13 Aug 2016

Tips for Reading English

Reading is one of life’s great joys – long before the invention of the television or computers and the internet, books (and libraries) or magazines brought knowledge, adventure, fantasy and, of course, fun to the masses.

Reading is fun! It’s perfect for learning English.

There’s no better way to see (and often hear in your own mind), how the English Language works in all its complexity and, sometimes, simplicity.

A book will usually have been edited by a professional, so you can (usually) be sure that most of the words and phrases you read are spelt correctly and are grammatically correct.

What’s more, whilst you’re reading, you are often imagining the scene the words are trying to convey, so there’s no better way to put words into context.

Ask yourself questions

Don’t just accept the words on the page. Question why the writer used the word they did. If you see a word on the page you’re aren’t sure of, make a note to look it it up as soon as you can. Sometimes, a word  can change the whole meaning of what you’re reading, so keep that dictionary and thesaurus close by.

This writer remembers battling with the word metamorphosis in younger days – which led to a lifelong interest in words and biology. For the record, metamorphosis means a change in structure of the body – for example, a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis to become a butterfly.


Often when we begin reading (especially when English isn’t our first language,) we concentrate so hard on each individual word, that we lose the context of the sentence it’s in. This in turn stops us from becoming fluent readers  – how smoothly we move from word to word – our reading rhythm, so to speak.

With practice (there’s that magic word again) some words will become second nature and we don’t have to think about their meaning when we see them on the page, meaning our speed of understanding improves, and things flow much more naturally making reading that much more enjoyable.

Start your reading journey with texts that interest you, fact or fiction, maybe choosing something slightly easier – you are learning English after all.

Remember that emails, texts, posters and signs can also be rich sources of learning – the English Language will be all around you if you look hard enough. Read everything!

The courses at Sounds English will help you read, write and speak better English, but the more effort you put in, the faster you’ll learn.

Chris Ryu

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