Before you can start speaking and writing in English, you have to learn how things are said in English. You do this by reading and listening to correct English sentences of other people (ideally, native speakers).

Reading and listening are both good ways to develop your English, but reading is usually much easier than listening for various reasons. With the help of a good dictionary, you can understand English texts much more easily than, for example, English television or movies.

In this article, I will show why reading English texts on your own is the way to go. The arguments will fall into three categories: Intensity, Motivation and Authenticity.


If you read a few books in English, you will see that your English has become better. You will start using new vocabulary and grammar in your school compositions and e-mail messages. You will be surprised, but English phrases will just come to you when you are writing or speaking! Things like the past simple tense and how to use the word “since” will become part of you. You will use them automatically, without thinking. Correct phrases will just appear in your head.

It will be easy to use English, because your brain will only be repeating the things that it has seen many times. By reading a book in English, you have given your brain thousands of English sentences. They are part of you now. How can you make a mistake and say “I feeled bad”, if you have seen the correct phrase (“I felt bad”) 250 times in the last book you’ve read?

You need 1000s of phrases to speak English fluently. To be able to use thousands of phrases, you must read tens of thousands of phrases, because you will forget a lot of what you read.

If you just read when your teacher tells you to (e.g. 2 short articles per week in your English class), you are not going to make any progress. At such a rate, even if you learn something one week, you will forget it next week. You need to read, on average, at least a few pages per day. For this, you need to take charge of your learning — get some books and start reading on your own.

If you don’t believe that reading on your own will dramatically change your English, consider this: In a week, a typical intermediate English learner who attends 4 hours of English classes learns maybe 5 new words or phrases from reading 2 pages in English plus another 5 from other sources (listening, conversation with teacher). Sure, they write down more than this, but after a week they remember less than 50% of the knowledge.

If you read 20 pages per week (which is only 3 per day), you will learn, mathematically, about 50 new words or phrases per week. If you read 40 pages per week (6 per day), you will learn 100 new words or phrases per week.

As you see, it’s not very hard to beat the average learner. At 6 pages per day, you’re already learning 10 times faster. Which means that you’re learning in 1 year what the average learner learns in 10 years.

I’m giving you all these numbers because I want you to realize one thing: If you have been an “average learner”, you cannot even begin to imagine how quickly you can develop your English skills with a little work on your own. The difference between readers and non-readers is that big. (Take a minute to read the passage in the box to the right to see what I mean.)


You need to start reading on your own not just because it is effective, but also because it is so damn motivating. When you read on your own, you read something you chose yourself, something you really find interesting, rather than something your teacher told you to read. As a result, you read much more willingly and spend more time on it.

If you choose texts which are interesting and fun (Harry Potter, an article about computers, sports news, movie reviews, e-mail messages from friends, an Internet forum on relationships — whatever fits your bill), reading will not be something you have to do. It will be something you want to do. Once you try it, you will probably be thankful that you can understand English and read such great stuff!

Furthermore, when you read something that matters to you, you can remember much more. For example, if you read an article your teacher gave you, you want to read it quickly and be done with it. But if you read the lyrics of a new song by your favorite band, you’re much more likely to repeat them to yourself and keep them in your memory — together with all the grammar and vocabulary.

A lot of people associate English with unpleasant things. For example, they think “I must learn English or else I won’t find a job” or “I must learn English or I won’t get a passing grade”. In their minds, studying English is something they have to do, even though they would rather not do it — just like they would rather not have to go to school or work.

Those who read on their own think differently. For them, English is something which helps them achieve their own goals, such as reading the latest book by Stephen King or talking to people from other countries in an online forum. They are much more willing to spend time on English, even in ways which are not directly related to their interests, e.g. learning with SuperMemo or asking grammar questions on discussion groups. This shows that “free reading” improves your general motivation for English.


I believe it’s important to learn from real American and British sources instead of resources prepared especially for English learners. If you see a phrase in a book or in a blog, you know it’s really used in the English-speaking world.

By contrast, texts used in English classes often attempt to teach “proper” English, stripped of any informal expressions, such as crap, sucks or stuff. Authors of such texts probably disapprove of such phrases and believe that learners don’t need them. But the fact is that most learners would choose relaxed, natural language — the language of regular educated Americans and Britons — over the stuffy standards of the proper-speaking “elite”. Which is another reason why learners should go beyond English classes and start reading “real-life English” on their own.


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March 9, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

    Comment by Mr WordPress | March 9, 2007 | Reply


    I sing

    How do we make the Simple Present Tense?
    subject + auxiliary verb + main verb
    do base

    There are three important exceptions:

    For positive sentences, we do not normally use the auxiliary.
    For the 3rd person singular (he, she, it), we add s to the main verb or es to the auxiliary.
    For the verb to be, we do not use an auxiliary, even for questions and negatives.
    Look at these examples with the main verb like:

    subject auxiliary verb main verb
    + I, you, we, they like coffee.
    He, she, it likes coffee.
    – I, you, we, they do not like coffee.
    He, she, it does not like coffee.
    ? Do I, you, we, they like coffee?
    Does he, she, it like coffee?

