening and speaking.

The content of what you choose to read is not important. You can read comic books, magazines, or anything that is of interest to you, so long as it is in your target language. There should be no more than three words on a page that you don’t understand. If there are more than three, then your reading concentration is broken, and you become more concerned with the meaning of the words than you do with understanding the overall passage. Therefore, if there are more than three words on a page that you don’t understand, find something easier.

It is not important for you to understand every word on a page to gather meaning from a written passage. The fact is, you can take away 25% of the words used in writing English and still understand what everything is about: you don’t need articles, conjunctions and prepositions to get an understanding for what has been written. Therefore, when you encounter a word you don’t know, don’t stop to look it up, but rather keep reading. You will discover that either the word is not so important, or, if it is important, it will be repeated. If you cannot guess at the meaning with context clues, then by all means look it up after you have encountered the word three or four times.

Finally, give yourself enough time. You should be reading at least one hour every day. Find a quiet place for you to be alone and read. Studies show that it takes about fifteen minutes for your brain to relax and start processing the words from English to English. Most often we see a word, we translate the word to our mother tongue, and then we understand it. You need to go from the word on the page to immediate understanding. It takes a bit of time for this to happen but soon you will be reading and comprehending in English without any need for translation. This is why reading material at the appropriate level is so important.

In conclusion, the more you read in your target language, the sooner your other skills will increase as well. This has been proven by university research projects.

Try our Reading Exercises here.