How to Combine Reading for Fun and Reading to Practise English
1. Questions to ask yourself
Take some time to think about what you want to get from the reading experience.
Are you someone who loves novels and wants to get lost in a story?
Do you want to learn the culture of a place through a travel or history book?
Would you like the challenge of reading a story you know well, but in English this time?
2. How to choose a book
When you read a book in English, it’s best to try something that challenges you, but that you understand the gist of. For a narrative, you might find it helpful to look up the synopsis of the story in English or your own language before you start reading. If this is your first time reading a book in English, regardless of your level, it’s best to choose something no more than 150 pages. Don’t make the task too daunting!
3. While you’re reading
Okay, now you’ve got your book and are comfortably nestled on the sofa. How do you begin?
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to interrupt the flow.
Read the first page without looking up any words or writing anything down. How much did you understand? If you feel overwhelmed, maybe the level is a bit too high for you. If you feel like you get the general idea, keep going.
Read the next six pages or the rest of the chapter with a pencil or highlighter in hand. When you come across a new word, highlight it but keep reading.
At the end of the chapter, copy some of the new words into your vocabulary book. This should be done in language chunks, by which I mean either the whole sentence or the words that work together to make the specific meaning. This could be a collocation, for example verb + preposition (e.g. look forward to…) The more you analyse the sentence, the more you will realise how words work together to create meaning (e.g. look forward + to + noun / …ing verb)
4. Important rules to keep in mind
Don’t look up all the new words you encounter. Some of them you will be able to guess from the context. Some of them won’t stop you from understanding the overall story. Remember, you’re reading for fun! So if you only decide to copy down expressions related to one topic, e.g. the tourism industry, that’s completely okay.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. At the end of the day, remember that there is no exam at the end of this. You sometimes lose focus when reading in your native language, so of course reading a book in a foreign language will be the same. Make sure you enjoy the experience, so if that means alternating between analysing one chapter and reading the next one without taking notes, go for it!
The best way to remember new language is to use it. Try to incorporate the words into your speech or writing. This can be during your lessons, in your weekly diary or when chatting with international friends.
Think how many more worlds are open to you with your new English competence!