In English as a Second Language, Learn English

4 Reasons to Improve Your English by Reading

Reading is one of the best activities you can do to improve your English every day. Yet, it is often the one skill that often gets overlooked for various reasons. One of the most common reasons is the lack of time. Another is that the text is just too hard. Still, some students don’t like to read, even in their native language. Many would prefer to watch a movie or a video on the Internet than to sit down and read. Books and magazines have a hard time competing with the immediacy of the Internet and cell phones. A lot of the time we could be reading gets used up by social media and surfing the web. However, actually sitting down with the mindful purpose to read an interesting article or book from start to finish can benefit both your brain and your English in many ways.

Reading Helps you Learn the Nuances of English Vocabulary

First, reading can give you access to a wide variety of vocabulary. Of course, you are probably already learning a lot of vocabulary if you are taking classes. Nevertheless, to truly incorporate a word into your vocabulary, you have to come into contact with it multiple times in different scenarios. There are some vocabulary words in English that have one very definite meaning, but not many. Over time, seeing words used in natural contexts will help a foreign language learner really understand the nuances of a word’s meaning. This is tremendously helpful because then the student will be able to adopt it into their brain’s vocabulary bank. In the future, when they hear that word in spoken English, they will already be familiarized with it. In turn, when they are searching their brains for the correct vocabulary words to construct sentences and carry on a conversation, they will feel confident they are choosing the correct vocabulary words to convey their meaning.

Reading with Intent Helps in English Conversations

Reading & Writing Informs Your Speaking

Thirdly, your writing skills can be greatly enhanced by reading. Well, you may be thinking that you really don’t need to write in English, so that’s not important. While it is true that you don’t need to write for most daily interactions in English, it is likely that you will need writing skills at some point. Just consider social media. As more and more of our communication is carried out by social media apps, it is important to know some basic skills in writing. Of course, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter are not known for their grammar correctness, but weird or awkward grammar structures could be confusing or worse, send the wrong message. On a more advanced level, if you want to study or work in the USA, you will be expected to write papers or send emails. In addition to these reasons – and what I find to be so important as a teacher of ESL students – writing informs your speaking. This means that writing is a safe place where you have time to think and develop sentence structures with correct subject-verb agreement, verb tenses, prepositions and word choices. In sum, by reading a variety of texts you can improve your writing which in turn will help you with your overall language competence.

Reading For Your Own Enjoyment Keeps you Motivated

I hope this blog has inspired you to go out and read. To find good “old-fashioned” reading material, your local library is a good start. Another really cool place to hang out is Half-Price Books. You can sit there and read on a rainy day, or on a really hot day, or just to get out of the house and explore on any day. Of course there are plenty of online resources for reading. You just have to find what is right for you. Set aside time each day when you can read. Stick with it until it becomes a habit. Over time, you will start to recognize all the benefits reading has for improving your English.

Happy Reading!

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