[Corrected: The first program launched on March 14, but now you can join any time].
How many times have you heard somebody tell you, "Reading is good for your English. You should read more?"
Have you actually done it?
Have you actually seen the progress from reading?
If not, then this article is for you.
In this post I'm going to focus on the most frequently asked questions about reading contemporary novels in English. You may also have noticed that, unlike 95% of my other posts, this one is in English, not in Russian, because if you wish to learn how to read a 100-page novel in English, you might start with a 1,000-word article. If you can survive this, it may be OK for you to move into something a bit longer.
So here're 5 most frequently asked questions about reading a novel in English:
Why do I NOT see progress when I read contemporary literature in English?
There are several reasons for this: a) you're reading on your own, so when you have a question there's nobody to ask. After some time it becomes annoying and you quit; b) the book is very difficult; c) the book is too long; d) the book is boring; e) you like the book, but you don't know which words and expressions to write out, you get tired of figuring it out and you just read and see no improvements; f) the book is relatively easy, but there're some things that you don't understand, some cultural concepts.
What should I do to really see progress when I read something in English?
Here're just three suggestions:
First of all, you need to read something that is appropriate to your level. Ideally, you should start with modern-day literature because the language there is easy to understand. Reading classics might be too hard even for the native speaker, so you need to get ready for that. Secondly, read in a group of like-minded people. It's hard to read and not to share what you're reading even in your own language. It's extremely difficult to do that alone when you're learning a new language. Thirdly, write out the words and expressions that you know you will use. This is a big problem for many students, and I've got a solution (see below).
How can I improve my writing when I read?
Reading is a receptive skill, and as such is much easier to learn. Writing, on the other hand, is a productive skill, and if you wish to develop it you need to work a bit harder. One of the ways to do just that is through journaling. I know, it sounds old-fashioned and boring, but with blogs and secure secret journals online you can write any time anywhere, and nobody even has to read what you wrote. Check out journalate as one of the websites/apps to help you improve your writing skills.
What about my mistakes? Who can correct them?
When you join a group of readers, there's usually a facilitator doing all the hard work of planning your sessions and your homework. You may not even get to see this person live, but through step-by-step instructions and guidelines via email you'll get the motivation and then the feedback you need to improve.
There's a disclaimer though. You must understand that mistakes are a part of learning. You can't start walking without falling a few times. And the most effective way to learn to walk is by figuring how to stand up on your own. That's what a good facilitator is for - she'll tell you how what you need to do to stand up on your own. No doubt, she will correct your mistakes, but even more so she will guide you in the direction of learning so you can be autonomous and not need a teacher (that actually should be your ultimate goal).
What about my speaking?
Don't listen to people who tell you that reading a novel has nothing to do with speaking development. One of the best ways to memorize your vocabulary (without raping your brain with endless and thoughtless repetition) is to use it while speaking. How can you do that?
Modern technology allows you to do that without a hitch. Most smart phones already come with recording apps, but if you don't have that available, you can use soundcloud.com to record yourself retelling the content of a chapter or using words in a made-up story. Listening to yourself might be painful at first, but you'll soon get used to it and when you begin to notice your own mistakes, rest assured you're making progress.
Now that you're convinced that reading a novel can bring you great results (but only under certain conditions) I would like to invite you to a Book Club that will start any time that you join and run for 3 months.
Let's go through the questions you might have for me:
What's the book that we'll be reading?
What's the level of the book? Is it for me?
If you could read and understand 95% of this post (not just "the general meaning," but in details) then you'll be able to read A Walk to Remember without any issue. You have to be at least Upper-Intermediate to do that.
The reading will be completed within 12 weeks (3 months), and you'll be reading 1 chapter a week.
What's the format?
All the participants will receive weekly emails with assignments. The assignments will be different from week to week, and each student is encouraged to work on them for at least 45 minutes a day. That's the commitment you'll have to make. You'll be journaling, participating in forum discussions, recording your retelling of the story, participating in chats and live events, and of course there will be small discussion groups with the teacher.
Who is the facilitator?
Elena Mutonono will be facilitating the group. Read more about her.
How will I know which words to write out?
Each participant will receive a reading guide, developed by Elena Mutonono. There will be questions and vocabulary lists based on the content of each chapter in each section of the guide.
How much will this cost?
The program has 2 levels (and 2 prices), it just depends on how much work you're willing to do. See the image below (more information is here), please note that the price is for 1 month, and the program runs for 3 months.
How do I sign up?
Please fill out the form below, and you'll be notified directly about everything that's going on.
Will any information about the club be posted on this blog?
No, the club is a closed group, so nobody other than those who sign up and pay will be receiving any further information about the club.
Thank you and I hope to contact you soon! The registration is ongoing. You sign up and receive your payment information. Once the payment is processed you'll get access to materials, online platform, and your sessions (for the Serious option) will be scheduled.