Read A Lot!
Q: How much should I read?
A: A lot!
Q: How much exactly?
A: It is up to you but please consider this:
You should think about what you really need to do to learn English.
We know that a student needs to experience words many times before they can USE them. By using them, I mean use them in their speech or writing. This is simply because we forget words after we hear them for only the first or second time. We may even have to hear new words 10 times before we start to use them!
A helpful example:
If a learner…
-has a vocabulary of 1000 words, (Lower-Intermediate speaker)
-each of these 1000 words is seen in every 10,000-15,000 running words of a book [Nation, 1998*]
-the memory of a new word lasts for about one week
-this learner needs to read 10,000-15,000 words per week
-about 40-60 pages at 250 words per page—or about one half to one graded reading book a week.
Let’s look at this situation in a very simple way.
The Pre-Intermediate student should read at least one-half of a graded reading book per week.
An Intermediate student should read at least one graded reading book per week.
An Upper-Intermediate student should read at least two books per week.
An Advanced student should read at least three graded readers per week.
Q: Why do I have to read more as I progress?
A: The more words you are introduced to, the more words you have to make your friends, in other words, repeat them by reading them—so you can use them.
Of course, these are only guidelines. A keen student should read as much as possible. If an Intermediate student reads three books a week, he or she will not be an Intermediate student for very long…!
*(Nation, Paul, ‘The Language Learning Benefits of Extensive Reading,’ 1998.)