Extensive Reading

Today I’d like to talk about reading to improve your English.

We’re going to talk about two types of reading: Intensive Reading, and Extensive Reading


So, first off intensive reading is what you probably think of when you think about reading English.

You take a book and you read through, making sure you understand every word and grammar on the page. This can take a long time to look everything up, and usually involves the use of a dictionary.

Above all it’s very slow, and very boring. You might only get one or two pages done in half an hour of reading.


Next is extensive reading, for this type of reading you try to read at a natural pace, as normal speed as you would in your native language. And don’t worry so much if you don’t understand a word or grammar. Just keep reading without looking anything up.

This type of reading is more enjoyable, but you’re not going to understand as much. You might finish 10 pages in 30 minutes, but only understand about 50% of what you read.


extensive 2.pngintensive 2.png

But 50% of 10 pages is a lot more than 100% of 1 page

You’ll learn a lot more by not worrying about the things you don’t understand and by just plowing through and trying to get as much input as possible.

Now the trick is to pick a book that is the right difficulty level for you.


You don’t want a book that’s too easy, that’s in your comfort zone. Something like a baby’s book, or just reading the alphabet.

You don’t want a book that’s way too tough. Don’t pick a book that’s tough for a native speaker to understand.

What you want to do is find something in the middle, your “sweet spot”. Where you can generally kind of understand it, but there’s a lot of troubles.

This might be something  like even a comic book, or children’s book – that’s fine. It might be a book that you’ve already read in your native language. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is to dedicate yourself to reading, everyday,  something that you find interesting in your language. And don’t worry so much if you don’t understand every word.

Audio Version (slow):

Book logos:

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