Reading to gain fluency

The best way to improve your English language skills on your own is to read books, magazines, blogs, and poetry in English.

Even if you simply want to improve your ability to have a conversation in English, reading (especially out loud) is your most useful strategy.


When you read in English, you get the rhythms of the language in your head. Some languages are musical and flowing, like Italian. Others are choppy and forceful, like Mandarin Chinese.

English is somewhere in the middle: from its Old French roots, it has long, rolling, Latinate words: instigation, procreation, prevarication. From its Germanic roots, it has words that are barked: kill (as opposed to Latinate murder), spit (as opposed to expectorate).

Most English writing is roughly 50/50, Old French/Germanic, so the rhythms are constantly changing. Reading helps you learn how to shift gears easily from one kind of word flow to another.

Reading is portable and can be broken into small bites. Get in the habit of carrying a Kindle or a book wherever you go; when you have a few minutes to spare, then read!


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