Extensive Reading for English-Language Learners | Page 4
Potential Barriers to Reading Extensively and Solutions
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Especially if you are not used to reading a lot (or reading in English), you may feel discouraged initially. You may not even get started because you think it will be too difficult or not enjoyable. If you feel or think this way, you may be robbing yourself the opportunity to use English as an additional way to learn information and read for pleasure.
Here are some potential barriers to extensive reading and suggestions on how to overcome them.
“I don't know how to get started”
If you are not used to reading independently everyday, it may be difficult to know how to get start. Here are some suggested steps:
- Plan a time. 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.”
- Choose your topic or topics well. Think of what interests you the most. (It 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…)
- Find some materials or sources. Find suitable sources (books, newspapers, magazines, websites…). Be sure the materials are authentic; that is, they are not designed to teach (reading or English) or assigned by an instructor. Also be sure they are not too easy or too difficult for you.
- 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.
Try not to get caught up on understanding all the vocabulary or grammar; just focus on enjoying and understanding the content as much as possible.
- Be consistent. Especially at first, stick to your plan. If you let it become part of your daily routine, you will likely start reading a lot without even thinking about it.
“I’m too busy.”
You may need to “force” yourself to make some time at first until your “time to enjoy yourself reading something” becomes a habit. Most very busy people spend time everyday checking their social media, playing computer games, chatting with their friends, watching TV, and so on. They do not think of the amount of time they spend doing those things because they do them out of habit. If you give it a try, you may see reading as something enjoyable you do rather than as a time-consuming activity that you “must” do.
Here are some suggestions that should help you create a reading habit:
- Do you have a plan? Are you sticking to that plan?
- Are you consistent? Reading will become part of your daily routine if you do it often each week.
- Do you have materials that interest you?
- Are you reading at the right level?
- Are your materials boring? They may be too easy.
- Are your materials frustrating to read? They may be too difficult.
- Do you have a quiet place where you can just relax, without interruptions? If you think you do not, try going to the bathroom and locking the door, for example.
“I don't really have any hobbies or interests”
You very probably do have interests; you are just not aware of them yet. If you believe you have no interests, then you have a very good reason to read extensively. You may simply need to spend some time trying to figure out what your interests are.
When you meet your friends, what do you talk about?
- Your children? You may be interested in reading about child rearing and psychology.
- About a restaurant you like? You may enjoy reading food blogs or about the food business.
- About politics? Reading newspaper articles and political blogs may interest you.
- About your dog or cat? You may be interested in pets, wildlife, and natural sciences.
- About a new app for your smartphone or about your new computer gadget? You may be interested in science and technology.
When you watch TV, what kind of programming do you like?
- Science fiction or adventure movies? You may be interested in reading about science and technology, and travel and exploration.
- Nature documentaries? You may be interested in reading about wildlife, the environment, and travel.
- Drama? Romance? You may be interested in reading history books, literature, and biographies.
Do you just sit around in your backyard looking at your plants? Do you tend to your yard?
- You may be interested in reading about leisure, gardening and botany, and camping.
This list could go on and on. The point is that, even when we think we have no interests, there are some things that grab our interest more than others. You may not realize what these things are for you yet, but reading will help you figure them out.
“It is difficult for me to read in English.”
It gets easier if you practice. The advantage of extensive reading is that you read what and when you choose to read. There is no one forcing you to understand a passage. You do not have to answer comprehension questions or learn the vocabulary in a passage.
We read to learn information, and that is what extensive reading is all about. As you read more and more what and when you choose to read, reading gets easier and more enjoyable. All you have to do is get started and keep doing it.
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