This article is inspired by Sunith Kollara’s excellent article written HERE.
I’ve seen numerous students complain “I don’t know how to finish reading passages in time?” or “When I begin writing, I’m short of words to express my ideas.”
These are not the problems. These are mere symptoms of a deep-rooted problem of lack of vocabulary to express oneself. And the solution if “read books”.
To improve reading, writing, speaking, and listening of non-native English students, I have the following suggestions:
A. Read books, magazines, and newspapers: To overcome the scarcity of words in your expression and any tendency to use Ummm… and AAAA….. in your speaking, you need a good foundation of books read over months, if not years.
B. What should I read? Well, read anything under the sun. Read English language newspapers and magazines for at least one hour every day. Read books on any topic that interests you for another hour. The topics can be science or arts or humanities. It makes no difference as long as it is not a textbook and not in a language other than English.
C. How should I read? Read loudly! That’s it. By loudly I mean loud enough so that you can listen to your own voice. You need to do this to improve your pronunciation and speaking style.
D. Why shouldn’t I learn new words from a vocabulary book? Here’s what you need to understand about human, that means your, brain. Our brain makes connections to remember things. It needs CONTEXT to keep something in your long-term memory. That’s why humans love stories. They create context. A vocabulary book will never create context. You’ll cram words one day only to forget the next day. On the other hand, a general book reading will send words in your long-term memory. Simple.
E. I’ve started reading. What next? Well, start communicating what you’ve learned. Don’t feel ashamed of your novice level in the English language. Talk to people in English and you’ll make significant improvements.
F. Whom should I talk to and about what topic? Talk to anyone. Your friends, family members, your dog. Anyone. Choose any topic. Choose weather, schools, hospitals, government, roads, transportation, house, siblings, parents, etc.
G. Start listening too. Listen to the English news, preferably the B.B.C. Do not listen to your native language news.
These activities will not only improve your reading, listening and speaking but also writing and grammar.
I’m no preacher. I’m a practitioner. Want to know the book I’m reading these days? It’s “A Man Called Ove.” Great book, if you ask for my advice.
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