Five tips to improve your reading skills
In this week's Premier Skills English podcast, Rich and Jack talk about the latest news from the world of football as Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester City all go through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and Leicester City upset Sevilla in the Champions League. The language focus this week is on different ways to improve your reading skills. Jack and Rich share five tips that could help you with your reading skills and make it easier for you to understand difficult vocabulary. We also have a new football phrase for you to guess and announce our Player of the Week. Enjoy!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. You can see two examples here:
Leicester City beat Sevilla 2-0 in the Champions League and won 3-2 on aggregate.
We have two mouth-watering semi-finals to look forward to in a few week's time.
There were a few more tricky words in the podcast. Can you remember all of them? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words in context. This can really help with understanding.
Learner Training - Reading Skills
In this week's podcast, Rich and Jack shared five tips to improve your reading. Think about the advice they gave you and how it can help you develop different learning strategies and study skills. Look at the five tips again. Do you do any of these things? Do you think they could help you when reading in English?
Five tips to help you with your reading
- Read extensively. Read as much as you can whenever you can. Read for enjoyment and to find out things you need or want to find out about. Learning English should be the second reason for reading something in English.
- Guess vocabulary from context. Don't stop reading because you don't understand a word. Use the rest of the sentence to help you understand the meaning of the word.
- Use a good online dictionary or extension. Sometimes context is not enough. Use an online dictionary, in English, that gives you a definition, the pronunciation and example sentences. You can also expand your vocabulary at the same time if the word has different parts of speech.
- Re-read. If you didn't understand a paragraph or a chapter in a book, read it again. Sometimes when we are reading we can lose concentration so it can be helpful to read parts of a text again to help understanding.
- Summarise. At the end of a paragraph, article, chapter or book think about the content and summarise what it was about in your head. Alternatively, talk about what you have read with a friend or family member, this could be in English or your own language!
Using an online dictionary
One of the tips that Jack and Rich gave you in the podcast was using a good online dictionary or an extension or add-on to your web browser that allows you to click on any word, in any article and get a definition for it. Both Oxford and Cambridge have good online dictionaries. These dictionaries give you definitions, pronunciation and examples. If you want more detail on how to use a word, Oxford and Cambridge both have specialised learner dictionaries, too. These dictionaries are aimed at English language learners and are easier to use and give you more examples; the Cambridge dictionary also offers translations in many different languages.
Adding an extension to your web browser
Sometimes looking up a word in a dictionary, even if it is online, can take too much time. If you want something which is faster, you could add an extension to your web browser. A popular extension if you use Google Chrome is Google Dictionary. After adding this extension, you are able to double click on any word in an article and a definition and the pronunciation of the word pops up on the screen. It is not necessary to leave the page you are reading. There is a similar extension if you use Firefox, too!
Do you use an online dictionary? What do you read in English? Could you read in English more? Let us know in the comments section below.
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast.
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English. What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s show, we’re going to talk about the latest in the Premier League and we’re going to give you five tips to help you with your reading skills.
Jack Reading skills? I see that you have the newspaper there, Rich. What are you reading about?
Rich: Ah, you know politics, the economy, world affairs.
Jack: But, you’re looking at the back pages.
Rich: Ah yes, well, err… OK, I’m actually reading about Leicester’s win against Sevilla in the Champions League.
Jack: That’s OK, you know you don’t have to read about serious topics to improve your reading skills.
Rich: Jack! Have you really just said that football is not important! I’m just joking. But, that’s what we’re looking at this week - reading and why it’s important when you’re learning English.
Jack: But first let’s take that newspaper you’re reading and look at the Premier League headlines.
Rich: Big hitters are all into the semis at Wembley.
Jack: It’s a fantastic semi-final line-up in the FA Cup. Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea all got through and we now have two mouth-watering semi-finals to look forward to in a few week’s time.
Rich: Liverpool take advantage in the Premier League.
