Can reading novels improve your English? The short answer is yes!
Of course it can. If you are getting more exposure to English your English should improve.
However it’s not as simple as that. If you’re reading old books with language that isn’t relevant or books that are too difficult for you then you may not actually see that much improvement.
But don’t worry, there are steps you can take to maximise your learning whilst reading.
So can reading novels improve your English? Let’s take a look at if this is possible and how you can increase your chances of improving your English skills through reading.
Finding A Novel For Your Level
The first thing you need to do when looking for a novel to help improve your English is to find a novel that is suitable for your level.
The first mistake that many people make is finding a novel that may be too difficult for them because they want to read that specific novel.
If you read a book that’s too difficult for you, you won’t be able to take in the information and your brain may even switch off while you read.
There may be books that look interesting to you but if their level is too difficult you’re not going to benefit from them.
In that circumstance it would be better to find a book that is more suitable to the level you’re at than to try and read Charles Dickens if you’re only a beginner.
If you’re at a beginner level then try and read children’s books or graded readers.
If you’re at an intermediate level you can try more difficult texts.
And if you’re at an advanced level then you have many more options available.
The most important thing is to find a novel at your level so it challenges you but it’s still readable.
Finding A Novel That Interests You
Another important thing when reading novels to improve your English is to find a novel that interests you!
If you wouldn’t read it in your own language then don’t try and read it in English.
Reading should be fun and if you’re trying to improve your English then it will already be a bit difficult. Don’t make this more difficult by finding a book that you aren’t interested in.
You’ll have much more success if you look for a book that you’re interested in and you would want to read for fun not just to learn.
That way you’re more likely to continue reading the book even if it becomes difficult.
So make sure you choose an English novel that you find interesting as well as it being suitable for your level.
Finding a Novel That’s Relevant Today
Lots of people want to read older novels like Jane Austen or Shakespeare when they’re learning English.
These authors are famous and people want to know why.
However, unless your English is near native and you want to learn more about English literature, choosing these stories may not be for you.
This is because as great as those older books are, they tend to use language that is outdated and not used anymore.
Of course, some of the words in the books will still be used today, but others won’t.
A big problem is the dialogues. The conversations that characters have in older books don’t tend to be very natural and you wouldn’t hear people talking like that nowadays.
If you’re reading to specifically improve your English then it might be better for you to read modern books with more natural dialogues.
However, if you’re looking to improve your English but learn more about English literature then feel free to pick up Chaucer and see how you go.
Why Not Try Graded Readers?
If your English is already quite advanced then maybe you can skip graded readers and go straight to English novels.
But if your English reading skills are at a beginner or intermediate level then you may want to try reading graded readers to improve your English.
A graded reader is a book or novel that has been written specifically for a level. So if you’re a beginner you can find a book written for beginners etc. This can be very useful as you know immediately if a book is appropriate for you rather than having to try lots of different books.
The only problem with graded readers is that sometimes they’re not as good as regular novels, but our answer to this would be: you just haven’t found the right graded reader yet.
So will reading a novel actually improve your English?
You’ll have to start reading to find out, but if you find something that is appropriate to your reading level and something that you find interesting then we think it should.
Let us know which novels you find!