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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Improve Your Intermediate Level of English through Reading

Reading

In the blog we want to help everyone who may be learning English, whatever their level. That's why, after writing some guides for learning English from scratch, we present a guide for those people who have an intermediate level of English.

Do you have an intermediate English level? How do your English reading skills influence your English?

Are you able to understand the main idea when English is spoken clearly and when normal or daily issues are discussed? Do you understand texts written in English about daily issues or related to your job? Do you know how to get by in almost any situation when you travel to an English speaking country?

If you answered yes, then congratulations! you probably have an intermediate level of English.

In this guide we’d like to help you progress in your learning and your command of the English language by reading texts in English to improve your English reading skills.

How to improve your level of English by reading texts in English

One of the best ways to make progress with your English is to read. When your English reading skills are strong, you will notice a difference in your English as a whole. Also, reading is an easy, fun and very affordable way to improve many aspects of your English. You can improve your vocabulary, comprehension and grammar all by picking up a book, or visiting a website.

Reading texts in English can help you in many aspects of your learning. When you read in English you learn new words and grammar structures. If you repeatedly see that new vocabulary you’ll learn it by heart and then you’ll be able to use it when writing or speaking in English.

It’s important to get into the habit of reading texts in English: books, newspapers, magazines or websites. If you read a minimum of 20 or 30 minutes every day, you’ll notice improvements in your vocabulary, oral expression and your English reading skills.

When you read a text in English, it’s a good idea not to look words up in the dictionary every time you don't understand a word. On the contrary, it’s better to try and guess the meaning of the new words “by its context”. When you use context rather than a dictionary to learn words, you will be able to remember the words more easily. (Not to mention it is very frustrating to refer to a dictionary every 5th word, so you might find that your confidence improves as well).

In order to help you enjoy reading in English, you can pick up a writer that you like a lot (I love Roald Dahl, author of Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many others), you can also focus on a topic that interests you: football, Internet, fashion, education, news … (as you can see the topics are countless) and look for magazines, books or Web pages that discuss those topics. If you are interested in improving your health, why not study different ways to improve it in English? If you want to visit Canada, why not explore your city of choice in English. Languages are much easier to learn when you use them in an interesting and relevant way for yourself.

Another thing that you can try is reading the same book, magazine, article or Web page more than once. If you read something and then you read it again in a couple of days or weeks, you’ll notice that the second or successive time that you read it you’ll understand more and you’ll be consolidating the new vocabulary and grammar.

If you are trying to do all of this on the web but your vocabulary is a little low, try using WordChamp to help you along. Its Web Reader makes reading online articles simple and quick and it allows you to study the vocabulary that you didn’t know before with automatically created flashcards. To look up the meaning of a word, you can also use any of the free Online Dictionaries already compiled in the blog.

Available resources in the blog and on the Internet

In the blog we have a collection of resources with interesting material to read in English. The resource topics that we have already mentioned are:

News

Euronews: contains the latest international news, the news is in different languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic).

List of American online Newspapers: a total of 33 free online newspapers with interesting material.

Education

Lecturefox: free lectures in English from the top universities all over the world. Boost your English reading skills while learning something new.

On the Internet there are many Web pages and resources to read things you are interested in. You can use your favorite Internet browser to look for any of them. Diana recommends the Gutenberg project which has a large archive of free books (mostly the classics) that you can download or print.

This document has been written in collaboration with Diana Tower, an English teacher with 3 years teaching experience. She is also the author of the free Web page Helping you learn English.

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