If you have started learning English, we bet you can’t wait to watch an American film in the original version without subtitles, or to read a book that you are eagerly waiting for, but the Slovak translation hasn’t hit the shelves of bookstores yet.
However, like most good things a good grasp of English doesn’t come overnight, and we need to be patient before we can fully reap the benefits of speaking another language. But we have good news for you: you don’t need to wait to start reading in English. You can (and should) start right away! In fact, reading books in the foreign language we are learning is important not only for vocabulary, but also for reinforcing grammatical structures. What’s more, if you enjoy the story you will read more and thus learn more.
Now it’s just a matter of picking the right book.
When we talk about making the right choice, we don’t mean a particular genre or the literary value of the book. If you are just starting out with English it is important to pick the right level of difficulty. That will enable you to enjoy reading the text and at the same time sufficiently enhance your vocabulary while reading.
How to find the right books
A number of major publishers of English literature print the so-called “easy reader” editions of both classic and popular modern literary works, meaning simplified versions with sentence structure and vocabulary adapted to beginner English speakers. Macmillan Readers, Black Cat Cideb and Penguin Readers are among the most well-known. If you are just starting with English; you should definitely search for these editions. They are even better than many fairy tales, which we tend to reach for because we feel they would be written in a childlike, simpler language. But the truth is that even Little Red Riding Hood contains archaisms and fairy tale vocabulary that is hard to understand, and hardly ever used in real life.
Advantages of “easy readers”
- Thanks to their simple vocabulary, you don’t need to flip through the dictionary a lot
- New vocabulary is repeated more often, giving you an opportunity to memorise them easier
- Many even include pictures to help better understand the text.
And what is the biggest advantage?
Reading isn’t difficult, it is fun and motivates us to keep going naturally. If we see immediate results from reading, we are more willing to dive even into the homework given by our teacher. J
A few principles in summary
Stories are simply more entertaining than textbooks, there is no pretending otherwise. But not every story is going to be your cup of tea. If you suddenly get the feeling that you’re having a hard time reading, try going through these principles to uncover the likely culprit.
- Regularity is important – you don’t have to read for hours at a time, just find 15 minutes every day – the story will be on your mind, and it will make you want to delve deeper
- It’s easier to read a romantic novel than Dostoevsky – choose books that are engaging, not complicated
- You don’t have to finish every book you start – read what you enjoy reading
- Don’t read if you’re tired – it’s harder to concentrate and you won’t make as much progress
Don’t burn after reading
If you reach the end of the book, congratulations! Just remember that it doesn’t stop at the end and reading can do even more for your English.
- Write down 10 new words you have learned
- Write a short summary of the book, no more than 250 words
- Practice retelling the plot of the book in front of a mirror
Repetition is the mother of learning, so don’t be afraid to read the book more than once. It’s even better if you choose one that also exists in audio form – read it first, then listen with the text, and then just listen. Repeat this process until you understand every word as you listen!
We wish you many pleasant moments while reading. 🙂