How to Improve your General English by Active Reading

Do you have have problems with your general English?

Active reading (and listening) will help you

What I’m going to share with you today is my advice on how to improve your general English, by which I mean your lexis – that’s vocabulary to normal people  – and grammar.  It will also help you to learn sentences suitable for IELTS speaking, & writing.

Reading IELTS writing Task 1 Task 2 model answers charts tables Speaking

If you make mistakes with tenses, articles, plurals, complex sentences, and so on, then you really will benefit from active reading.

Here’s what you need to do.

Find some English which is well-written, and suitable for IELTS – my model answers would be ideal, and so would any of my blog posts.

Read a phrase aloud, and then repeat it.  If you're more advanced, do it with a longer phrase or a sentence.

What you need to pay attention to are your mistakes, because they reveal your general English problems.

Listen to this recording of me getting a student to do some active listening - it's about 30 seconds long.


For example, the girl in the recording above wanted to say "less than 10% person who was asked" instead of "less than 10% of people who were asked".  I think you'll agree that this reveals some general English problems, and for this student, it's a fantastic opportunity to learn.

Active reading is different to ordinary reading in that the purpose is different.  Normally when you read, you’re doing so out of interest or because you need some information.  In active reading the purpose is to learn correct vocabulary, grammar, and structures.

The reason this is such a good exercise is that you’re turning a passive skill – reading [or listening] – into an active one, namely  speaking.  An even better exercise would be to write the sentence down, so there’s no doubt about whether you made any mistakes or not.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

If you're serious about succeeding in IELTS, you'll do some active reading every day.

That’s all for today.

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Khoi Nguyen
7 years ago

Thanks for your useful advice, Tony.

7 years ago
Reply to  Khoi Nguyen

You’re welcome, Khoi.