Reading is the best way to learn

I have been teaching English for 19 years. I have seen many students try to learn grammar, try to learn long lists of vocabulary, but where does it get them? It is like trying to study people by looking at body parts in a mortuary! A student needs to be in touch with real English. The simplest and most enjoyable is to read, read read in English. Start with books that you find easy (Graded readers). The more you read, the more you will understand. Then you can progress to ‘real’ books. Just choose books you enjoy and read wherever you can - on the train, in bed, sitting on the toilet.
I have written 14 readers and I know they work with the people who read them. I have some free stories on my website and you may like to look at my books as well.
Happy Reading!

Welcome to the forum:)
I can’t do anything more than agree :slight_smile: That’s the way I’ve been learning english and I can’t complain about the results :smiley:

Hi Jeremy,

I’d like to know if the readers you’ve written are original or not. I’ve seen many shortened and simplified versions of classic literature, and I even started reading some of them. I must say that I didn’t like it. That’s why I tried reading children’s stories, as the vocabulary was more likely to be understandable for me, and the stories were original.

I’ve also read some "Reader’s digest"s shortened tales, and I always was very dissapointed.

So, could you please tell me if you write your own stories? Is it hard for you to have to stick to just an amount limit of vocabulary, or to a basic grammar?

Just like you, I don’t like simplified readers. Charles Dickens wrote wonderful literature and it should remain wonderful - not turned into Janet and John. All my work is original - simple stories which, I hope, are a pleasure to read. I normally write a story and then decide with my editors which level it belongs to. I have just done some work for a British publisher where I had to write stories of just 140 words using no more than 40 different words… That was a real challenge!

Hello Jeremy! I visited your website and I like the way you have written about your bicycle trips. It’s almost like a picture story. And I have a question: Can you tell us the 40 words you used in the story you have written for that British publisher? Maybe we can use those words to to write sentences too?

Hi Andreana,
I am sorry I can’t tell you the 40 words - I had to sign a contract of secrecy. I’m glad you liked my ‘picture stories’. I had fun on the journeys - and writing about them.

Hi again Jeremy! You have answered so fast. Thank you. OK, I understand you are not allowed to reveal those 40 words to us. It surely is difficult to write a story with only 40 words. On the other hand many people don’t know that many words anyway :slight_smile: Speaking of words. Where did you learn the expression besitos?

I’m a beginner and you write that reading is very preferable. But there is a lot of new words and I can’t take all new words in. So do I have to write it down every time? it takes a long time. And maybe I should only look words up in a dictionary and after some time I will remember it. I don’t want to cram some words because it is the worst way to understand words logically.

Hello Simon, many thanks for sharing your experiences with us. How exactly do you define the term ‘beginner’? I think your English quite good, you can express your thoughts in English exchange ideas. That’s a very important and useful skill. As for your question, what you could try is the following. When you are reading a text that contains new vocabulary you should select those words and phrases you find interesting. First you write each phrase or word down along with the sentence it occurs in. You can use a notebook that you carry with you when you go shopping or for a walk. For example, when you are sitting in the tram you can take out your notebook and read the sentences you wrote down earlier. Take a look at them and try to memorize them. There is no need to write down every single new word at once. First it might appear to you that there are so many new words but the more books you read the more words you will learn and the number of new words will decrease over time. As a matter of fact your vocabulary will grow to a point at which it will be fun to you to find new words.
Let me know what you think.

TOEIC listening, photographs: Highway traffic[YSaerTTEW443543]

I’m sorry, I have forgotten about registering above.

It is heartening to find so much on getting a hold on the language.
But why should you?
The present focus is only on communicatve skills.
The beauty is, England may not suffer from any economic difficulties as long as this language lasts, since as on date the language happens to be the best seller. Computers and software fall behind.

You have made some rather curious comments - at least maybe I haven’t got the point. What do you mean exactly when you say: It is heartening to find so much on getting a hold on the language. ?

I think reading books in English is a good way of learning the language. But the problem with English is that you often don’t know how to pronounce a word. That makes reading texts with new words in them quite difficult.

But Nicole, you don’t need to know the pronunciation in order to be able to understand. I am sure you want to as you are keen to learn English but why not accept that reading is a very enjoyable way to learn lots of English - and you can pick up pronunciation in other ways, listening to music, radio etc.

Actually I don’t know what you (Narayanan Krishnaswamy) mean above. Maybe I should have summarized my post. In one sentence I can say that we should read a lot, because it’s very helpful. Look at some kids, they read fairy tales, they have lots of books for school and this is the best way to extend their skills. If adult people do the same things when they learn English, they will develop and gain new skills in a very short time, I guess.
If I can help you and other lerners, look at this, please: … s-toc.html
It’s simply, if you don’t understand, read a story in your native language.

When I was child I didn’t read all these stories because I hadn’t much time (my friends were more important than some Grimm’s fairy tales), so I will do it now but in English :-). Hope this helps.

Have a nice day & best wishes,

I think you may well have used the wrong phrasal verb. Hold on means hold something in a firm or tight way as on a bus when it turns sharply. If you like you can have a look at the index for ESL LESSONS and you can see what I have written explaining and using phrasal verbs with hold.

Maybe the “Guest” meant getting a hold of something? I don’t know; depends on what was in his/her mind.

OK! I believe that reading, at least in English, is not the best method for learning the language. I say that because written English and spoken English are just two worlds apart.

In this language, you cannot learn a set of pronunciation rules that will let you read properly. Pronunciation is simply… a mess, hehehe. Please, don’t misunderstand me, I do like English.

I feel that the best thing an English learner can do is listen and listen and listen first. When reading, it’s way better if the person has the audio of the conversation in order to make his pronunciation as best he/she can.

Hope this helps a bit.


Hi all,

I’m beginner of learn English Thank you for your advice… READING READING READING… But I don’t understand most anything…

Please support me


Moonman, your English is not bad. You can read graded readers for sure. Start with easy levels - where only 2-3 words per page are new for you. The more you read, the more you will understand.
Good luck


I think what was meant here was just what the expression
signifies. So ‘getting a hold on English’ would be ‘to have a good command of English’.