Increasing their reading comprehension level is the goal of many ESL students; the ability to understand more complicated texts and even being able to understand English newspapers is really satisfactory. The good news is that the path to reach a good level of comprehension would not be so hard if you put into practice the following tips.
1. Learn and practise all the vocabulary that you can. The secret to increase your reading comprehension is to increase your vocabulary base. Very often, when you don’t understand the meaning of a sentence, it’s because you don’t know the meaning of one or more words within it. In the same way, the more you read, the more new vocabulary you’ll learn hence progressing on your reading level. One of the big advantages of learning vocabulary this way is that you are learning vocabulary within context.
To increase your vocabulary base, we recommend you to visit the Vocabulary section where you’ll find many free resources. If you’d like to learn new vocabulary by watching videos, don’t miss out the VocaTube series.
2. Always have a good dictionary to hand. A bilingual dictionary is basic in order to search for the meaning of the words that you don’t know and therefore give a proper meaning to what you’re reading. When you look for a word, make sure to re-read the sentence in English again until it makes sense.
If you have an upper-intermediate or advanced level of English, you should be using a monolingual English dictionary in order to get the definition of the word in English. For those who like reading online content, there are many dictionaries available on the Web that will solve all your queries. You can find a selection of them on the Dictionaries section.
3. Be constant and get to know your limitations. Don’t start reading detective stories if you have a basic level of English. Instead, don’t be ashamed to choose titles for children where the amount of used vocabulary is reduced and easier to understand. From there and once you feel comfortable, you can move on to teenage titles to finally reach novels.
It’s also very important to be constant and to set realistic targets like reading 3 hours during the week or a book every week. If you’re constant, you’ll notice that your vocabulary increases progressively along with your reading comprehension.
If you travel to Ireland, the UK, the US or any other English speaking country, don’t forget to pay a visit to a bookshop. Many of them have second-hand books and you’ll be able to get bargains like 4 books for 1 euro, a pound or a dollar. Get some books whose difficulty matches your level of English and start reading them. If you don’t mind, you can underline and write the meaning of the words that you search for in the dictionary.
If you’re not travelling to an English speaking country, have a look at websites like Amazon or eBay for the relevant country (Amazon UK, eBay UK, Play.com, Amazon US, eBay US). You’ll probably find a book that you like at a reasonable price (remember to add the postage and packing costs of your country of residence).
Finally, when you feel comfortable with your reading comprehension level, try giving it a test by reading some of these online newspapers :)
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