How to start reading in English

How to start reading in English

Do you want to read in English, but you don't know how to start? Here are some tips to help you.

You probably already know that reading can help your English in many ways: it can help improve your understanding, build your vocabulary and even make you better at grammar! 

But how do you start reading in English when you've never done it before? 

If the thought of a long English novel sounds frightening, or simply boring, read on! There are lots of other ways to get reading in English.

Find something that interests you

You need to be interested in the subject you're reading about or you'll soon get bored and give up. So, what are you into? Maybe sport … or films … or cooking? Find a magazine, a blog or a website related to your interests. 

If you're following an international sports competition, read about it in English, as well as in your own language. Read a review of a film you've just seen. Try following a recipe in English and you'll be even happier with the food that you make!

Don't forget to make a note of the new vocabulary that you learn. If you like the subject, you probably enjoy talking about it too. Use the vocabulary you've learned in your conversations!

Read short stories

Do you enjoy reading stories in your own language, with great characters and an exciting plot? Reading a long novel in English can be difficult if you're not used to it. Why not start with short stories? 

It's even better if the story is written at the right level of English for you. 'Graded readers' are especially written for language learners and they exist at different levels, often from beginner to advanced. Perhaps you can find some at your local library. 

On the LearnEnglish website, you'll find some excellent graded short stories in different genres. Do you fancy a tale about a vampire, some science fiction or a detective story? 

There are exercises to help with vocabulary and understanding, and you can even write a comment afterwards to share your ideas about the story.

Make reading a habit

When do you usually read? On the bus to work? In your lunch break? Before bedtime? Experts say that we can create habits more easily if we attach a new activity to something we already do as part of our daily routine. 

So when you have your morning coffee, instead of looking at  photos on social media, what about reading in English for five minutes instead? By doing this every day, it will become a habit – something you do without even thinking about it. 

And according to experts, tiny habits can be the most effective. So think small! Just one page of your book, a few paragraphs of an article or blog post. Habits can be addictive. Soon reading in English will be a part of your daily life.

Move on to longer reads

Once you've built up your English reading habit with articles and short stories, you may feel ready for the challenge of a longer book. 

One idea could be to choose a book that you've already read and enjoyed in your own language. Maybe you read it a while ago and you've forgotten exactly what happens. Read it again in English, and the story will be familiar and easy to follow. 

Another idea is to read the book of a film that you've already seen. Often there are lots more details in the book, but you will already know the context and the characters from the film.

So, hopefully you're now feeling ready and motivated to read in English. And in fact, if you've read to the end of this article, you've already started! So all you need to do now is keep up the good work. 

Find something that interests you, read regularly and soon you'll notice the benefits to your English, as well as learning new things and enjoying exciting stories. Happy reading!

Jo Blackmore


Average: 4.3 (33 votes)
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Submitted by JimmyGuo on Mon, 20/11/2023 - 14:56


I’d like reading a topic which is usually one or two short paragraphs including a sentence with main subject,some sentences explaining the topic, and the last sentence sometimes being an extra info.The structure is clear and is easy to read.

Submitted by elmohamdy72 on Sat, 14/10/2023 - 18:04


To be honest, I didn't read in English before. Just small articles in this platform. But in coming days I wish I can make reading in English a habit for me. And I think the topics which will suit me that which talk about habits of successful people.

Submitted by User_1 on Tue, 27/06/2023 - 15:13


I keep on struggling to read in English.
So, could you suggest some pieces of text that do not scare me?
Maybe not long reading, but with important grammar structures.
Thanks for help

Hello User_1,

Several of us made some suggestions for books in the Books and reading Learning hub topic. If one of them sounds interesting to you, I'd suggest having a look at it and giving it a try. Perhaps you can find it in a library.

There are series of English readers published by Oxford and other publishers. These are classic works of literature or popular novels that have been graded by level, so you could look for one that interests you and has an appropriate level and try it. You might find these in a library, and I'd think many bookshops that have books in English or English textbooks would have some of these as well.

I'm not familiar with any works of fiction that were written to expose the reader to a sequence of grammatical structures. Perhaps one such book exists, but I'm afraid I don't know anything about that.

Best wishes,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by User_1 on Thu, 20/04/2023 - 15:03


Since I struggle to read in English, I would like to receive some suggestions from the team.
I always try to focus on brief stories, articles and texts that seem interesting to me, but I do not manage to keep on my attention, even if for a short time.
I know reading is important and useful, but I do not know how to improve this skill.
Please, could you give me any advice?

Hello User_1,

It's hard for me to give you very detailed advice without knowing you a lot better in terms of your language level, interests, background and so on, but I can give you some general tips.

First of all, read things that are relevant to you and, if possible, that you have expertise in or experience of. Reading is an interactive process between the reader and the text. A good reader is always formulating ideas and expectations as they read and this is key to both motivation and successful understanding. Think about reading, for example, articles about your country or town in English-language media. You may find you disagree with them or consider them ill-informed - that's fine and shows you are interacting actively with the text.

Second, consider reading something in English which you already know well from your own language. One student of mine loves Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and I suggested she read the original text. It was far above her nominal level and should have been too difficult for her, but because she had already read it in translation she was able to understand it and it was a great experience for her.

Third, don't feel that you have to check every word when you're reading. It's OK to get the overall picture even if certain phrases escape us and it can be very demotivating to stop reading every few sentences to look up words. Don't feel that anything less than 100% understanding is a failure. One useful approach is to keep a pen and piece of paper handy to note down words you want to look up later so you can still learn the vocabulary but without interrupting the flow of reading all the time.


I hope those tips are helpful.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,
Thanks for your suggestions.

I always try to read things that are relevant to me, but I struggle to keep my attention on the text.
As much as I am interested in texts/articles/comments, like your answer, at first, the text scares me, and the fear goes on despite all my efforts.
This does not happen for listening; I am quieter, even if I do not understand everything that is said.
Thanks a lot