Learning English can be a difficult task. While many people learn English in the classroom, the vast majority of English learning takes place outside of it. To better understand a language, it is important to know how it is used in everyday life. One of the best things you can do to learn English is read.
When selecting reading material to learn English, first ask yourself what you enjoy reading in your native language. Find out what is available in your favorite genres in English. If the subject matter is interesting to you, you will be more likely to keep going.
Read a variety of different media in English, from magazines to novels to Internet forums. Remember English usage will vary depending on the intent and the audience. The New York Times is going to take a more formal approach to the English language than somebody's personal blog.
Consider your English level when selecting reading material. Challenge yourself, but do not frustrate yourself needlessly by selecting a complex, intricate text when you have only been studying English for a couple of years. If you are new to the English language, read newspaper articles and novels written in a simplified English. A side-by-side reader, with the English text on one page and its translation on the other, can be useful.
It is a good idea to think of when the text was written. English grammar and word usage has changed over time. It can be difficult to tell what is still in use and what isn't, particularly when it comes to slang. To begin, you may want to select something written relatively recently.
Set aside some time every day to do your English reading. Even 15 minutes a day is better than 3 hours once a week. In this way, you can constantly build on your knowledge and recall what you have previously learned.
Do not get out your translation dictionary and look up every other word you don't know as you read. It will only slow things down and make the reading process much less fun. Keep it close by, but leave it for a moment.
Instead, rely on what you already know of English. It is perfectly fine if you do not know each word. Your first goal is to understand what the piece is saying. When you come across a difficult word or phrase, use context clues--the words, phrases and situations surrounding it--to try and guess at its meaning. Write down or underline any words or phrases you like or cannot figure out.
As you read for understanding, however, take the time to observe English in action. This means the grammatical structure and how certain words are used in context. Not only will this improve your reading comprehension, it will help you to sound more authentic in your own English writing, later.
When you have finished reading, go to your list of new words. Now you can get your dictionary and look them up. Turn them into flash cards, keep them in mind and use them.
Sophie Levant is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Having attended Michigan State University, her interests include history classical music, travel, and the German language. Her work has been published at eHow and Travels.