The idea of reading a book in a second language can be scary. Many people think they don't have the time, or that it will take too much effort. This does not need to be the case. Reading in a second language can be very enjoyable and motivating. It is also great for improving your knowledge of the language.
Today I will share with you some tips on how to be a better reader.
Tip no. 1 - You don't have to understand every word you read.
When you read, it is very important to remember that you don't need to understand every word to understand the overall text. A lot of the time, people who are starting to read in a second language make the mistake of using a dictionary for every word that is new to them. This slows down the reading process and makes reading less enjoyable. Think about it ... do you do this in your first language? Guessing the meaning of the word from the context is a much better sub-skill to improve your reading skills.
Tip no. 2 - Understand the overall content
When you begin to read in a second language, it is a good idea to try to summarise in your own words what you have just read. Start with paragraphs of texts, then pages and then chapters. By summarising, you are clarifying to yourself that you have understood the main points of the text.
Tip no. 3 - Take note of some words.
Reading is a great way to learn some new vocabulary. When you read a book, you often find the same word being repeated over and over because of the context of the story. This may apply to nouns and verbs especially. For example a book about a court case will use words related to the court room again and again. If you do find a word being used over and over, then take note of the word, and look it up in a dictionary if the meaning is not very clear. Notice how the word is being used by the writer at different times. Notice if the writer is using different forms of the word, for example making the noun into an adverb or adjective. The sub-skill of 'noticing' is very important to developing your language knowledge.
Tip no. 4 - Read in your first language, read in your second language
This is something I did a lot when I was learning Spanish. A metro newspaper published a short story each week in Spanish and in English. It was a great way to compare the vocabulary and sentence structures in both languages.
Later I used this technique when I was reading my first novel in Spanish. I read a few pages in English first and then the same few pages in Spanish. It was a slow process but I was very motivated when reading the Spanish book and excited at how much I could understand. I very rarely used a dictionary and could guess which part of the story I was reading from my memory of the English text.
Tip no. 5 - Read with a friend
If you need motivation to read a book in English, then read with a friend - just like a book club. Set you and your friend a weekly goal of a chapter or two. Then, each week try to get together to talk about what you have just read, and help each other out with vocabulary and meaning. It can make reading in a second language much more interesting and fun. When I was learning Spanish, my friend and I read books together. She was learning English, so she read the book in English, and I was learning Spanish so I read the book in Spanish. If either of us had a problem, we would help each other. After each chapter we would quickly compare notes before moving onto the next chapter.
Tip no. 6 - Make time in your week for your reading in a second language
If you want to begin reading in a second language, it's important to make time in your day or week for your reading. Maybe your time is on the train to work, or maybe it's during your lunch break. Having a set time is a good way to motivate you to read, even if it's just for 15 minutes a day.
Tip no. 7 - Enjoy the experience
Reading stories and books in our first language is a great hobby. We read because we enjoy the experience. Reading in a second language should be the same - it should be an enjoyable experience. So make sure you enjoy your reading experience. Start with something simple, and allow yourself the time to develop and improve. As you get better, the experience will get better too!
Have you any other tips on how to be a better reader in a second language? Please share you tips with in a comment!