In my last post with advice on improving your language skills I’m going to focus on reading – but a slightly different aspect of it than before. I’ve chosen the topic because I know that if a language learner is highly motivated, they usually come to a point in their language learning process when they want to do something more to improve their skills than just attending lessons and doing homework – they want to include the language more and more in their free time activities and so many of them ask their teachers about books they can recommend. So if you’ve ever wondered how to go about reading books in a foreign language, I hope I can give you some guidance.
The most important thing is to read something that’s interesting for you, otherwise you will get bored easily and won’t have the motivation to carry on. So if you have an author you particularly like and have always read in translation, try reading one of his or her books in the original language version. Or, maybe you could start with a book you’ve already read or watched as a film in your own language – for example the Harry Potter series. Knowing the plot will give you much more confidence and will make it easier to follow, even if you don’t understand some parts of the text.
If you feel that your level of English is not enough to go for a book you would like to read, you can try with the Graded Readers Series - versions of well-known books which are adapted to different levels of English proficiency. With all levels from Elementary and above, there is something for almost everyone. You can find traditional readers by Oxford Publishing or, if you prefer reading e-books, you can find some for free here.
When you’ve already made a choice and are ready to start reading, remember that there's no need to look up every word you don’t understand in a dictionary – in fact you shouldn’t do it at all unless you really need the word to be able to follow the plot. Reading should be a pleasure, so you don't want to stop every few words to check a dictionary - most of the time the rest of the sentence or paragraph will provide the context anyway.
And lastly, if you ever go to an English-speaking country, look for some local markets where you can buy second hand books very cheaply – there is always a hidden gem to be found!
Martyna Jenkner | BLC Intern 2018
If you are interested in studying English in England, don’t forget BLC offers full-time courses throughout the year, as well as regular evening classes for local residents in Bristol. Contact us now to find out more.