Reading books and listening to audiobooks is an excellent and enjoyable way to improve your English. Did you know that you can borrow eBooks and audiobooks (with thousands of choices) – for free – right on your phone or tablet? All you need is a library card from your local library, and the new Libby app from OverDrive.
Read about Astronaut Ellen Ochoa, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and 7 other inspiring Latinas in the United States. This is part of a series of articles by Google about Latino Cultures in the U.S.
Newsela is a website and app that helps you improve your reading, with interesting articles in many subjects – science, politics, famous people, sports, etc.
There are five different versions of article, with different levels of reading difficulty. Newsela is not just for people learning English, so you should start at the easiest levels of a story and go higher if you are able. You can also take a short quiz about the story. There are hundreds of good articles – all free – but you must create an account and Sign in. Here’s one about emojis.
For Spanish speakers, there are many articles written in Spanish, also with 5 different levels of reading difficulty, so you can read the same story in Spanish and English.
Playaway is a device that is pre-loaded with one audiobook. Listen to the Playaway book while you read the printed book to improve your comprehension, vocabulary and fluency. You can borrowPlayawayfor free at most public libraries.
On sale through Friday June 30th – 30 popular children’s eBooks (ages 3 to 12) for $1 each. They usually cost about $4 to $12. You can download the books to your phone, tablet, or computer, and then read it with the free Kindle app.
Humans of New York is a website, and Facebook page, that has lots of interesting pictures of people – and a very short story about them. Brandon (the publisher) started with pictures and short stories just about people in New York City. But then he started including personal stories from people in other places around the world – such as Pakistan, Iran, India, Vietnam – and some longer stories on subjects such as refugees and people in prison. The latest set of stories is about people in Brazil. Here is an example:
“He fell in love with me the first day he met me. He kept calling me princess. He said we were meant to be together because our feet were the same size. Look how embarrassed he’s getting!” (São Paulo, Brazil)
— Thanks to Pat for suggesting this website. She uses it for reading practice in her English class. —
When you watch a video in English (TV show, movie, YouTube, etc), you can often choose to display the English words at the bottom of your screen – as they are being spoken. This is called closed captioning. Many times you will see “CC” to show where you need to turn it on.
This is different from subtitles which are also used to show the spoken words, but in your own native language. When you are beginning to learn English, using subtitles in your native language can be helpful. It lets you listen to the spoken English pronunciation while you read the translation. This can be especially good for learning English slang and idiom expressions.
But as your English improves, closed captioning – reading the English words while you listen to those words being spoken – can help you more, in many ways including:
Better understanding and remembering of what you read (reading comprehension)
Better understanding and remembering of what you hear (listening comprehension)
Many times, you can stop the video, to listen to something again – a great way to practice.
For example, one new TV show, called Planet Earth, is on the cable station BBC America. They talk slowly and clearly so you really have time to listen and read the closed captions.
A website with many, short, interesting videos is TED.com. For many of the videos, you can display the words in either your own language, or English. Here’s one of their most popular videos. It’s on body language, and how just changing the way you stand can give you more confidence…