You’ve heard about the four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Some might be more important to you than others. Although they’re normally tested separately, the four skills are actually interconnected.

Reading power


So, even if reading English isn’t one of your main needs, it could really help you improve other areas of your language.

Why’s that? Well, when you read, you’re exposed to more sentences per minute than when you watch a TV show. And (unlike TV) you’re in complete control. By stopping and re-reading sections, you can learn new vocabulary and gain awareness of how to use different grammar structures. Pretty awesome, huh?

Don’t miss our 6-week reading log template just for you.


Beyond the book


At Oxford House we always encourage learners to develop self-study skills. To reach your goals it’s essential to find ways to practise English outside the classroom. But when we talk to our students about reading, we often hear the same things…

“I don’t think I’m ready for that”

“Oh, I don’t have time to read books”

“There’s no way I could read a novel in English!”

Remember, ‘reading’ doesn’t have to mean reading books. In this article we’re going to give you a whole host of ideas. With the Christmas holidays approaching, it’s the perfect time to try them out!


1) Messaging

When we send messages via Facebook or Whatsapp we use a different style. Rich in everyday language, messaging is a great way to pick up some more colloquial phrases and common abbreviations.

No contact with other English speakers? No problem! Go to the italki website, find a language partner and start messaging!

2) Linguistic landscapes

9 ideas to kickstart your reading - Linguistic landscapes

Reading can take place anywhere. In a multilingual city like Barcelona, English is prevalent. So, if you’re the kind of person who can’t sit still, get out into the streets and take a look around you. You’ll find signs and notices everywhere.

In fact, there’s a entire area of study dedicated this, called linguistic landscapes.

3) News articles

We’re living in the Information Age and keeping with the news can feel like a full-time job. Why not kill two birds with one stone? By reading English-language media, you can stay up-to-date with the latest events and develop your reading skills at the same time.

With a 10-minute video and transcript for every news story, CNN 10 is the perfect place to begin!

4) Travel articles

Travelling to an English-speaking country can really help build your confidence. But you can make a start even before you take off. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or you’re in need of practical advice to plan your trip, there are some beautiful travel websites out there.

Two of our favourites are Maptia and Lonely Planet – check them out!

5) Ebooks

9 ideas to kickstart your reading - Ebooks

Ebooks are portable, practical and packed with additional features – and most importantly, they are an extremely valuable resource for English language learners.

Apps like iClassics, created by a Barcelona startup, are taking things to the next level. Stunning illustrations and animation bring the stories to life, giving you a truly immersive and interactive reading experience.

6) Reading tools

Stopping to check unknown words can be a real drag! If you need a detailed definition, we recommend using Wordreference. However, if you’re looking for a quick solution, it’s best to download an extension.

Readlang lets you hover over words to see their translations. Then, you can then save your new vocabulary and even create flashcards.

7) Poetry

Poetry can seem intimidating at first, especially in a second language. But thanks to their short and concise style, there are plenty of poems accessible to learners of English. Reading and reciting a poem is a great way to focus on the rhythm and intonation of a language.

Poetry foundation has a vast collection of English language poetry from around the world and each poem is accompanied with audio recording.

8) Comics

Comics (sometimes called graphic novels) aren’t just for kids! There are many different genres of comics available; they’re not all about superheroes. The strong visuals and dynamic dialogues make comics a really engaging reading resource.

The best part? If you have an e-reader, there are loads of comics you can download for free!

9) Books

Hopefully you’ve got lots of new ideas to try out now. Even so, there’s still something very special about settling down with a real book. The way it smells. How it feels in your hands. The sound as you turn the pages…

So, why not make some time for yourself this Christmas and lose yourself in a book? And if you’re stuck for ideas, here are a few suggestions from Bill Gates:


Some resources for you!


Remember, self-study is all about developing new habits. If these activities are going to become a part of your life, they have to be fun. So, think about what you enjoy and see if you can start doing it in English!

An effective way to stay on track is to keep a reading log. This is a place where you make a note of all the reading practice you do each week. Here’s a 6-week reading log template just for you.

Don’t forget – you can also borrow any of the books, graded readers or magazines from the school library. Just choose the one you want, take it to the reception and pay the €5 deposit (which we’ll return to you when you bring the book back).

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

a whole host of (exp): a large number of people or things.

to pick up (pv): to learn a new skill or start a habit without intending to.

to kill two birds with one stone (exp): to achieve two aims at once.

to take off (pv): to leave the ground and begin to fly.

a drag (n): a boring or tiresome person or thing.

to hover over (pv): to remain suspended over someone or something.

to settle down (pv): to sit down and relax for a short while.

to stay on track (exp): to make sure that someone continues to progress properly.


n = noun

exp = expression

pv = phrasal verb

Study English at Oxford House Barcelona

Interested in taking an English course at Oxford House Barcelona? Check all the different English classes we can offer you or contact us for more information.

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