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Forget your dictionary and translator, improve your reading skills to become an independent English learner!

Many students see reading skills simply as a way to learn new vocabulary or to familiarise themselves with the grammar structures. This is a largely mistaken belief. Developing your reading skills is an essential part of being an effective and independent English language learner, both inside the classroom and in everyday use out in the real world.

When you improve your reading skills rather than only focus on certain words, your language learning possibilities are endless. A learner with strong reading skills is capable of understanding texts, signs and any kind of written material without a teacher by their side – a useful skill to possess once your language course ends. When you’re out and about and there’s no teacher (or Wi-Fi connection) around to help, your well-rounded reading skills will come to the rescue. You may be wondering, how can I develop my reading skills? Here are some tips to follow to expand your reading skills and become an independent learner.

Reading Skills Tip #1: Go Easy on yourself

Read in English the same you read in your native language. Don’t stress and fret if you can’t understand everything. You might be learning a new language, but the same reading skills and techniques apply.

Do you read every word in your native language when you’re reading a summary, a schedule or a poster? No – and you shouldn’t expect to in English either.

Reading Skills Tip #2: Ditch the Dictionary and Translator

While your dictionary and translator might be your safety net, you’re not actually learning anything apart from a particular word, which you’d probably forget after a few minutes, or less. The first time you read a text, don’t stress about unknown words. Read without stopping, just try to understand the main ideas of the story. You’d be surprised by how much you can actually understand.

Reading Skills Tip #3: Use Context to solve Word Meanings

Once you realise you can survive without your dictionary or translator, the real reading skills learning can begin.

I went to the schlumpy to buy a hitty for dinner.

Even though you might not know what a ‘schlumpy’ or a ‘hitty’ are, the rest of the sentence can give you clues. A ‘schlumpy’ must be a shop because you bought something there. ‘Hitty’ must be food because you’re going to eat it for dinner.

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