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.

If you live in Massachusetts, you don’t even need to visit the library to get a card.  You can get a free eCard from the Boston Public Library.

After you enter your library card number in the app, you can borrow ebooks or audiobooks.  There are also some “Read Along” books (mostly kids’ books) that you can listen to while you read.


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 freebut 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.


On Amazon: 30 Popular Kids’ eBooks for $1 Each

On sale through Friday June 30th30 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.

Reading with your kids is good English practice, and a great thing to do with them.

Now, and after June 30th:  You can also look here for a list of many more free/cheap eBooks on Amazon for children 4 to 8 years old.

Humans of New York – and Other Places

   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. —


Read To Your Kids

  … or read to your grandkids, nieces, nephews, little cousins, dog, – or yourself.

Children’s books are shorter and easier to understand.  They’re really good practice for someone learning English. Reading to a child can help you with:

  • Vocabulary – learn new words
  • Comprehension – better understanding when you read
  • Pronunciation

And – you will learn faster when you use English for something you enjoy.  (It’s really good for your child too!)

   March 2nd was the birthday of the famous children’s author Theodor Geisel – “Dr. Seuss“.


Closed Captioning

   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)
  • Improved vocabulary

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  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…