Jack: Liverpool were the only team in the top six in Premier League action last weekend. The Reds took full advantage by beating Burnley and extending the gap between themselves and Arsenal to 5 points.
Rich: Leicester look like Champions again.
Jack: Leicester City beat Sevilla 2-0 in the Champions League and won 3-2 on aggregate to go through to the Champions League quarter-finals. Goals from their captain, Wes Morgan, and Marc Albrighton gave them a famous victory.
Rich: Wow! A great win for Leicester. Can they win the Champions League?
Jack: Surely not, but you never know….nobody thought they could win the Premier League either!
Rich: We said earlier that we are going to give you five tips to improve your reading skills in this week’s podcast.
Jack: Let’s start by thinking about what we read. Some people, like Rich, still read real newspapers, but a lot of us get our news online these days. We read newspapers online, we read social media all the time and many of us read books on tablets and other machines rather than buying books or borrowing them from a library.
Rich: We are reading all the time. Even when we are not online we read adverts on the TV or in the street, we read road signs, we might need to read an instruction booklet for a computer game or we might be reading the packaging of products we buy in shops.
Jack: So, reading is important and we read a lot. And when we read in a foreign language we should try to read in the same way as we do in our own language.
Rich: And we should read things that we enjoy about topics that we enjoy.
Jack: The important thing is to read extensively. To read a lot. I think this is the most important thing. If we read a lot, we will improve our vocabulary and reading and understanding will get easier and easier.
Rich: So tip number one is to read in English as much as you can for enjoyment or for a real purpose. English can be the second reason for reading something.
Jack: For example, if you want to read about the match between Chelsea and Manchester Utd, read it in English. You're reading it because you want to know about the match - and you’re practising English.
Rich: So reading as much as you can is our first tip, but what can you do when you are reading to understand more?
Jack: Sometimes you want to think about your reading skills and unknown vocabulary is often the biggest problem when reading.
Rich: Often you can ignore a few words and still understand the text but sometimes, if you don’t understand a word, you might not understand what you’re reading.
Jack: Our second tip to improve your reading skills is to guess words from context.
Rich: When you see a word that you don’t understand, think about the rest of the sentence and the sentence that came before and the sentence that comes after. The rest of the text can often give you enough clues to understand the word.
Jack: For example, let’s look at one of the headlines in your newspaper, Rich. I can see one, it says; ‘N’Golo Kante was a ******* already, but Antonio Conte has made him better.’
Rich: We’ve bleeped out one word because this is what it is like when you don’t understand an item of vocabulary. But, even when you don’t know a word you can use the context of the sentence and the grammar to make a good guess.
Jack: We know that we’re looking for a noun because we have the indefinite article before the word we don’t know.
Rich: Also, because the sentence uses ‘already’ and ‘but’ we know that the phrase is being used to contrast something now with something in the past.
Jack: And, we know it’s something positive because it is better than before. So, there is a lot of context in the sentence but there is also context outside the text - what you probably already know.
Rich: You probably also know that Kante is a good player and is having a good season. You probably also know he won the Premier League with Leicester last season.
Jack; So we can use the language for clues but we can also use our knowledge of the topic.
Rich: So, anyway, what was the missing word?
Jack: The missing word was ‘champion’. And you probably got the meaning of the sentence from the context even if you didn’t guess the word exactly.
Rich: But the word could have been ‘winner’ or ‘success’ and sometimes understanding the general meaning isn’t sufficient or it’s impossible to guess the word from context.
Jack: For example, listen to this next sentence: Harry Kane scored a lovely ********. Now, the context can give you some of the information. We know it’s a type of goal but it’s impossible to know what type of goal.
Rich: It could be a backheel, a volley, a free-kick, a penalty. If you don’t know the word, the context won’t help you here.
Jack: So, tip number three is, use a good online dictionary. As we spoke about before, a lot of our reading takes place online so it’s easy to use an online dictionary.
Rich: Cambridge and Oxford do good online dictionaries. And when you look up a definition you can also learn the pronunciation of a word and see the word in example sentences.
