One of the best ways to practice your English outside of the classroom is to read for pleasure. Reading novels, poems and essays can expose you to new vocabulary, and also gives you a chance to see words in a new context. It can also be a relaxing way to ‘think’ in English! But choosing novels that are both interesting and easy-to-read can be difficult!
Our Director of Courses, Alyssa, has some tips for students choosing novels:
- -It can be a good idea to pick a young adult novel to read, because the writing tends to be simpler in these novels – while they often still have exciting plots!
- -Always pick a subject or piece of writing that interests you. Remember, this should be fun! Don’t try to read something that won’t hold you attention, or that you would never normally read.
- -It can be interesting to read a novel that there is also a movie version of, so that you can compare the book and the film. Often times what you imagine in your mind is different from what the producers execute.
- -You might want to read the English translation of one of your favorite books or poems. That way you already have an idea of the subject matter and can make connections between the English version and the version you are familiar with.
- -If you and a few friends are interested in the same book, having a book group can be helpful (and a great way to hang out)! You can agree to meet and talk about certain chapters weekly, or talk about the book after you’ve all finished it. You can explore the subject matter of the story, talk about what you liked, what you disliked, and get more practice – in English!
- -Finally, don’t get caught up in trying to understand every single word. If you can get the ‘sense’ of what is happening at the end of a chapter, you are understanding well enough. As you may have learned in class, you can often determine words meanings by the context of the sentence or surrounding sentences. If you have an idea of what is happening, the surrounding sentences can help you figure out the word you are stuck on. If there’s a word that really interests or confuses you, make a note of it, and look it up later.
Looking for suggestions? ELC staff recommend reading The Hunger Games, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men or the Harry Potter series.
You can also find curated lists like this on websites such as GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/75400.Great_Books_for_Cambridge_ESL_Students
To hear American poetry read aloud, you can also check out this website: http://www.favoritepoem.org/
If you have a book recommendation you’d like to share with us, please let us know. Happy reading!!!