Tips on Studying Through Listening and Reading

My students ask me all the time how they can improve their speaking skills. In this post, I will provide you with some useful tips for strengthening your English skills.

What type of learner are you?

It would be helpful if you knew how you learned. Do you prefer to see pictures? Maybe using a picture dictionary or photos would be useful to you. Do you prefer to hear information? Then you should listen to the radio or music.  If you prefer to read or write, then read articles and books and write in a journal. Maybe you learn best when you're moving around. Try practicing English while you clean your house, while you're dancing, or while exercising, or while you're walking to the supermarket.

Input vs Output

Language is developed through a combination of input (reading and listening) and output (speaking and writing). It is important that you include all four methods in your daily practice. That's right, I said daily. You must commit to studying and practicing English every day. Start with 30 minutes a day then increase later if you can.


Reading -- Reading is a great way to increase your vocabulary, which is essential for being able to communicate effectively. Try reading about a subject that interests you. If your hobby is golf, read articles about golf or your favorite golf player. You can also read articles pertaining to your area of employment. If you work in human resources, read trade magazines about human resource laws. That way you also get the benefit of learning terminology specific to your industry. If you love romance books or science fiction, then read that. Children's books are also a great way to improve your reading skills. I study French and I read children's books in French often. I like to read stories or fairy tales I'm familiar with in English, which helps me understand the story in French. If you have children, read the books to your children.

Listening -- Many of my students like to watch YouTube videos, TV shows and movies in English, which is great. I encourage beginner students to start with sitcoms because they're shorter (about 30 minutes) and not as overwhelming as longer movies or TV dramas. Advanced speakers should watch TV dramas and movies for a greater challenge. If you need to use subtitles, that's fine, but eventually you should stop using subtitles. Some TV shows that are good for English language learners are:  Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and My Wife and Kids. Find a TV show that interests you so that learning won't be boring. Music is another way to improve your listening skills. I don't recommend slow songs because the words are stretched and are more difficult to understand. You can also listen to the Learning English Broadcast on VOA News, which is designed to bring world news in slow English for language learners. Each broadcast is 30 minutes. You can find the link below.

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