My name is Kayo Hawkins and I am a Japanese Instructor at Aardvark Learning Academy. English is my second language and I achieved IELTS academic 8. In this blog post, I would like to share a few of my key reading strategy and tips with all of you who are trying to improve your English performance or IELTS-ESL exam results.
First of all, what is important to improve your English skill is to read academic contents effectively, and with genuine curiosity using your background knowledge from your experience in your own native language (L1), mother tongue. Background knowledge in your own language is critical, crucial to building new meanings, comprehension of academic words in English (L2).
Activate Prior Knowledge from L1 to navigate L2
Choose a book that you already know well in your language. For example, if you graduated university in your home country with business degree, read a book that discusses the familiar aspect of business you studied. If you were good at math in high school, a book that is targeted for the general audience to understand math concept in our daily routine.
Even non-academic books and magazines from the local Library related to your hobby (computer programming, fishing, cooking, knitting, painting, DIY etc). would be better than reading nothing at all in English. Remember, immersion in the English language through reading every day is what is important to developing speed, vocabulary & fluency in every other aspect of your English skills.
There are two benefits that this kind of Reading offer ESL Adults:
- First, it helps you learn new English vocabulary of the things that you already know in your native language, without comprehending some difficult new concept or the meaning of the sentences. Over time and with practice, this strategy improves your English speaking as well; as you can talk about what you already know and studied in the past with fluency. The use of technical terms and specific vocabulary in writing and reading would help you look and sound more professional in English.
- Another achievement you would have from Reading what you already know is that you would learn how things are explained in English. You could use what you read as a model to learn the structure of academic paper and the order of how contents are put together in paragraphs. How and where the writer’s opinion is stated and how the facts are described are sometimes shown differently than the essay writing in your own language.
Earn New English
No matter if you are a native speaker of one language or a learner of a new language, it is always essential to read more to be familiar with more vocabulary, grammar use, and of course earn new knowledge. Notice here, I say earn new knowledge, not learn. You have to study hard to earn new knowledge in English as a second language (ESL). So go to the local library and become a member, start searching for the book of your area of study and interest today. It will take you to another level as an English speaker, just as Dr. Seuss recommended in his book: “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you will go.”
Kayo's Tips to be a more effective Reader in English:
- Read Academic texts in English that connect to your previous study
- Activate Prior Knowledge from L1 to navigate L2
- Find books and magazines in English that are related to your hobby and start reading those as well, for fun and for Vocabulary
- Better Reading, leads to better Speaking Skills in English
- Earn your English, you have to study hard for new English to come to you
- Dr Seuss (1978), I can read with my eyes shut.