Ask anyone how to learn a new language and they’ll probably tell you that immersion is the best method.
Want to learn French? Move to Paris. Chinese? Head to Shanghai. The idea is that you’ll start to pick up on things faster because everyone around you is speaking the language you want to learn. You’ll need to learn the local language to survive.
How can you do that? Here are six tips ESL learners should try to improve their reading ability quickly.
Put on English subtitles
One great way to improve reading comprehension is to pair audio of your native language with written English. The translation may not always be 100 percent accurate, but often you’ll get a good sense of what English words are typically substituted for specific phrases and meanings in your native tongue— you may even pick up some interesting colloquialisms.
Get a dictionary
Whatever your first language is, buy a native-to-English dictionary and keep it in your back pocket, briefcase, or purse at all times. Don’t be shy about using it whenever you run across words that stump you.
Find a pen pal
Want to learn how to read in English? Learn how to write in English. They are similar skills because in both cases you’ll need to learn how words look and put them together to form coherent thoughts. Plus, exchanging letters with a pen pal means that you’ll be reading what they write, too.
Try English news sites
Newspapers are great, too, but these days it’s a lot easier for most people to simply head to an English news website to learn about the stories of the day.There are a number of benefits to this. Not only are news stories typically short, which means that they will be easier to get through, they are also often paired with photos. This can help you gain some context if you aren’t exactly sure what you’re reading about. Do this every day for fifteen minutes and you’ll find yourself understanding more and more very quickly.
Stick with what you know
There are many books that have been translated into dozens and dozens of languages. For example, if you’re a big fan of Harry Potter, it can be a great book series to read in English for a number of reasons. First, the fact that you have familiarity with the stories in your native language will mean you’re not reading “blind.” This can speed up your reading, motivating you to stick with it. Second, because they’re meant for younger readers, these books will use smaller words and clearer, simpler language than many “adult” books.
Play video games
Not all video games are appropriate, but many role playing games, such as Final Fantasy, involve heavy story elements which include reading and participating in dialogue, selecting written options, and reading scrolling text. Often the words are also read aloud by characters, which can help you learn how to better pronounce them, as well.
As with anything, it’s best to start with fundamentals and build from there, so make sure you’re honest with yourself about your English reading ability and start at a level where you’re comfortable.