How often do you read? Once a year? Twice? Probably you haven’t cracked open a book in a long time, or you are the kind of person that starts reading but can’t seem to finish. Reading is an important skill within a learning process, especially in the learning process of a foreign language. According to Nation (2008), is not only a great source of knowledge but also of enjoyment. So, why don’t we combine both? Reading something you find interesting, so you can learn while genuinely enjoy it because you want to do it, not because someone is forcing or asking you to do it.
Is reading that necessary to achieve?
Yes, it is! If you want to be successful (and not only in learning a second language) is the best way to achieve it. Reading has been proven to be efficient to develop your imagination, improve your memory since you have to keep some information about it and recall it later, and it also helps with communication considering that people who read frequently can better express themselves, both in writing and verbally, among many other benefits might bring to your life. But, what about in English?
As well as, there are two general or main skills when learning a second language. Receptive and productive skills. Reading is a receptive skill, which means that is not only good by itself, as a skill, but it also contributes to the development of other skills (writing, speaking, and listening). According to Krashen in his theory of the Natural Approach, it provides excellent input in learning a second language. While reading, you:
- Gain more vocabulary.
- Get used to grammar structures.
- Get exposure to useful and natural language.
- Learn about culture (depending on the genre chosen).
Read: Boosting your writing
Applying reading strategies.
Once you start reading and enjoy it at the same time, you will not stop reading! But applying reading strategies while doing so can enhance the experience and take you to the next level! I strongly recommend you start focusing on some strategies, great news is. Here there are the most common reading strategies, which one do you feel confident with? Which one needs improvement?
The goal of scanning is to locate and swoop down on particular facts.
It is very useful as a preview to a more detailed reading
Guessing meaning from context
The ability to infer the meaning of an expression using contextual clues.
Identify the author’s purpose
The three basic purposes are to inform, to persuade, and to entertain.
Discern the most important ideas in a text, how to ignore irrelevant information, and how to integrate the central ideas in a meaningful way.
Tips to start reading.
After all of this, you may be well-informed about some reading strategies but still, you want to know the road to build a strong habit since you are strongly committed to your English learning process. So, I decided to share with you some tips that I have applied myself and with my students:
- Start basic and small: Short and funny stories might be a good way to start, that way you start “warming up” your brain to this journey of extensive reading.
- Find something you like: You will probably struggle at the beginning, and try different genres or text types before you find “the right one” for you.
- Use of audiobooks: Think about it as killing two birds with one stone. You can also develop reading and listening skills.
- Find a good place to read: Try to find the perfect spot to read at home and make sure this space is free of distractions such as your TV, cellphone, tablet, laptop, bed (at least in my case), etc.
- Get a reading partner: If you need constant motivation, then this is a great tip for you! Find someone to share this habit with. You both can read the same book and discuss it. You can even set dates for each chapter or book section and debate about it.
To sum up, if you make reading a habit, you will not only gain knowledge, but also vocabulary, strategies, and culture, and it can help you develop productive skills: writing and speaking based on the information you have got through reading.
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Nation, I. S. P. (2008). Teaching esl/efl reading and writing. ProQuest Ebook Central