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Language and study skills

Reading

How to improve your English language reading skills.

Reading in English, like listening, will help you to improve your vocabulary knowledge, comprehension skill and grammar awareness.

You can use the resources on this page to read English which is written in different styles, both formal and informal, and notice how writing style and tone changes for different purposes (essays, stories, articles and so on).

How to read in English

On most university courses, you will need to do a lot of reading. Make a start now with texts that you choose. Then you'll be more prepared for the longer undergraduate and postgraduate reading!

Read regularly, a little every day, if you can. Choose texts that are interesting and useful to you. If you need to learn about academic writing and vocabulary, read academic journal articles and find reference books in the library or online as ebooks. Read about world issues to develop your ideas and opinions.

Reading the daily news is good, regular, short language practice. It will also help you to learn more about the world around you.

Reading is also something people do for pleasure. Find a story or magazine that you enjoy and try some quiet reading. It can be extremely relaxing!

Maybe include some reading exercises for English learners, which ask you to answer some questions.

If you think reading is boring, look more carefully for a book or magazine article you can really enjoy. If you read about a football match on a sports website in English, this is good reading practice!

Do not be afraid of reading. Use reading techniques, such as looking for important words that you can understand, and don't stop just because there are words you don't understand. Look in a dictionary but only for a few words on each page...you will be very surprised at how much you can understand already!

Where to practise reading in English

Vocabulary

The University Library has Graded Readers which are books for English learners, at all levels. These will help you to learn important words. Graded Readers are on the First Floor, shelf number 428.64. You can see what is available on our suggested books list.

For Academic English, there is the Academic Word List. Remember, aim to learn just a few new words (around 6 to 8) at one time, no more. 

Books, magazines and newspapers

You can read newspapers online.

The University has a large library of free physical books and electronic resources. The staff are very friendly and helpful. Even if you cannot get to the library, you can read an electronic text. Search for a book using the Library catalogue

Read the texts from your course book.

Online resources

BBC News lets you read the news, learn lots of extremely useful vocabulary and choose topics from the menu, including Entertainment, Business and Science.

Want to improve your academic vocabulary? Choose an article that interests you from The Conversation

Read interesting articles about today's world and society at FlipBoard.com

E-readers

You can buy electronic graded readers online cheaply:

  • How Good is your English? app - This app from Oxford Bookworm helps you to find the right level for you and then download books.
  • Many Penguin Readers for Kindle eReaders are available on Amazon.
  • Other publishers, such as Cambridge, also offer electronic readers.

University Library

The University Library has more than just academic books and journals, it also has:

  • Story books and novels
  • A 'School library' with children's and young adults' fiction... and beanbags to sit on
  • A 'recent and recommended fiction' section...for free time reading
  • English language learning books to help you with grammar and vocabulary (First Floor: shelf number 428)
  • Comfortable chairs (and you can bring your own food and drink!)

Enjoy your reading!

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