Would you like to become a more fluent English speaker? Your answer is probably, “yes”. But did you know that to become more fluent, you need lots and lots of practice? And to do that, you need more contact hours with the English language. That is, you need a lot of input that you can actually understand. You know, you can be surrounded by English speakers all the time, but if you can’t understand them, then you won’t progress as quickly.
So what should you do? Well, one way to increase your contact hours with English that you can actually understand is through a practice called extensive reading. The idea is that you choose books to read that are very easy to understand, and you then read lots and lots of them. For most learners, this involves using graded readers, that is, books written using the most common English words for people who are not yet fluent at English. And if you read at a level just at or just below your actual level, then you can read easily and smoothly. Then you can focus on the actual content of what you are reading instead of the language itself.
When you can just enjoy the story, then you can forget about the language. And then guess what? You are exposing your mind to many different English patterns over and over again. And if you see a new vocabulary word, you just skip right over it and infer the meaning. You’ll see it again anyway. You don’t actually need a dictionary. You simply internalize these vocabulary words and sentence patterns. And then when you go to speak, the patterns can express themselves through your speech since you have seen them so many times. Interesting, huh?
If you want to try extensive reading, you will need to get some graded readers from the library. Some popular graded reader series are Oxford Bookworms, Cambridge English Readers, Penguin Active Reading, and so on. If your local library does not have any graded readers, then urge your librarian to purchase them. They will be a great community resource for everyone.
Let us know what you think about extensive reading.