Improve your reading comprehension in 5 steps

Read Original Version (CLB5+) You are reading the Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

Benefits of reading

  • Improve your vocabulary and get used to sentence patterns. You also develop your other language skills.
  • It exercises the brain so it increases your brain power.
  • It helps you focus and strengthen your memory.

Tips to improve your reading comprehension:

  1. Choose reading materials that are interesting to you

    Read something that motivates and excites you. Read magazines, short stories, novels, poems, graphic novels, even comics. Ask your librarian to suggest reading materials.

  2. Start at your level

    You will be bored if you read something below your level and frustrated if it’s higher than your level. Check your IELTS score or go to WELARC to know your CLB. Ask your ESL teacher for reading suggestions for your level or check the sites below:

    • Livelearn – Learn English while learning about Manitoba. Articles are for 5+ and CLB 3-4 translations.
    • CCMD Language and Reading Companion – College-level text for reading and listening.
    • Many – Click “Reading” on the top menu. Choose the theme and click on the articles. Each article has an audio version in different speeds.
    • 5 Minute English – Reading Lessons have exercises to boost your comprehension.
    • Canadian International – The learning levels are beginner, intermediate (low and high) and advanced. It has a Business English section for learning conversation used in the workplace.
    • BBC Learning English 6-Minute English – Features short reading materials and dialogues. It also has language exercises for Intermediate Level.
    • Book suggestions for intermediate to advanced learners (from EngVid): Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, Fallen by David Maine, and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
  3. Make it a habit

    Read every day. Set a few minutes to focus and read. This will also help you relax. Do this on your break or at the end of the day.

  4. Use the KWL method

    KWL stands for Know (what you already know), What (what do you want to know), and Learned (what did you learn?). Know more about this method from this video:
    Improve your reading skills from Learn English with Emma EngVid):

    Improve your reading skills, Learn English with Emma, EngVid

  5. Use the dictionary

    Get a pencil and notebook when you’re reading. Write down words you do not know. Remember the page number where you found the word. Get the meaning of the word then read the sentence again.

    Get an e-reader like Kindle and download pop-up dictionary apps if you don’t like taking notes. Google Quick Dictionary or U-Dictionary are free to download. Click or copy difficult words and look for their meaning. Save the words to review.

Article updated October 26, 2021.

Sources: How to improve reading comprehension: 8 expert tips, Courtney Montgomery, PrepScholar; What does reading do to your brain? These 5 effects are pretty astounding, Sadie Trombetta, Bustle; and Improve your English through reading, Josef Essberger, English Club. Accessed December 3, 2018.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Fall Recipes – Based on Food Idioms

Baskets full of pumpkins and squash.

Workplace Communication Idioms

Article thumbnail fallback

Study the PowerPoint slides to learn these idioms in context.

English Reductions Part 2

Article thumbnail fallback

Simple Sentences

Article thumbnail fallback

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.