In this case, it’s the former. I want to stress the importance of reading to improve your English, so I repeat the word. (It was pointed out to me that in class I often don’t just say ‘Good!’ to my students, but ‘Good, good, good!’ which therefore makes the meaning stronger.)
Whenever I read about how language learners can improve, the answer that always comes up is ‘read’. Reading and listening are both input skills, and obviously before we can output (speak and write), we must have some input. With reading, you have time to absorb the material, to repeat it, and process the meaning at word, phrase, sentence, paragraph and whole text levels. Ideally, with listening too, having the opportunity to listen more than once, and to be able to hear the sounds of words linked together and naturally pronounced, such as ‘Whadaya wanna do?’ (What do you want to do?), is extremely beneficial to the learner.
As I have blogged before, there is a wealth of material available for English language learners. Graded readers are plentiful in good book shops and online, and they can help you to read at an appropriate level. If the material is too hard, it becomes less fun. If it is too easy, you may not be progressing with your vocabulary as much as you could. On the other hand, you should read very easy material in order to improve your reading speed. Refer to my previous blog for more information about finding the right reading level for you.
That isn’t to say that you should only read. In fact, that is probably a great weakness of the Japanese education system, when students are made to read exceptionally difficult passages in order to pass their entrance exams. Many students may have a large vocabulary, but when it comes to speaking, they fall short as they haven’t been given the practice to use it. So, you must use what you read. How?
- Say it aloud. Use NELS Repeat ‘n’ Speak method. Read a phrase aloud, then cover it, and try to repeat exactly what you’ve just read. This forces your brain to work harder, which will make the information stronger in your memory.
- Write about what you’ve read. That way you are using the vocabulary that you’ve just read again. This will help you remember it better.
- Speak about it. Tell your friends what you’ve been reading. Did you notice that that is exactly what I did at the start of this blog! (Whenever I read…)
- Maybe you can even listen to what you are reading. Many English Language Textbooks will have audio material for readings, and transcripts for listenings. They are there for a reason: to be used!
So, read, read, read, but then use, use, use!Clearly you have just read this, so well done! Now do something with it!
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