Real-life reading resources for language learners

newspaperWhen it comes to learning a language, your textbook isn’t the only reading resource you should be relying on.

For most second language learners, the textbook is your main resource for new words, grammar, and cultural information. While textbooks can be a valuable resource to explain grammar and cultural background of a language, they don’t give you the most up-to-date, authentic language native speakers really use.

Instead, check out some every day reading resources available to you. If you are not surrounded by the target language where you live, you can find it in online newspapers, on websites for medical services in a country where the language is spoken, or through social media groups made up of speakers of the target language.

 

Here are some easy tips for using reading resources you encounter every day to enhance your language learning:

FOR NOVICE LEARNERS:

Your local newspaper:

  • Find city names and new words about climate and weather in the local and national weather report section.
  • Find new activity names and action words on the events page.
  • Read ad inserts to find new words for foods or household items. The pictures will help you remember the names!

Forms from your doctor’s or dentist’s office:

  • New patient forms use many important terms needed for daily life: name, address, phone number, employer, insurance, co-pay, etc.
  • Highlight vocabulary you don’t know yet: hypertension, diabetes, supplement. Then use your dictionary to define the new words.

Emails and memos from work or your child’s school:

  • Find the most important information: date of a meeting, tasks to complete, deadlines, answers to your questions.

FOR INTERMEDIATE LEARNERS:

Your local newspaper:

  • Read an article on a current event or news story of interest. Find the main ideas and key points and define new words.
  • At your next lesson, summarize the article for your teacher, using the new words. Ask for feedback on your use of the new words and phrases.

Pamphlets from the doctor’s office:

  • Go early for your appointment and look at available pamphlets. Read any that are relevant to your condition or need
  • Ask your doctor questions: “Are there alternative treatments for…?” or “Are there lifestyle changes I could make that would affect…?”

Work Correspondence and Industry Journals:

  • Read colleague’s responses on group emails. Note new words or structures. Model your responses on native speaker responses, using the new words in your response.
  • Read and take notes on journal articles in your field. Follow group discussions for your industry on professional social media platforms like LinkedIn. Talk about them at work.

FOR ADVANCED LEARNERS:

Your local newspaper:

  • Read editorials on current political, economic, and world affairs. Write your opinions in a notebook. Discuss with friends live or via social media.
  • Find apartments or housing listings. Notice how room measurements are presented. Do the measurements and words used to describe residences look similar or different from those used in your native language? What do these differences tell you about your new location and the housing there?

Information from the doctor’s office:

  • Read your detailed physical examination report. Note new terms and abbreviations. Look up two possible treatment paths for your situation (traditional vs. alternative). Ask your doctor specific questions about each path and to explain his or her recommended course of treatment.

Work Correspondence and Industry-Specific Articles:

  • Read a popular and an academic article on a topic in your field. Note any new words and structures. Pay attention to tone and level of formality. Note which words make a difference in formality.
  • Apply your findings to prepare your own opinion or proposal to two audiences: peers in your team and an executive steering committee or board of directors. Talk to your teacher about the differences in your two supporting emails or presentations.

There are so many ways to find opportunities to practice your new language using real-life reading resources. We hope this guide reminds you to explore the wide variety of authentic language resources available all around you when learning a new language.

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