Understanding Novels by Reading

by Niazul topu
(Dhaka, Bangladesh)


I can read general English, but when I start reading a novel I cannot understand the meaning of many sentences. What is the process of learning to read a novel?

Comments for Understanding Novels by Reading

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Mar 17, 2013
by: Chelsey

As an experienced reading teacher, I hope I can help you with this problem. I think the process of learning to read a novel is a bit different for everyone, but I can give you a few tips to get started.

Let's start with the meaning of the word "read."

To read means "to look at and understand the meaning of written words."

The most helpful thing you can do is to read with a good and simple dictionary at hand. Look up every word or phrase you don't understand. Don't guess words from context. Don't ignore words you don't understand.

You see, each word tells you an idea. When you combine all the ideas together – you get the meaning of the sentence. When you understand all the sentences – you can truly read. You understand the text.

Many teachers make the mistake of telling students to guess word meanings from context. But this method has its consequences:

- You can misunderstand things (for example, you may think that someone said A when he or she actually said B).

- You can make up wrong definitions for words (for example, you may think that a word means A, when it actually means B).

- It can slow you down when studying (it's a lot harder to learn about something when you only get 80% of the meaning!).

Read more about it here:

Building Vocabulary and Some Common Mistakes

And here are a few more tips that can help:

1. Read all kinds of texts including magazines, newspapers, poems, novels, and nonfiction books.

2. Read texts that interest you. You are more likely to understand a story if it is something you are interested in.

3. Choose texts in your reading level. Reading should be fun! Slowly increase your reading level as you become more comfortable with reading English stories.

4. Begin with books written for English language learners or short books that have bilingual texts on each page (texts in English and in your language).

5. Read an English translation of a book that you have already read in your language. You may find it easier to understand this book in English because you already know the story.

6. Join a book club or online forum and discuss the novel as you read. This is a good way to check your understanding. You can also ask questions if you are confused.

7. Keep practicing and do not give up! Learning a new language is not always easy and takes time.

Here are some resources that might help.

Short Stories

ESL E-books

English Short Stories

Tips and Resources

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