How to learn to read in English: 7 tips on how to read in English like a native

How to learn to read in English: 7 tips on how to read in English like a native

When you try to learn a foreign language—English, for instance—there are four areas you need to work on: 

  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking, and
  • Reading

Although the majority of English learners believe reading to be the easiest skill to master, the road to fluency is still rocky and patchy. Besides, you don’t just want to learn how to read; you want to become great at really understanding what you read. The linguistic muscle you’re trying to train here is actually reading comprehension.

But learning how to read English isn’t only great for better-quality entertainment (like reading books and comics) or more effective communication over text (for example, with your colleagues or family and friends). It’s also amazing for expanding your vocabulary and becoming fluent in English.

You might’ve noticed this in your native language— you can always tell people who read a lot apart from those who don’t. Avid readers tend to have a much bigger vocabulary, use more advanced grammar, and overall be better at expressing their thoughts clearly.

It works the same way in English.

If you want to speak English confidently and sound like a native, you have to read in English first.

And how do you do that?

Read our article! Let this be your first chunk of important reading on the path to excellent English reading comprehension!

Read regularly, please

You’re probably thinking, “Erm, I thought you were going to tell me how to start reading in English? That’s what I came here for, no? Why are you just telling me to read? I want to know how to!”  

Promise us, we know what we’re talking about. To get better at something, you just need to start and commit to doing it regularly. 

While this tip might be obvious, it’s the most important one on the list. 

As we claimed earlier, reading comprehension is a linguistic muscle. And just like any muscle, it can’t grow without regular workouts. Without regular training it goes down and you’re back to ground zero. You need to remember that there’s no improvement without consistence and persistence.

At first, it might feel like a chore. Good habits are often difficult to adopt. But the best thing you can do is to challenge yourself to read in English every day for at least 15 minutes, without any skips for 21 days. 

It usually takes three weeks to develop a habit. So, after that, you’ll get used to English reads in your life. And that’s how all great stories start. 

Look for the main idea, not the exact meaning of each word

A few paragraphs ago, we said that reading in English might feel difficult at first. But don’t worry—we have a tip to make it easier. 

Don’t try to understand every single word you see in a text. Don’t move from word to word. Instead, move from idea to idea. 

Try to understand the overall meaning of the text, the

Not only will it make reading significantly more enjoyable and quicker, but it will also teach you how to use certain words (the ones you don’t know) in context.

And even if you do come across a word you don’t know and can’t figure out the meaning of no matter what… 

Forget about writing out new words in your vocabulary notebook (yes, you read it right!) 

While this might sound counterintuitive (after all, how are you supposed to learn new words if you don’t write them down—you’ll forget them without this, won’t you?), it’s actually the first rule of successful vocabulary enlargement through reading. 


It slows down the process of reading and turns it into a chore rather than an enjoyable activity. 

And here comes rule number 2: to actually start reading in English, you need to learn to like the process. 

You’re probably thinking now, ‘How am I supposed to learn the new words then?’

We have just the solution. Instead of writing down new words and looking for their translation into your mother tongue, find an explanation of the word and start using it immediately. 

EMERY has this cool thing called a Video Dictionary. It’s got over 100,000 words, and in it, native English speakers with different accents explain each word. They also give examples of how to use it. So, instead of just translating the word, you actually understand what it means and how to use it. Pretty neat, huh?

Video Dictionary in EMERY

And once you know the word, start using it yourself when you talk to native speakers next (with EMERY’s Video Call, it can be whenever you want — we have native speakers available for a real-time conversation at all times, without a schedule). 

Try EMERY now

Choose the reading you like

You remember what we said, right? You need to enjoy the process of reading in English if you want to learn how to read in English well. 

So, instead of going down the usual route of reading old book adaptations for your English level, pick something you actually like. 

Not a big fan of books? No worries, there are short stories, blog articles, magazines, and more! 

Start small, stay current

And if you’re exactly the biggest fan of fictional literature, why not try something else? For example, news stories. Not only do those often come with illustrations (which is always great for reading comprehension), but they also allow you to stay ahed of the curve and up to date with what’s going on in the world. 

The best thing? When it comes to news categories, the choice is all yours:

  • Keen on keeping up with the Kardashians and love to learn all the celebrity gossip? Subscribe to outlets like Daily Mail and TMZ—they have all the latest tea on famous people. 
  • Want to expand your business English vocabulary and stay in tune with the business world updates? Then, publications about business and economics (crypto media, business media, media about economics—you name it!) like The Wall Street Journal and Business Insider are your best friends! 
  • Always want to stay in the loop when it comes to the latest technology? For technology geeks, there are great media like TechCrunch and WIRED. 
  • Just want to follow the world updates and have a bit of everything in your news feed? BBC, Reuters, and The New York Times are where it’s all at. 

And here’s something else… When it comes to news, when something big happens, every media outlet is chatting about it. So, even if you don’t understand every little detail of your current reading in English, you can always turn to your local news outlets for more context. Then, match the two versions—et voila, you have your story for the day completed. 

Speaking of this… 

Try reading something you’ve already read in your native language 

With this tip, it doesn’t matter what your current English reading level is, you will definitely start reading in English. Because the information you see in front of yourself in a foreign language is something you’ve already read in your mother tongue. 

Since you already know all the main ideas and—depending on how attentive you were when reading the book—even some key sentences, the process of reading in English won’t take long. 

Plus, you’ll be automatically linking new words to their meaning. 

Discuss what you’ve read with others

The best way to ensure you really understand what you read is to narrate it back to someone and discuss it with them. Did they get the same impression? Did they understand the main ideas in the way you did? 

If there was some comprehension mistake, the person will correct you. And if you got everything right, you’ll simply have a nice conversation with a friend, relative, or colleague.