    Look at these examples with the main verb be. Notice that there is no auxiliary:

    subject main verb
    + I am French.
    You, we, they are French.
    He, she, it is French.
    – I am not old.
    You, we, they are not old.
    He, she, it is not old.
    ? Am I late?
    Are you, we, they late?
    Is he, she, it late?

    How do we use the Simple Present Tense?
    We use the simple present tense when:

    the action is general
    the action happens all the time, or habitually, in the past, present and future
    the action is not only happening now
    the statement is always true
    John drives a taxi.
    past present future


    It is John’s job to drive a taxi. He does it every day. Past, present and future.

    Look at these examples:

    I live in New York.
    The Moon goes round the Earth.
    John drives a taxi.
    He does not drive a bus.
    We do not work at night.
    Do you play football?
    Note that with the verb to be, we can also use the simple present tense for situations that are not general. We can use the simple present tense to talk about now. Look at these examples of the verb “to be” in the simple present tense—some of them are general, some of them are now:

    Am I right?
    Tara is not at home.
    You are happy.
    past present future


    The situation is now.
    I am not fat.
    Why are you so beautiful?
    Ram is tall.
    past present future


    The situation is general. Past, present and future.

    Comment by SIMPLE PRESENT | March 9, 2007 | Reply

  3. hello professor seems to me I articulate super interesting, seems to me that the standards set for comineso of speaking, listening and to write English if they are the necessary ones for it and it seems to me that if is the right when it affirms that reading daily it learns new words. or new fraces that later utilisaremos in our vucabulario

    Comment by viviana orozco | March 15, 2007 | Reply

  4. on the other hand I believe that the English is due to learn because like same you escrive you are a door that is opened for a better work or to travel or to posecionar themselves in they agran company that demands east language, but the English not only is due to learn for this if not so that also he allows us to advance at some future date in but studies

    Comment by viviana orozco | March 15, 2007 | Reply

  5. Very interesting…
    Because, I want to speak English, think in English, read and liste to correct English..
    Thank you..

    Comment by William Beltran (Unipamplona) | March 15, 2007 | Reply

  6. this article that I have read, has a important and a new ideas, that I support, to read is something that contributes to the personal growth and of course to the english learning; in addiction, the poeple that is studing english must to read a auntentical texts in english that show them the real situation of the countrys that use english languaje.

    Comment by alix contreras | March 15, 2007 | Reply

  7. refers to the lyrics song is true taht we can learning so muchs with de phrases and the gramatic structure that we can find in the songs.

    Comment by alix contreras | March 15, 2007 | Reply

  8. I think that the article is inportant for make work and study.

    the article has good ideas for the curse the english for I can speaking,listening and write in english

    Comment by Heider Gomez Machado | March 16, 2007 | Reply

  9. This one is a very important article, since it(he,she) shows us that the Englishman(English) is very important because we must bear in mind the form in which a phrase is shaped, and we cannot happen(pass) such and since(as,like) he(she) writes himself(herself) in Spanish, we have to use new vocabulary to be handling better our lexicon.
    Thank you.

    Comment by leidy johanna merchan blanco | March 16, 2007 | Reply

  10. we like us,because works and learn whats are the topics that are importants for speak english

    Comment by larry francisco vasquez,leidy johanna blanco,orlando valderrama | March 16, 2007 | Reply

  11. We need this article for our lives, because it’s a “motivation”, after read this, I wanna read something… I wanna search pages or text about my interest… as Alix says… when you sing a song, you’re listening, reading (the lyrics) and speaking… but, maybe, you’ll have to talk us about this and will motivate us to read and explain our interest in the classroom or to sing a song too…

    In this moment I like to practice, watching a movie with the subtitles in english.

    Comment by Martin Faura | March 17, 2007 | Reply

  12. 17, of March, 2007
    Dirijido: teacher:JOSUE ARNULFO JAIMES
    COMMENTARY ON THE ARTICLE: welcome to the world in English

    MY OPINION WITH REGARD TO THE TOPIC seems to me that to read books, to practise, ithe,she is to be focusing in what really the pupil wants to learn if this one interested party is a great council that wants to give us and to seem to me to be very productive and a professional of hisher,your part report.


    Comment by yamile carolina leon morales | March 18, 2007 | Reply




    Comment by JOHNNIER (JGF) | March 18, 2007 | Reply

  14. hello teacher, I will want to speak, read and listen the english as other lenguage thanks you not more

    Comment by jhoan portilla | March 19, 2007 | Reply

  15. i think this article is very interesting because give us the idea of to learn the english language reading, this is a first step a big step for begin to learn to practice

    Comment by luis sandoval | March 19, 2007 | Reply

  16. My opinion about the article is very interesting, so i wanna ju7st speak and that my thoughts it gonna be in english. The read very times because i want the parcial….. thank you for you atention

    Comment by Julio Cesar Atuesta Fuentes | March 19, 2007 | Reply

  17. It’s an interesting reading cause it gives you three exellents weapons to face the english learning.
    It’s true that you need to read things you are interested on; but you must know how to chose the kind of reading; maybe you are reading the same topic and learning nothing new.
    It’s important to have an schedule of one’s own and practice it very hard; but the most important thing is that you must be really interested on learning.