Jack: And you will also be able to see the different parts of speech of the word. Many words can be changed and manipulated between their noun, adjective verb and adverb.
Rich: For example, a football manager manages. Here we can see the noun and the verb in the same sentence.
Jack: Creative midfielder create lots of chances during a match. Here we have an adjective and verb.
Rich: And when you use an online dictionary you can learn these different parts of speech at the same time. Increasing your vocabulary knowledge will help your reading.
Jack: As well as online dictionaries you can also install dictionary extensions or add-ons in your web browser.
Rich: One example is the Google dictionary extension you can add to Google Chrome. It allows you to hover over any word in a text and it will give you a definition. I think it is very, very useful.
Jack: Tip number four is to re-read. Sometimes you get to the end of a section or a page or a chapter and you realise that you haven’t understood anything or you have forgotten what you have just read.
Rich: Yes, I often have to re-read something again, especially if it’s on a topic that I am unfamiliar with.
Jack: It can be useful to re-read because like Rich you may not have been concentrating fully when you were reading.
Rich: This leads to tip number five which is summarising. One way to check that you have understood is to think about what you have just read.
Jack: At the end of an article, a chapter in a book or even at the end of a difficult paragraph, think about the main ideas and what it was about.
Rich: You can even talk about it with a friend or family member.
Jack: Yes, and it doesn’t have to be in English either. You can just start a conversation by saying; ‘DId you hear about this’ or ‘I read earlier…….’
Rich: Exactly, use what you have read to build conversations with friends and family and this can be in English or your language. Either way you are checking your understanding of what you read.
Jack: So, there are our five tips to improve your reading. Let’s remind you what they are.
Rich: Tip number one: read as much as you can.
Jack: Tip number two: guess words from context.
Rich: Tip number three: use a good online dictionary.
Jack: Tip number four: re-read.
Rich: Tip number five: summarise.
Jack: We have lots of reading materials on the website. Why don’t you try reading about your favourite club or player and or try reading one of our webcomics!
Rich: Right, let’s get back to the football.
Player of the Week
Jack: Our player of the week this week is a player who scored a hat-trick last weekend.
Rich: It must be Son Heung Min who plays for Tottenham. He got a hat-trick in the FA Cup against Millwall.
Jack: No it’s not Son Heung Min. It’s Bournemouth’s Joshua King. He got all three goals in their 3-2 win against West Ham. He could have scored four but he missed a first half penalty.
Rich: He sounds very English but he’s actually Norwegian with a dad from Ghana. He was at Manchester Utd for four years but never played for the first team.
Jack: Well I think he might score the goals that keep Bournemouth up this season.
Rich: I think you might be right!
Can you work out this week’s football phrase?
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first, last week’s football phrase. The phrase was ‘to be banned’ and it means to be officially stopped from doing something.
Rich: Yes, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is banned at the moment.
Jack: Yes, they missed him against Chelsea but at least he can play in the Europa League. Well done to Mon and Ayman from Egypt, Liubomyr from Ukraine, Elghoul and Aladine05 from Algeria, and Kwesimanifest from Ghana. You all got the right answer.
Rich: What’s this week’s phrase?
Jack: This week’s phrase is to *** *******. It’s a phrasal verb that has lots of meanings but in a football context it means to qualify for the next round of a competition. For example, Arsenal *** ****** to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. It can also mean to succeed in an exam. He *** ****** the exam without any problems.
Rich: And we’ve *** ****** another podcast, Jack!
Jack: That’s right, that’s all we have time for this week.
Rich: Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below.
Jack: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
Check your understanding:
What do you think?
In this week’s podcast, Jack and Rich shared five tips to improve your reading skills.
Was the advice useful? Do you have any other tips to improve reading skills?
Do you read a lot in English? What do you read? Do you read match reports?
Could you recommend something for other learners to read?
Remember to write your guess at this week's football phrase and the questions above in the comments section below.