Reading is a brilliant way to expand our knowledge. It also develops our imagination and increases our vocabulary. By reading books, we can take a break from the reality around us for a while. And it’s surely a much better idea than spending time browsing social media. Reading is also a great way to relax after a hard day or to start the day productively.

But that’s not all! Reading is also an ideal way to improve our language skills

reading to improve your language skills

Reading as a way to improve your language skills

Why is it important to include reading in your language learning routine?

Reading in a foreign language will make you more familiar with all the important vocabulary and grammatical structures. Seeing them over and over again will make it easier for you to use them in a real-life conversation. 

One of the most important advantages is that you will learn all the new vocabulary and expressions in a context. This will improve your understanding and show you how they should be used in a sentence.

Reading can also help you express yourself in a more comfortable way. Having accumulated a lot of words and expressions, you will be able to build much more advanced sentences. It will also make you sound more natural.

By reading a lot in a foreign language, you will actually start to think more in this language. And that helps a lot whenever you are having a conversation or writing something in that language. 

What should you read?

Well, that depends on your level and personal preferences, to be honest.

When it comes to your preferences, I think you should choose whatever you find interesting. You learn best when you are actually enjoying the process.

However, you should definitely take your level into account when you choose the book to read.

It’s very important. Choosing to difficult book, way above your current level, can make you feel frustrated. You will just not understand enough to be able to even follow the story. And translating every word is not the way!

However, choosing too easy content is also not beneficial to you. You will get bored fast, and you won’t learn too much.

That why choosing the book with an appropriate level of difficulty is the key to developing your skills. It should ideally be a little above your level, so that it can challenge you, without making you want to quit.

So, let’s be more specific.

Here’s what I’d recommend you to read, regarding your current level.

reading to improve your language skills

Beginner

Children’s books

A good idea to start your adventure with reading in a foreign language is to read children’s books. They are generally easy to follow and short. They are written in a simple language, so you should be able to understand them more easily. 

Parallel texts

You can also try reading texts that are written in two languages. This way you can compare both versions and understand better the structure of your TL. 

I would suggest that you read the foreign language version first, without checking the translation right away. Try to understand as much as possible. 

Then read it one more time. This time underline the words and grammar structures that you are not familiar with.

Now it’s the time to check how much you actually understood. Read the translation and find the meaning of the words you didn’t know.

And then… read it again! 

You will be surprised how much you understand comparing to the first time you read it. It will become much more clear.

Intermediate

Once you’ve reached the intermediate level, you can choose from wider options.

For example, you can start to read shorter and easy-to-read novels. Try to find some “graded readers” that indicate the level of difficulty.

If it’s something you like to do, you can also include newspapers or magazines. 

Read whatever you are interested in. Just keep in mind to not choose too advanced topics.

It’s also a good idea to choose the books that you’re already familiar with (the ones that you had already read in your native language before). This will make it much easier for you to understand the story. 

Advanced

Congratulations! You achieved the advanced level in your target language! That must feel great, doesn’t it?

Being fluent in a foreign language, you can basically read whatever you like. Of course, you should still start from easier literature before you begin to read more complex books.

You may wonder if it’s still beneficial to you since you understand most of what you read.

The answer is – of course, it’s beneficial! Language learning is a life-long process. It’s not possible to learn everything from any language, to be honest.

Even reading in your native language, you are able to learn new things and broaden your vocabulary. So keep reading!

How to read effectively?

First of all – do not try to understand everything right away. Translating every word you don’t know will not make your reading effective.

I know, it’s pretty frustrating to not be able to understand everything. I’m pretty impatient, and I want to understand everything right away, too.

But we need to take it easy, okay? 

Try to deduct the meaning of the words that you don’t know. Only translate the words that are really essential to understanding the story you are reading. 

The more you read, the more often you will see the same new word, being used in different contexts. This will help you get a better idea of how it’s used.

Conclusion

Reading is an amazing way to improve both your language skills and your general knowledge.

Try to follow the advice above to make your reading process more effective and enjoyable.

Be patient with yourself and do not give up. 

In the beginning, reading in a foreign language can be difficult and overwhelming.

But it gets easier with time. The more you practice, the better you become.

Are you reading in your target language? What do you like to read the most?

reading to improve your language skills

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