Reading in English

     In today's modern technological world, it may seem a little old fashioned to crack open a book and read.  However, reading is still an important activity that English learners need to participate in.  Reading can help students learn new vocabulary and colloquial expressions, and gain grammar knowledge.  In this article, we will look at some reasons why students need to read, how they can learn to read purposefully, and some strategies to make reading easier for them.

Why Read in English?

     The most important reason to give English learners an opportunity to read is that it will strengthen their general language-learning skills by providing them access to new vocabulary, new colloquial terms, and grammar knowledge.

     Reading opens many doors to new vocabulary.  Books come in as many topics as there are ideas in the world.  Students can learn all they need to know about a topic that they find interesting by reading a book on it.  Books are highly likely to be full of new words that students aren't familiar with.  Reading gives students the opportunity to expose themselves to new words, look up their meanings, and then re-expose themselves to them throughout the text.

     The exposure and re-exposure of the new vocabulary are exactly what students need in order to retain the meaning of new words.  This, in turn, will not only help future reading comprehension but it will also help students to use the new vocabulary in future conversations.

City versus Country Reading Booklet CP.j

City versus Country English Reading Booklet and Worksheet

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Health and Personal Hygiene Reading Book

Health and Personal Hygiene English Reading Booklet and Worksheet

​     Grammar structures in English are especially difficult for beginning English students to learn.  Listening to the language can help students to begin to put the pieces of the English grammar puzzle together, but reading the structures in printed form, can actually help students internalize English grammar patterns. 

     Reading helps students to become familiar with repetitive words that are used in different grammar tenses.  This will help cement them into student's minds and give them more confidence when speaking.

     Reading also helps students to begin to notice the way that words are organized into sentences.  As English can be structured very differently than their native language, it is important for students to begin to recognize those differences, in order to help them to avoid structuring English, in the same way, that they structure their native tongue.

​     Grammar structures in English are especially difficult for beginning English students to learn.  Listening to the language can help students to begin to put the pieces of the English grammar puzzle together, but reading the structures in printed form, can actually help students internalize English grammar patterns. 

     Reading helps students to become familiar with repetitive words that are used in different grammar tenses.  This will help cement them into student's minds and give them more confidence when speaking.

     Reading also helps students to begin to notice the way that words are organized into sentences.  As English can be structured very differently than their native language, it is important for students to begin to recognize those differences, in order to help them to avoid structuring English, in the same way, that they structure their native tongue.

       Finally, reading English is a fantastic way to learn colloquial words phrases or slang.  Every language in the world has its formal and informal forms.  These forms can be markedly different from one another.  

     It is important for learners to be exposed to everyday English otherwise they will have a hard time understanding native speakers when they visit with them.

     Learning colloquial phrases is not only important for students to understand others but it is very important for students who don't want to sound like a grammar book when they speak.  Using common phrases and slang helps the speaker sound more natural, which in turn, helps a conversation flow more naturally.

Imperatives Reading Booklet, Worksheet,

Imperatives English Reading Booklet and Worksheet

How To Read in English

     There are many different ways to read English.  It can be read for pleasure or purpose, read silently or out loud, read for the gist of things or for the complete comprehension of every word.  Let's take a look at each of these options below.

​     Reading is a relaxing pleasurable activity for millions of people all over the world.  There is nothing like curling up with a novel on a cold winter's day or in a warm bathtub full of bubbles.  However, if you want your students to learn to read in a foreign language you will need to encourage them to do a little more than that. 

     Students should be encouraged to read purposefully.  This means that they should read slowly or at a pace that is comfortable for them.  This is great for students to do privately.  It helps them feel on top of things.  They never have to feel like they are lagging behind other students like they might feel while reading out loud in a classroom.

​     As students read, encourage them to read actively by looking for common vocabulary words they already know or by looking up words that they don't understand.  It helps to write down the words and their meanings next to them. 

     The last thing that students will need to do in order to read purposefully is to reread the text after understanding what the unknown vocabulary words mean.  They will probably surprise themselves when they realize how much easier the text is to read the second time around.  This will encourage the students to keep reading.  Soon, they will be reading as much as possible.

     A second decision that readers will need to make is whether to read silently or out

Crime and Law Enforcement Reading Bookle

     A second decision that readers will need to make is whether to read silently or out loud.  Reading silently is necessary in many situations, for obvious reasons.  Reading out loud on a city bus or at night when the family is trying to sleep may be frowned upon but reading out loud is very important for several reasons.  

     Reading out loud will help students to slow down and really realize what they are reading about which improves comprehension.  It also helps students to familiarize themselves with words and how to pronounce them.  

     Reading out loud is also great practice for editing written text.  When you read out loud you get a better feel for how the words, phrases, and sentences flow together or fight each other.  Students should always read all written texts out loud before handing them in to be graded.

