How An ESL Learner Can Best Improve Their Reading Ability

english as a second language literacy

There are a number of ways that an ESL learner can improve their overall reading ability. It is important that any ESL learner with such an opportunity elect to do so whenever possible because an enhancement in reading directly correlated with an enhancement in overall language skills. This is because, as one reads, they will begin to pick up on different vocabulary skills and linguistic nuances that would not have otherwise been present to them in the absence of such an activity.

We Review the Best ESL Textbooks for Learning to Read, Write, and Speak English

Unfortunately, for those who are not big fans of reading, the only way to truly improve in this category is to continuously read. This is especially true for those that do not have a strong basis in reading or writing yet. As an ESL learner, it will soon become apparent that one can speak a language as fluently as possible, but if they do not possess the ability to both read and write in the language with an equal amount of proficiency, this skill set will essentially become useless.

Below, are a few tips for ESL learners that they can use to improve their English to a level that will assist them in gaining complete reading fluency in the language.

Watch English shows with subtitles.

This perhaps may be the best advice for any ESL individual hat is looking to gain a better grasp of the English language. By watching shows in the English language with subtitles on, the brain begins to draw a stronger correlation between the words that are said and how they are pronounced by the individuals on the show as they are reading along. There perhaps is nothing better to supplement the overall development of reading skills in any foreign language with English being no exception.

Start off reading simple literature.

While it may be tempting to dive headfirst into some of the more complex American novels such as Huckleberry Finn, 1984, and other classics, it is advised that any ESL learner that is looking to improve their reading skills start off with material that is simpler in nature. This is to ensure that the fundamental aspects of reading are mastered first before moving on to some more complex material where there are significantly more vocabulary words and other terms that one must gain a firm grasp of.

Read this article about learning english using children’s books and stories

Try to read more actively in day-to-day life.

Whether it be street signs, news headlines or scrolls, shop bulletins, etc., it is important to get a better feel for the types of things that must be read in ‘everyday’ life. These stimuli will help ESL learners to better integrate the type of reading that they must perform on a regular basis. It is also crucial to become familiar with some of the more common terms and concepts that are more commonly used in various areas of life in order to ensure that,  when these terms are encountered in the future, they will already have a working base of knowledge by which to decipher the meaning.


Ask how to pronounce things if the pronunciation is unknown.

There is no use in attempting to become a better reader if one does not take the necessary steps to ensure that they are genuinely improving in reading. Thus, if an ESL learner comes across any word(s) that they are unfamiliar with, they should use all resources at their disposal to figure out the correct pronunciation of the term that they are coming into contact with. This will ensure that they are truly gaining the ability to read better, thus improving their overall reading ability.

Ask/Lookup the definition of any words that are unknown.

Another core facet of true reading ability is understanding what is being read. It does no one any use to be able to read a plethora of material without having any working knowledge of what the words actually mean. Therefore, if there are any words that an ESL learner encounters that they are unsure of the definition for,  they should consult a dictionary or another credible source or individual in order to ascertain the definition so that they can remember it for future use.

reading the dictionary

Reading out loud.

It helps to read out loud so one can physically hear what it sounds like to hear some of the words uttered on a consistent basis. It also helps to reinforce the brain’s understanding and perception of the words on a page when they are verbally spoken at the same time they are being read. In addition, anyone that is listening will be able to point out any errors or flaws in reading that would not have been otherwise identified if the person was reading exclusively in their head.

In conclusion, each and every single tip that is contained within this article is absolutely essential for any and all ESL learners to follow if they wish to gain true fluency when it comes to reading different things. By implementing these different tips on a consistent basis, ESL learners can guarantee that they will become more fluent in reading in a short enough of time as long as they stick to a dedicated regimen of learning. 

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