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Getting Smarter through Language

Extensive Reading for English-Language Learners | Page 3

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Steps to Get Started on Extensive Reading

Now you know what extensive is and how you can overcome barriers. You also know that you should read authentic materials just above your reading level.

You are ready, but how do you get started that? Here is a suggested plan.

Step 1. Plan a time for reading.

Think of the best time during your day for 10-15 minutes of extensive reading. That will be your “time to enjoy yourself reading something.”

It is important to plan a time so that you are consistent. If you do it only sometimes, you may end up forgetting about it after a few days.

As you get used to reading extensively, you can increase the amount of time.

Step 2. Choose your topic or topics well.

Think of what interests you the most.

Do not stop yourself from choosing topics because you think they are “nothing special.”

Remember that your favorite topics could be anything: cooking, the news, pop culture, sports, short stories or novels, home improvement, science and technology, the weather, health and fitness, theater, astronomy, arts and crafts, movies, education, travel, history, art, earth science, music, environmentalism, camping, photography, etcetera.

Step 3. Find some materials or sources.

Find suitable sources (books, newspapers, magazines, websites…).

Prefer authentic materials; that is, they are not designed to teach reading or English.

Be sure they are at or above your reading level.

It is okay to read something more challenging such as a newspaper article or book. Just make sure that you do not expect that you should understand everything.

If you start looking words up in the dictionary all the time, it is okay, but you are not doing extensive reading anymore. You are studying the language.

Step 4. Use your “time to enjoy yourself reading something.”

Spend the time you planned (Step 1) reading what you selected in Steps 2 and 3 for at least 10-15 minutes.

Remember you do not have to understanding all the vocabulary or grammar. Just focus on enjoying and understanding the content as much as possible.

Step 5. Be consistent.

Especially at first, stick to your plan. If you make extensive reading part of your daily routine, you will probably start reading more and more without even thinking about it.

Resources to Get You Started

Check out a list of suggested sites you can use to get started. 

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“What should I learn next?”

Do you think English is “weird?” Check out 5 Reasons English is (Supposedly) Weird and find out what a linguist says about it.

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