A lot of emphasis is placed on extensive listening (listening to lots of content) if you want to improve your English. How many times have you been told by your English teacher to watch authentic series and films in English and to listen to English every day?
I totally agree that improving your listening skills is vital if you want to be able to communicate effectively. However, there is also an important place for reading in your language development, especially extensive reading (also known as free reading or reading for pleasure).
Why? Here are my top 3 reasons:
1. You increase your vocabulary and consolidate your grammar
When you read a lot, you meet thousands of words, structures and collocations (common word partnerships) that you probably won’t find in a coursebook or be able to pay much attention to when you are watching a series. You will see these words and structures frequently and in different contexts when you read a lot. The context will help you to understand how the grammar and vocabulary are really used and repeated exposure means that you will remember them.
2. You improve your productive skills (writing and speaking)
This follows on logically from the previous point. If you are seeing language repeatedly and in context, you will find it much easier to reproduce it yourself in writing and speaking. Reading helps speed up the normal language learning process where passive comprehension becomes active knowledge. The more you read, the more quickly your spoken English will improve.
3. You build confidence and gain motivation
It is extremely rewarding when you discover that you have read your first novel in English and that you have actually enjoyed it too! This sense of achievement gives you more confidence in your language abilities and more motivation to continue practising and progressing.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to try your first extensive reading challenge with an authentic novel?
- Read my tips on how to choose your first novel in English.
- And here are some book recommendations from me and other English learners.
If you are already a bookworm, what was the first novel that you read in English? I would love to hear about your experience. Don’t be shy. 😊