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 wonโ€™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. ย 

So, what do you think? Are you ready to try your first extensive reading challenge with an authentic novel?

If you are already a bookworm, what was the first novel that you read in English? I would love to hear about your experience. Donโ€™t be shy. ๐Ÿ˜Š


If you are strong intermediate-level student (B1+/B2-)or above, now’s the perfect time to try reading your first authentic novel. Don’t know where to start?

If you follow these tips, you can’t go wrong:

โ˜… First, look for the genre (type) of novel that you enjoy reading in your own language. If you wouldn’t read a novel in your language, why read it in English?

โ˜… Look for a novel with short chapters. Reading a complete chapter at a time will give you satisfaction and keep you motivated to read more.

โ˜… Before buying, read a couple of pages and check the writing style and language. Lots of description makes comprehension more difficult, dialogue generally makes it easier.

โ˜… When you are reading, do NOT underline every word that you don’t understand. You will get demotivated very quickly.

โ˜… Underline and check the meaning of new words and structures that you see again and again and want to remember.

โ˜… Focus on specific areas of the language e.g. underlining phrasal verbs, collocations with MAKE.

โ˜… Use a good English dictionary. I recommend the Cambridge Learner dictionary because it gives you useful definitions and examples.

โ˜… If you are having problems choosing a novel or are not sure if one is suitable, ask me. I will be happy to help you!

Happy reading!