10 Easy Ways to Improve Your English Reading Skills

improve english reading

This article is sponsored by PTE Academic

Gone are the days of learning being confined to a classroom! Today, if you’d prefer, you can even improve your skills whilst watching Netflix (yes, seriously!). From traditional to creative, here are our 10 favourite ways to practise and perfect your English reading skills.

Language immersion

Language immersion is a popular bilingual learning technique that sees students undertake up to 100% of their classes in their secondary language, resulting in greater comprehension and native-like language skills. Here are some easy ways to adopt similar techniques to improve your English reading.

Read local newspapers and magazines

Consistent exposure to the English language in as many formal and informal forms as possible is an efficient way to practise and improve your English reading skills. By picking up a daily newspaper, you will keep up-to-date with current events, become familiar with diverse reporting and journalistic styles, and increase your ability to read about complex topics

Watch your favourite TV programs and films with English subtitles

Better yet, watch things in English too! Similar to reading an English magazine, immersing yourself in the language during your downtime allows your brain to absorb it in an informal, relaxed setting. You will likely come across a wider variety of words and phrases through popular culture, which can complement more traditional forms of learning. 

Play word-based games

Whether you like more traditional, tangible board games like Scrabble, Balderdash, or the cheeky Cards Against Humanity, or prefer apps like Words With Friends, playing word-based games with your friends and roommates will widen your vocabulary while providing an evening’s entertainment. 

Start choosing a word of the day

This is a fun, engaging way to start expanding your vocabulary. Many day-planners, diaries and calendars display interesting, unique or beautiful words of the day, as do a variety of mobile apps and the Merriam Webster Word of the Day website. Start a Whatsapp group with your friends and family, in Australia and around the world, and each share your word of the day. 

Join a library

As an international student, your budget and baggage limits on your return flight may not allow you to purchase many books while you’re in Australia. This makes your local library your new best friend! While university libraries are great for texts relating to your course, your community library will offer a wide array of non-tertiary reading or audiobook options so you can relax with a great story of your choice while also working on your English reading skills. The best part is, library rentals are generally free!

Carry a notebook to write down interesting words, phrases and slang

Australians have a unique way with words, with Aussie slang confusing many international students. A fantastic way to both learn from and remember your trip Down Under is to write down all the interesting and puzzling words and phrases you’ve heard, ask your Australian friends or colleagues to translate for you, then teach your family and friends once you get home!

Traditional learning techniques

A popular saying in the English language is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, meaning, why change your approach when it is already working well? If you prefer more traditional methods of practising your English reading skills, you might benefit from some of the below.

Create your own mnemonic devices

This language technique helps you remember the spelling of tricky words by assigning a word to each letter. For example, Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move is a fun way to remember the spelling of the word ‘rhythm’. Mnemonics are particularly helpful in remembering odd vowel placement and overcoming other strange English language rules. This method can be tailored to your interests and experiences to make them work best for you. 

Adopt skim-reading

Skim-reading is the act of superficially and quickly reading to pick up the core meaning of the text without spending too much time on each word. Practising skim-reading is a great way to improve your English language comprehension and understand which words and phrases are vital to a sentence.

Get ‘appy

There are thousands of great apps at your fingertips that will help you practise your English reading skills at whatever level and through whichever method you prefer. From the good old dictionary to karaoke, there’s an app for it! Keeping your learning resources on your mobile phone also allows you to practise wherever and whenever the mood strikes you, including downtime on public transport or on breaks at work.  

Leave it to the professionals!

PTE Academic offers a range of fantastic resources for improving your English reading skills. If you prefer a more traditional way of learning, or are preparing to sit PTE Academic, make the most of their official course books, scored practice tests, useful articles (see here and here) and other preparation courses to learn online or offline or on their app at your own pace.