Reading fictional books (also called novels) is one of the best and cheapest ways to improve your English.
The big problem is knowing which books to read. Let's look at why reading in English will improve your level.
WHY READING NOVELS HELPS YOUR ENGLISH
Although reading in English will help you to learn new vocabulary and expressions, it will also help you to remember vocabulary and grammatical structures that you have already learnt. Like with learning to play the guitar, the best way to improve your English is through practice and repetition.
Reading books in English also helps you to practise using the context of a sentence to guess the meaning of words and expressions that you don't know. Using context to guess meaning is fundamental for both mastering English and remembering new vocabulary.
CHOOSING A BOOK
As I said before, the big problem is choosing the right book for you. It needs to be just hard enough that you learn new vocabulary, but not too hard. If you choose a book which is too hard or complex for your English level, you'll become confused, frustrated and stop reading the book.
HOW TO KNOW IF A BOOK IS RIGHT FOR YOU
The only way to know if a novel in English is right for you, is to read the first few pages of the book. If you don't know the meaning of more than five words/phrases on each page, then you know that the book is too difficult for you.
If you know every word or expression you have read on the first few pages of the book, then the book will be too easy for you (you are not going to be learning any new vocabulary).
A novel will be right for you, if on the first few pages you understand the situation (where they are, why they are there, what they are doing etc...), but don't know the meaning of between two to five words or expressions per page.
READ THE FIRST FEW PAGES BEFORE YOU BUY
To save you money, you should always read the first few pages of any book/novel you want to read in English before you buy it.
Although you can go to a book shop/store to do this, the easiest way you can do this is to look at a book you are thinking of reading/buying online. For most books, the website gives a free preview/sample of the first few pages.
If there is a preview/sample of the book, you'll see 'Look inside' written above the photo of the book.
NOVELS FOR PEOPLE LEARNING ENGLISH
In addition to reading books written for native speakers of English, you can also read books that have been written or adapted for people learning English too. These books are called 'readers' and you can choose a book specially for your level of English (e.g. beginner, intermediate etc...).
READ ARTICLES IN ENGLISH AS WELL
In addition to reading novels, you should also read online articles and news stories. The advantage of doing this is that they are shorter than novels and you can learn vocabulary on a variety of different topics.
This is particularly useful for people who are studying to do an exam in English (e.g. Cambridge FCE, CAE, IELTS etc...), where students need to improve their English vocabulary and knowledge of lots of different topics/subjects to do well in the exam.
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