Reading tips for ESL learners


How can you improve your reading? You guessed it … read!

Here are 5 tips to improve your reading?:

Read for enjoyment

The text you choose to read should feel comfortable.

So read something you’re interested in, rather than something you feel you should read.

Students who read for fun tend to have a deeper understanding of grammar and use a greater range of vocabulary.

They see new language in real and authentic contexts so they have great examples of relevant language that they can use themselves.

Where possible, choose a text that is a level below.

For example, if you are a level 4 student, choose a book that is level 3.

Why don’t you google your favourite celebrity or sports star and find a good article?

Or how about checking out a review of the latest movie / video game / beauty product?

Read every day

Reading for fifteen minutes every day will help you more than reading for an hour once a week.

Read when you are on the train, read when you are waiting for your bus to arrive, read whenever you can.  

Don’t read every word

Students often like to follow the text they are reading with a pen or their finger.

This forces you to read every single word.

You don’t need to do this. You will understand the text much better if you try to read fast.

If you don’t know a word, try to guess its meaning from the context rather than pausing to go to the dictionary.


Often when we are looking for a piece of information, such as an address, a phone number, or an answer to a question, we don’t need to read everything.

We just need to run our eyes over the text and look for the specific piece of information.

This is an important skill to practice.

To help you practice, identify the keywords in the question and look for that in the text, the answer will often be near the keywords.

Bonus tip: Copy

One of my creative writing lecturers once suggested that we read a text the first time for enjoyment and the second time, copy the text by hand.

This, he suggested, would help us to analyse the text in greater detail.

The same applies to learning English.

By copying the text, you will be able to notice the grammar, the sentence forms, word collocations and more, without compromising your reading speed.

So, read fast, copy slow!



Related blog posts:

Improve your Vocabulary and Speaking Skills

10 Tips To Improve Your English

Tips for Improving Listening