Hello Laura, tell us a little about yourself.
Sure! I started working at What’s Up! in May 2013 as a coach. I learnt a lot during the time I was teaching my wonderful students! A year and a half ago I joined the What’s Up Content Development team. We are working on some new materials and classes. My relationship with books has always been wonderful. I studied Humanities at University and I’ve been working in many publishing aspects for quite a long time now. I just ADORE pages with words.
How can reading help our students to improve their English skills?
Reading has always been a key part of any language learning process. It can be challenging for those students that feel insecure about their skills, but at the same time it’s a marvelous experience that can make grow your spirit and your English.
Any tips for those who may be hesitating?
Sure! Here are my rules to enjoy reading in English: 1) If you don’t understand everything, relax! It’s perfectly normal. Part of the process is to know that not understanding everything is fine. Try to take in the action as a whole and forget that tricky word that doesn’t make sense. 2) Never force yourself to read. If you are not feeling it, you don’t like the book or you are very tired, don’t read. Reading (in English or Spanish or Russian!) should never be an obligation. And 3) Pick wisely! If you don’t like romantic books, don’t buy it just because it’s on sale or looks interesting. Choose a book that you feel will be of your taste.
How often do you recommend reading in English?
It is going to depend on the book and the reader: Sometimes you can’t take your eyes off the pages and others the book starts collecting dust at the top of a shelf. Ideally, you should find a nice moment, beautiful light, a warm blanket, a hot cup of tea and read twice a week for an hour. But it’s not always that simple. Any stolen moment could work as long as you try to enjoy and learn through your reading time.
Which of your favorite books (for intermediate level) can you recommend us?
As a teenager I was quite brave and even when my English level wasn’t where it is now, I would grab a Young Adult novel in English and start reading by just following my three tips: Carry on reading, feel it, and choose carefully. If you think you have what it takes, one of my latest reads has been To all the boys I’ve loved before, by Jenny Han. An easy, fun, cheesy story an intermediate student will enjoy. If you are not that fearless, you can always try some adapted novels, like Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding or One Day, by David Nichols, both published by MacMillan readers. Short novels like The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne or The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime by Mark Haddon are also very captivating.
What other resources do you recommend to our students to improve the English comprehension?
Honestly, any little action can help: reading shampoo labels, online news, your phone set in English, short stories, fashion blogs, sports gossip, dictionaries… Anything as long as you try to make English part of your life. My last piece of wisdom: Keep it up, and don’t forget that learning English should be fun and rewarding. And, as I always say: Fake it until you make it.
Thank you very much Laura!