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The Benefits of Reading books in English – By Rachel Rowland (ABC School’s Academic Coordinator)

This year has been a difficult one for many people and trying to get on with life, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a bit of a struggle. However, the extra time that has become available, due to working and studying less, has provided people with opportunities to do things that they had never done before. Many are studying online, whilst others are taking up exercise or starting new hobbies. Personally, I believe that keeping a healthy mind as well as a healthy body is crucial during these uncertain times. I have definitely been using this time to read books that have been on my reading list for quite some time, and for English language students this is definitely the right time to practise reading in English.

How does reading books benefit us?

Reading is one of the best ways to improve your English language skills and widen your vocabulary. Reading about topics that interest you is the key to success! You should try to read books, magazines, newspaper stories and articles that will maintain your interest on a daily basis. If you read depending on your interests and read for pleasure, you will become more fluent in no time at all. Here are a few ideas on how to get started.

Graded Readers for CEFR language levels (A1 to C1)

Graded readers are books that are written for each CEFR level of English. Language is graded for vocabulary, complexity of grammar structures and the number of words. The main benefit of graded readers is that you do not have to stop every minute to look up unknown words in a dictionary. Graded readers do not have complex or unfamiliar vocabulary, contexts or grammar. If you have ever tried to read a regular book in English, you will know that there are so many unfamiliar words which can stop you from enjoying it. In a graded reader, the language chosen is level appropriate and is based around a general core vocabulary that you would have met in your English classes. Graded readers are available at all good book shops, and are also available to buy online. Take a look at the Oxford University Press and Macmillan websites as they have many retold versions of popular classics to choose from. Most come with audio CDs too!

Newspaper Articles

Although tabloid newspapers, such as The Sun and The Daily Mirror are not academic, they do contain a lot of everyday language, such as phrasal verbs, which can be very useful for students. Tabloid language can enhance your communication with other English speakers. Think about it like this, what kind of conversations are you involved in on a regular basis – normal, everyday chats or highly intellectual discussions? Reading tabloid newspapers will keep you up to date on current affairs and will provide you with interesting topics to speak with your friends about. You could use any newly acquired words and phrases, that you come across, in conversations with your English-speaking friends so that these are added to your active English vocabulary. After all, what’s the point in learning new expressions if you’re not prepared to use them in speech. If you are serious about improving your English, you have to speak. Imagine how fulfilling it will be to participate in daily conversations regarding current affairs, such as politics, health and education! Students who are keen to visit London in the near future would definitely benefit from reading about current affairs in the U.K, as this would enhance their understanding and familiarity of our culture and customs. In addition, becoming familiar with our way of life would greatly benefit those who wish to stay with a host family whilst studying here. At ABC School of English, we have a wonderful selection of warm, friendly host families who are waiting to welcome you and to show you around our incredible city. London has a lot to offer, including many cultural events, delicious food from around the world, art galleries, museums and theatre shows. A foreign language is far easier to learn and understand if you spend time immersed in the culture of the country. Living with a host family will provide full immersion in English, meaning that you will learn much faster. In addition, students find that they benefit greatly from taking a General English course alongside classes using the Callan Method. At ABC School, you will be speaking English from the very first lesson. You will be made to feel very welcome at our warm and friendly school, and soon you will become a fluent, confident speaker in your new language, able to express yourself freely on many subjects.

The Internet

The resources available online are endless. There are so many benefits to reading content online, including being able to learn at your own pace and having your learning style catered for. The variety of reading material available for students these days is incredible. All you have to do is find a little time each day to read something that interests you and you will see rapid improvements within your English. Here are a few great websites to get you started: https://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/skills/readinghttps://www.ngllife.com/upper-intadvanced As you can see, there are many ways to practise your English language skills and reading is one of the most important skills for overall improvement. Ultimately, the best way to improve your English language skills quickly, is to sign up for one of our combined courses and to stay with one of our wonderful English families in the heart of London. We would love to see you at our school in the near future. In the meantime, stay safe!