You are using the Effortless English system every day. You focus most of your time on listening to compelling stories. You listen to point-of-view stories to learn grammar naturally. You learn deeply. As a result, your English speaking is improving. Each month you speak more easily and effortlessly. Your confidence is growing. You are mastering the core, high-frequency English used most commonly by native speakers.
As you continue improving, eventually you will want to advance to a higher level of English. Perhaps you want to study abroad in America or Canada. Perhaps you want to work for an international company that requires English. Perhaps you need to pass an exam such as the TOEFL, TOEIC, or IELTS.
When you reach this point, what is the best way to improve your English reading? How can you learn to read faster? How can you use reading to learn more words faster? How can you improve your reading comprehension? What's the best way to combine reading and listening?
Most schools teach reading using an academic skill-building approach. Typically, students read difficult articles and then answer questions about them to test their comprehension. Students are taught how to identify the main idea of the article, how to answer multiple-choice questions about the article, and how to guess the meaning of unknown words. They are then graded on their performance.
During my teaching career, I have found that most students are bored by this approach. Worse, a tremendous amount of research shows that this method is inferior to one that is much more enjoyable and natural. Students who use this natural method write better, have better vocabularies, have better grammar comprehension, and perform better on the TOEFL test than those who use the traditional methods found in schools and textbooks.
Just what is this powerful natural method? The research is clear that simply reading for pleasure is the most effective reading method of all. In other words, all you need to do is read interesting and fairly easy books in English. No exercises are necessary. No tests are necessary. No complex reading strategies are necessary. No lessons are necessary. No required books are necessary.
There is no big secret to reading in English. In fact, the answer couldn't be simpler. You need to read books (in English) that are interesting and fairly easy to you. You need to read them every day and you need to read a lot of them.
It turns out that volume is the key to improvements with reading. In other words, the key to better English reading is to read more pages every day, and more books every month. Choosing extremely difficult books is counter-productive. Some learners think they'll improve faster by reading difficult material but the opposite is true. The best reading materials are ones you can read without the use of a dictionary.
Compelling content is also vital. You must choose books that are extremely interesting to you. Of course, this will be different for everyone. If you love science, then you should read easy books about science and science fiction. If you love romance, then you should read easy romance books. If you love comic books, then read your favorite comic books in English!
In the beginning, you may need to read books that are designed for young adults. Read as many as you can every week. The more you read compelling material, the faster your reading will become, and the faster it will improve. Soon you'll be reading novels and non-fiction books that are designed for adults.
The very best approach to pleasure reading is to combine it with listening. When you listen and read at the same time, you "kill two birds with one stone." In other words, you accomplish two goals at the same time: you improve your listening (and thus your speaking) and you improve your reading ability.
Whenever possible, get the audiobook version of the book you are reading. Be sure to get the "unabridged" audiobook. The unabridged version will have every word of the book — in audio form. You'll then be able to listen to each chapter as you read along at the same time. By doing this, you'll automatically learn the correct pronunciation of new words you encounter. You'll also learn to read a bit faster as you must follow along with a native speaker who is reading the book aloud for you.
Combined listening and reading will build both your written and your spoken vocabulary. You will continue learning new English phrases from real natural materials at a more advanced level. As your English ability becomes more advanced, novels, nonfiction books, and audiobooks will become increasingly important. At the advanced level, you'll spend most of your time reading and listening to books that are compelling to you.
It's as simple as that! Read what you love and read a lot. Listen to the audiobook version whenever possible. This is the fastest and most enjoyable way to improve your English reading. As we'll see in the next chapter, it's also an excellent way to improve your writing.
Go online and buy an English language novel for young adults. I recommend starting with a series of books such as "The Hardy Boys" or "Nancy Drew."
Read one chapter in the book each day. On a calendar, track the number of pages you read.
After one week, increase the average daily page count. Read a little more. Your goal every week is to read more pages than you read in the previous week.
When you finish the first book, read another in the series. Continue reading books in the series until you have completed all of them. You will then be ready for somewhat more difficult material.
Of course, get the audio versions of your books whenever possible.
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