Crime, Law, and Courts English Reading Booklet and Worksheet

     Finally, students should be instructed to choose a point in their reading whether it be a paragraph, page, or chapter, where they will remind themselves to take a moment to pause and see how much they have been able to understand.

     Sometimes students can become mesmerized by the lines they are reading and lulled into a daze by the words they don't understand so it's very important that they learn to stop periodically and check-in with themselves. 

     Instruct students to try and summarize where they are in the text at their check-in point.  If they have a difficult time with the summary, they need to go back to the point that they can do a summary effectively and then begin reading once more from that point.  

     Remind students that there will be many words that they haven't learned yet and structures that they don't recognize but emphasize that it is not time to panic.  Reinforce the idea that reading gives them the chance to be in control of their learning.  Also, remind them that there is no rush to finish the text so they should remember to enjoy the read while they visualize what the author intended them to see.

City versus Country Reading Booklet CP.j

City versus Country

English Reading Booklet and Worksheet

Friendship Activites Reading Booklet CP.

Friendships English Reading Booklet and Worksheet

English Reading Strategies

     There are many opinions and strategies about the best way to go about learning to read a second language but I'm going to focus on what I believe are the top three, starting small with an interesting topic, keeping a word log, and making reading practical by reading a parallel text.

     Nothing is more important when it comes to reading than picking an interesting topic and starting with smaller texts.  Students need all the enthusiasm they can muster up when it comes to reading a foreign language so be sure to provide them with a wide variety of topics to choose from. 

     This will help motivate students to continue reading when they come across challenging sections.  Without an enjoyable topic, what reason will students have to continue?  Whether your students are reading tabloids or scientific journals, their interest in the topic will remind them that reading is meant to be a leisurely and enjoyable activity.

     There is another important factor when it comes to keeping the interest of your students.  The reading texts should be short and easy to read no matter what the topic.  The more the students don't understand something, the longer it will take them to read it.  This alone can turn a leisurely activity into work.

     Try giving your students a good link to a free news magazine or news website.  The articles are usually on the short side and they typically use language that is common to the topic.  News articles can not only keep a student up to date but they can provide a constant stream of new information for your students to compare in their native language.  

     Blog posts are another excellent resource to get your students connected to reading.  Many blogs are continued from week to week so they hook the readers by keeping them in suspense.  This catches the reader's attention, which in turn, motivates the readers to log in each week for the next post.

​     There are many other short texts that are available online and free of charge.  Children's books have intriguing stories that can captivate the imagination of adults too.  Short stories are often available in dual languages and are a great way to check for meaning.  Poems are a nice length and can add a bit of thoughtfulness to a student's reading materials and finally, song lyrics are useful because they are often poems put to music, which can not only be studied for new vocabulary but for overall meaning and intention as well.

Present Simple Tense Verb Be Reading Boo

Present Simple with verb Be Reading Booklet and Worksheet

Computer Technology Reading Booklet CP.j

Computer Technology English Reading Booklet and Worksheet

     Another reading strategy that helps to improve your student's understanding and comprehension is keeping a word log or journal.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy or formal.  Just have your students get a notebook and jot down words that they don't recognize as they read.  

     Tell your students to pic a check-point as they did above for reading comprehension.  In fact, having the same check-point for both general and word comprehension is probably the most effective and efficient way to keep the journal.

    Keep in mind that beginning students don't need to write down every single word they don't know.  If students stop to frequently to write words down, they are likely to become disconnected from the story.  Remember that the point is to get students to read, not to write and know how to use a dictionary.

     The last strategy that we will discuss in this article is reading practically by studying parallel texts.  In other words, if your students have a text in their native tongue, and also have the same text in English, then they can use them both to cross-reference each other.  This will help to reduce the amount of time it takes to constantly write down unknown words and phrases before looking up their meanings.  This also helps students to feel more confident while they read because they know that the correct translation is right at their fingertips.  

     If your students' native language is Spanish, give them some websites that have Spanish to English and English to Spanish capabilities.  This will enable them to have a constant stream of information at their disposal.  The more opportunities you provide the more likely your students are to take advantage of some of them.  You can even incorporate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  

     No matter what type of resource you provide or suggest to your students they should encourage your students to broaden their horizons and reading abilities at a rate that feels comfortable to them.

Subject Pronouns Reading Booklet CP.jpg

Subject Pronouns English Reading Booklet and Worksheet

Conclusion

     Reading has many benefits for the second language learner.  It can help them to build vocabulary, gain valuable grammar knowledge, and learn colloquial expressions.  Just remember to have your students read slowly and purposefully, look up words they don't know, keep a word journal, pause for comprehension checks, and read out loud.  Last but not least, have your students choose a topic that they find interesting and then select a text that is short and fairly easy to read. 

     Helping students to develop good reading skills and habits will not only serve them well in your class but will help them in every other area of their personal and professional lives as well.

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