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Five reasons why you should read a novel in English

Updated: May 26, 2021

Okay, I am biased. I have always loved reading so it makes sense that I would recommend reading to anyone who wants to learn and improve their English. But why? What does reading a novel give you that reading an article, say, or watching the film version don't? Read on to find out! Learn natural English (rather than 'newspaper' English or 'course book' English)

Novels are usually written to imitate real life and natural conversations. Even fantasy stories such as the Narnia stories imitate natural conversations. By reading novels, you can expose yourself to more authentic English than you might find elsewhere. Newspapers, for example, may have a lot of formal vocabulary and little or no dialogue while course books, even at C levels, are often simplified and unrealistic in the way they portray spoken English.

Increase your vocabulary and grammar, quickly Course books and grammar books are fine, but in a novel you can see language being used to create an effect. This is much more memorable than simply completing gap-fills or other exercises. Ideally, you would use a grammar reference book to support you while you read; I usually refer to my grammar book when I notice a new structure.

Listen and read at the same time to create a super-skill It has been proved many times that extensive reading and listening combined is the best way to expand your language. Luckily, it's also the most enjoyable way (certainly in my opinion!). Many novels today can also be found as MP3 recordings (such as on Audible) so that you can listen and read, either at the same time or at different times. I usually find that I understand a text quite differently depending on if I am reading it or listening to it being read by someone else.

Practise different reading styles Because novels tend to be long, you can use them to work on different ways of reading. I would definitely recommend reading each chapter at least twice, with a quick read to get the overall meaning first, followed by a slower, more detailed reading after. You can also use novels to practise summarising skills and note-taking, both very important skills for academic and professional life.

Reading a novel is a huge achievement! Watching a film in English probably won't give you the same sense of achievement that completing a novel can. Reading a novel requires you to fully engage with the story and the characters in a way that a film does not. When you read, you activate your imagination and immerse yourself in the world of the book. To achieve this in your second (or third) language is something to feel very proud of! What should I read? It can be difficult to know where to start! You don't want to read something too difficult because that will become boring. Ideally, choose simpler novels that do not have a very complicated story. You can find some ideas at the websites below. Watch a video about this.,as%20it%20is%20used%20today.

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