The four cornerstones of language learning, part 2: Reading

February 2, 2018

Today we will continue with our blog series “The four cornerstones of language learning”. The previous part of the series focused on improving listening comprehension, and today we will dig into reading.

Reading helps you to comprehend many aspects of language. You will learn different sentence structures and typical expressions from different texts. This happens unconsciously, and will also help you with listening and writing skills as the structures of the language become second nature.

If you want to improve your reading skills, my first and most important advice is this:

Don’t start with a thick and complex novel. Your motivation will run out long before you even get the hang of the storyline.

Instead, start with short, simple texts that are written in plain language and accompanied with abundant illustrations. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Websites of magazines and tabloids

These websites usually have lots of pictures and very little text. You can click on interesting headlines, read the captions and browse through the articles you find intriguing.

There is no need to translate every unfamiliar word you encounter, but it makes sense to check the ones that are repeated often.

  1. Blogs

Google the most popular blogs in the language you are studying. Especially lifestyle and fashion blogs are usually very easy to read. Choose a blogger who writes about topics that you are interested in.

If it feels difficult to find good bloggers, check out the local websites of big international magazines. They usually have their own blog departments where they host high-quality blogs that relate to the topics discussed in the magazine.

  1. Comics and children’s books

Visit the international department of your local library. If you can find material in the language you are learning, start with comics and children’s books. These are very helpful, especially when you are only starting to improve your reading skills, because they have many pictures in them to give clues of what’s going on.

Also bear in mind that not all comics are meant for children. Tintin, for example, has many exciting adventures in exotic places, and the Moomin comics were originally meant for adults only.

If there are no books in your chosen language, you can order used books online for a very affordable price. For instance, Amazon lets you filter the product search by language, genre, price and many other features.

Happy reading!

P.S. In the next part of the blog series, we will focus on improving your writing skills. For instance, you’ll get tips for writing an appropriate work email in a foreign language. Stay tuned!

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