Posted by: helpforyourenglish | January 8, 2011


There are different ways to think about reading. Sometimes we just want to find out what a text is about (the general topic or the main idea). To do that quickly we can read the heading, read the first few sentences and the last few sentences. Pictures might help us too.

Sometimes we want to find a few simple details. Sometimes we can do that quickly, too. We can do that in the same way we look at a TV guide. For example, what is on Channel 3 at 10am tomorrow? You don’t have to read all the TV guide. You don’t need to look at the TV guide for Channel 1, 2, 4 or 5 – only Channel 3, and only in the morning! So we can find the information quickly.

Sometimes we want to understand a text deeply. How much we understand depends on how difficult the text is. If the vocabulary or grammar is too difficult for us, it will be hard for us to understand the text. Here are some tips to help you, though,

Texts are usually organised to help us understand them. There is usually an introduction at the beginning of a text and different ideas in a text are usually given a different paragraph. Longer texts usually have more paragraphs. When you read, try to understand the idea or point of each paragraph.

Ideas (and paragraphs) are also usually linked using connecting words. Some common connecting words are: ‘but, however, also, and furthermore’. Those words tell you the relationship between ideas and help you understand what the writer thinks. When you read a text, look for connecting words and think about which ideas they are connecting. Are they connecting similar ideas (for example: also, and, furthermore)? Or contrasting ideas (for example: but, however)?

A good way to improve reading is to read often. If you need to read for an exam, read texts that are similar to the kind you will have to read for your exam. Also, read about topics that you will be expected to know about for your exams.

If you read quite difficult texts, don’t read long difficult texts, read short ones. Read longer texts that are not difficult for you. You will be able to read longer texts if they are a bit easy for you – below your level of English. Hopefully you will enjoy reading them (stories, for example) and you will improve your reading skills. It will probably help you in other areas of English, too.

For longer reading, I recommend graded reading books. They are books that have been written at different levels for learners of English. There are usually six levels. Level 1 is the easiest level and level 6 is the most difficult. Choose a level that you will be able to read and choose a story or topic that you think you will enjoy.

Here  is a graded reading book. The story is Huckleberry Finn. The story has been made easier to read and is graded at Level 2.


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