Hit the Books: Tips for Improving Your English Reading Skills

After this week’s posts on listening, speaking, and writing, it was only fitting to write this last post of the week about ways to improve your reading. As with all skills, it can be difficult to practice reading if you’re not in an English-speaking country. But, with a little creativity and some dedication, there are definitely things you can to do to hone this skill.

1. Practice, practice, practice
No, it’s nothing new, but it’s really important. Pay attention to your surroundings throughout the day and you’re bound to find some English writing somewhere. Whether it’s a street sign, instructions on an electrical appliance, or even the back of your shampoo bottle, take a few seconds to really try and ready each of the words, even if you have no idea what they mean. The more your eyes and brain become accustomed to seeing and making sense of these words, the faster and more effective you’ll be at reading.

2. Watch TV
This is rarely the advice you get from language instructors, we know, but here’s an idea: Find a TV show or movie that you like, in any language, and turn on the English subtitles. You don’t have to make sure you catch every word; reading as many of the words as possible, while still enjoying the show, is enough to help you improve.

3. Don’t use the dictionary
Yup, here’s another unexpected piece of advice. But it does make sense. If you read a book in English and use the dictionary to look up every single word you don’t understand, you’ll be exhausted after one page, and you’re much more likely to give up. That’s no good. Instead, pick up a book and just worry the overall meaning instead of each and every word. Of course, if there’s a word that you’re really curious about or that you think will really help, look it up! Just don’t be so distracted by each word that you lose interest in the book as a whole.

Good luck and, as always, post in the comments if you have any other ideas to share!


Maya Barzilai
Maya is a Pedagogy and Research summer associate at Voxy. She recently graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in Linguistics and Arabic. She loves not only learning foreign languages, but also learning all about the different languages of the world and what they have in common. Maya is passionate about sharing her love for languages with others and watching as more and more people become empowered by the knowledge of another language.