Reading Skills - Vocabulary

Reading Skills - Vocabulary

One of the best ways for someone learning English to extend their vocabulary is by reading. However, choosing the right materials is very important.

Reading English texts can be enjoyable if you choose the proper texts and materials. What you actually choose to read is determined by your interests and your English standard. Books can be fun but can be intimidating because they are so long. They can also be expensive. If you don't have the time (or the money) to read books then reading news articles is a good way to learn. Many international newspapers publish on the internet for free, so you will be able to find one that is suitable for your interest and proficiency.

Focused reading can help you get the most out of the activity. Language is all about communication and reading is no different. Before you start, ask yourself why you are reading? Is it to learn new vocabulary or to focus on idioms? Are you looking for English grammar features?

Secondly, look over the outline of the text. If it’s a book perhaps look at the chapter headings or the book cover to see if it really interests you. For a newspaper article the headline will usually tell you a lot about what to expect within the whole text. If the headline doesn’t appeal then skip over until you find a more interesting one!

Scanning and skimming are two very similar techniques for extracting information. Scanning involves searching through the text for specific information such as phrases or words which are behind the purpose of your reading (for instance, trying to find “export” whilst reading texts to build your vocabulary for your economics course Skimming entails looking over the whole body of text in order to find the general meaning.

So how do you handle those new words you have no idea about? Well, don’t immediately reach for a dictionary – paper, electronic or online! Try and focus on getting the meaning from the word in context. Read further on to see if you can figure out the meaning that way. Or go to the beginning of the paragraph and read again. Nine times out of ten you will be able to get the general meaning without using an English dictionary. One amazing thing about the English language is their use word stems with prefixes and suffixes attached at the front and end of the word. Many of these prefixes and suffixes are similar, and you are likely to be able to guess the meaning from a new word that you already know.


One of the beautiful things about reading news articles is that you may already know the content of the story because you have read it in your own local language newspaper, or on the television. Actually knowing what the news story is about means that building up your vocabulary becomes so much easier.

Practice makes perfect. Read regularly!!!