    Comment by julian zambrano | March 19, 2007 | Reply

  18. teacher: josue jaimes

    For our language, English is very important to have a better communication with other people and to exchange customs or culture since we as students should study and to have methods of studies for the improvement of the one speaks, it notarizes, to read and to listen.
    Being that we should carry out different exercises to be able to capture and to carry out very clearly this is so that every day to have more vocabulary in our English.

    Thanking for their town council and being this very clear I will carry out it the possible biggest time.


    GROUP “BC”

    Comment by MARIA YURAIMA ORTIZ | March 19, 2007 | Reply

  19. teacher, i have read your class and have liked very interesting and important because i want to learn to speak, to think, and to write in english.

    the languagues it’s like me and and for that reason I need to specialize but in the subject.

    see you in class, thank you …

    Comment by rafael gutierrrez mendoza | March 19, 2007 | Reply

  20. professor, pleases much to me that there open you this class of forum, can be said so that it lets to us improve our writing.
    the leaves that you gave us let much to us think so that we begin to practice with no need by our own account of which haiga somebody diciendonos that we must do. this is going to serve to us as much aid .

    thank you…

    Comment by rafael gutierrrez mendoza | March 19, 2007 | Reply

  21. is very nice that my classmakes are giving to this space their opinions, their ideas, it situation only show us the great satisfaction that every body are felling with this activitie. Don’t matter that we make mistakes the importan in a first time is has participated.

    Congratulations dear students I think that te theacher is taking into account all our words.

    Comment by alix contreras | March 20, 2007 | Reply

  22. this special page in by the subjects seems to me very interesting which are touched like the authenticity, motivaciòn, the simple present and I want that these subjects are reinforced in classes and mainly that with you we pruned to learn new vocabulary and pronunciaciòn.
    Thanks teacher

    Comment by Sandra Milena Ochoa C. | March 20, 2007 | Reply

  23. It She seems to me to be interesting for the motivation and genuineness of the topics as that of the simple present though ojala it she was doing a revision to us in one of the close classes

    Comment by DIANA ALEJANDRA CORREA C. | March 20, 2007 | Reply

  24. Hello
    Teacher Josue Jaimes.

    The page seems to me very interesting since there is we can learn and to correct many errors that we have, although for some it becomes difficult to us because we know very little vocabulary, but on us the interest depends, its subjects are very appropriate motivates to us to follow.

    Comment by Nohemi jimenez | March 20, 2007 | Reply

    Is a article of much importance.
    Is very interesting, i will want to speak .Always is good to have a base and the truth not to having idea of this (article)..


    Comment by JENNIFER CAROLINA GARZON | March 20, 2007 | Reply

  26. Is very interesting, to speak English, let’s think in English, and undoubtedly let’s listen English, and first of all intensity, motivation, and authenticity. I think that it is a great advice. thank you.

    Comment by JONATHAN ALEXIS FLOREZ MONCADA | March 21, 2007 | Reply

  27. I think that it is an article very important because it showed us learn more vocabulary of a way more didactic and important for our live ,as it give as three good bases for read, speak and writte in english….

    Comment by alejandra gomez ojeda | March 21, 2007 | Reply

  28. It’s important for me to get more vocabulary and read different things of different kind of items;
    to listen to music and to watch english movies. That’s a good way to learn englishfaster. To tell the true i liked this article a lot and i will follow those tips to inprove my english.

    Comment by Mauricio Pulido | March 22, 2007 | Reply

  29. it’s nice to find the way to learn english in order to know stuff about this culture, maybe if you have the chance to travel to another country where people speak in english all the time.
    to be brief english the best nowadays and a’m awfully grateful with it because teaching it has been the way to earn money and to be satisfied with I’m doing

    Comment by john jairo santiago | March 22, 2007 | Reply

  30. it’s, very interesting to get a better vocabulary by mean of movies. songs, etc
    this tips are the base of the learning an if we follow them we will aproach all the tools from the teacher , the books . our classmates , so on

    Comment by andrea stephania amaya del castillo | March 22, 2007 | Reply

  31. I like the reading, because give examples about how learn english more rapid.

    I think that if we put in practice the coinsels of the reading, we will speak english good quickly. I need more vocabulary and i think that reading i will have it.

    Comment by Nixon Andres barreto | March 22, 2007 | Reply

  32. everyone had learned the forms that there are for a good comunication in english , but if there are practic , will be very hard and difficult , is necesary read for understand new words and can comunicate , learn no english of a day to another also listen for learn to hear and understand for express ourselves
    let`s read and let`s listen , let`s pay attention to the that know and give once best form of learning

    Comment by giovanni martin rolon | March 23, 2007 | Reply

  33. It’s important to learn resources of english for reading and listening to correct , can speaking fluently and writing start using new vocabulary and grammar, for understand compositions (messages) and conversation with teacher, interest for improves the motivation by english.

    Comment by Tatiana Yaneth Marquez | March 27, 2007 | Reply

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