How to Improve English Reading Skills | EFL

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Learning English requires the use of four separate skills.

The four skills in learning a language.

People generally learn these four English Language skills in the following order.

Listening skill. When people are learning a new language they will first hear it spoken. Like a newborn baby to the learning of a language, they will spend the first lessons listening and speaking

Speaking skill. After they have listened to keywords and phrases they try to repeat what they hear

Reading skill. Later they will learn the reading skill which is the visual representation of any language. And this is the one we will be covering today.

Writing skill. And the last and the hardest skill is the writing skill. All the previous skills should be quite well-developed, however, the sooner you introduce this skill the better.

The five Components of Reading skills.

The 5 reading abilities are an excellent resource for showing teachers how to teach the reading skill, and what points should be covered. If you employ these five essential components of reading in your lessons your pupils will have a strong foundation for success in reading.

Reading Fluency

People can be fluent in reading just like they can be fluent in a language. When you read fluently, you can do so quickly, easily, and accurately.

When your reading flows naturally, exactly like it does when you’re conversing.

Some people believe that reading fluency just means reading quickly. There’s a lot more to it than that.

Reading fluency is made up of four primary components that work together to provide a rewarding reading experience.

Speed of Reading

The first aspect of reading fluency is the rate, or speed, at which students read. Students should read at a good rate because slow and laborious reading slows comprehension.

However, you don’t want students to be solely concerned with how rapidly they can read the content. It’s a delicate balancing act. A higher rate of reading fluency increases comprehension and flow.


The number of words you read properly is a factor in reading fluency. It’s critical to teach pupils to self-correct when reading so that they can understand what they’re reading.

Tell them to go back and try again if they read a word that doesn’t make sense. Help them focus on looking at the word they’re reading and making sure they’re reading it correctly, rather than on getting through as many words as possible.


When you read, prosody refers to the emotion and expression you employ. It entails easily reading phrases with inflection. Intonation refers to the pitch of your voice as it rises and falls.

For some pupils, this is the most difficult goal to achieve. Demonstrate how a learner should read by reading a passage robotically or without intonation, then reading it again with stress and tone.

Ask the students which they find the best and easiest to understand. It is important to understand the pitch and intonation of reading as well as speaking as it shows the listener when the end of the sentence has arrived.


Comprehension is another aspect of reading fluency that many people overlook. Although comprehension is a distinct reading skill, it is also an important component of reading fluency.

Reading quickly and accurately isn’t enough, as we discussed earlier. To be fully fluent, students must comprehend what they are reading.

When someone speaks a language fluently, they don’t just say a bunch of random words. They know what they’re saying and are having a rational discussion.

The same can be said of reading fluency. To read fluently, students must comprehend and consider what they are reading.


Phonics is the process of associating sounds to written letters and then using those sounds to create words. It is the process of decoding words by listening to the sounds that each letter makes.

Essentially, it involves looking at the letters, saying the sounds they create, and deducing the word from those letters and sounds. This is referred to as “sounding out words” by many.

At its simplest it is like saying A, apple; B banana; what sound does the A have in apple and what sound does the B have in banana.

Students are given reading tools through phonics teaching that will give them abilities they can use if they come across a word they don’t recognize. They can sound out a word phonetically if taught some basic information. For example, what sound does “Qu” make, yes it sounds like “Kwa”

Students will always come across big, fresh, unknown words in their learning journey. Reading textbooks and academic content will be a tremendous task for them if they are struggling with each new or unfamiliar word.

On the contrary, if your students have the phonics methods they need to decipher words, they will not be intimidated by whatever word their education throws at them. By providing children the ability to decode every word they come across, you are empowering them!

Phonemic Awareness

Being able to listen to and hear the sounds of words is known as phonemic awareness. This talent excludes the use of letters and written words. It’s merely about being able to hear and listen to sounds. There is no decoding involved


The fifth of the 5 Reading Skills that you should include in your reading education is vocabulary

Vocabulary is the ability of students to engage with words and understand what they mean and imply.

There are two types of vocabulary: receptive (words heard and read) and expressive (words spoken) Both are equally important.

Receptive vocabulary is typically learned first, followed by expressive vocabulary, because it is easier to recognize words than it is to produce them.


The goal we want our students to reach is reading comprehension. We read in order to comprehend and learn. Every other reading skill (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and vocabulary) is aimed at assisting us in reading words and comprehending their meaning.

Fostering a love of reading is one of the most effective ways to increase reading comprehension. Show kids how to love reading by allowing them to immerse themselves in the stories or learn new facts.

Make reading enjoyable for your students by reading aloud to them and then having discussions about what they’ve read. Encourage them to discuss what they read as they read independently.

Ask Questions.

It’s essential to offer students comprehension questions during and after they read, as well as merely talk with them about what they read, whether they’re performing individual or group reading tasks.

When you ask students questions regarding the text and they don’t know the answer, assist them in going back to the text to find it. Referring to the text is an important skill that will help students improve their reading comprehension and read with intention.


When you teach any of these skills it needs the involvement of the other skills as well. Try to make a lesson that incorporates the use of the whole range of skills. Being aware of the learning process is what will help you in your ESL or EFL teaching.

Go back to my posts about listening, speaking, and writing and choose what works best for you. There are a lot of tools online and websites you can visit that will help you prepare for your classroom or online teaching time.

You can find a lot of free resources that will help in my post

Top 10 Websites for the ESL teacher

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL for over 15 years and have my own school. I also place teachers across Vietnam into both private and public schools. I am also the author and owner of this website. You can look at my school in Vietnam prior to reopening below.

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