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How to use articles to expand your English.

This short post looks at how we can use articles effectively to expand on your English.

Which article should I choose?

Focus on topics that are of personal interest to you or are about a topic that you need to develop, say, because of your job. The article should be well written, and of a length that means that you can read the whole article in one go. I personally find The Conversation, The Guardian, or The Independent all offer an enormous amount of well written articles on literally any topic.

How can I learn vocabulary from the article?

Read through the article once, marking any words, expressions or phrases in it that you need to translate - copying the article into a word document helps with this process. Then translate them and re-read the article so that you are reading it in a form where you can understand everything that is written.

Look again over the words that you have translated, and think about how useful they would be in your own language - some articles use quite abstract language that even in your native language would obviously not be commonly used. With the vocabulary that does look useful, you need to look what linked words are with the word - if it is a noun, what verb is being used with it? (i.e., if the word was "contract", then it will almost always be used with a verb like "sign" or "break"), or is there a connected preposition or is it part of a phrasal verb (if you translated the word "depend" then it is most likely in a sentence with it's preposition "on") - learning words with their connected words is called 'chunking' and is much more efficient than just learning words alone.

How can I learn grammar from an article?

When I read articles in German I would keep an eye out for sentences with grammatical structures in them that I know that I would find difficult to create myself. I would then try to work out what they were and why they were being used - of course, simply asking me would be the easiest way of understanding the grammar and whether it is a grammatical structure that is 'essential' (i.e. we have to know it) or whether it is simply another way of expressing something - so if you are reading something as preparation for a lesson then make a note of any questions you would have about grammar.

How can I use an article to improve my speaking skills?

Articles make brilliant basis's for speaking lessons, and talking about an article is a great way of building fluency on that particular topic. Whilst reading an article ask yourself the following questions; 1) What is the article about? 2) How can the article be summarised? 3) Does the article have an obvious conclusion? 4) What did you read in the article that you didn't know previously? 5) Is there anything in the article that you don't agree with, what is it and why?

So, there are a couple of tips for making the most out of reading in English, if you have any questions that just let me know.


Joel White

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