Sometimes, there is nothing better than curling up with a good book. And if that book happens to be in your target language, well, that’s a bonus! Reading is one of the best ways we can absorb new language and become familiar with how the words fit together. And let’s face it, if you’re doing that while reading a great story, it won’t feel like much work at all! So let’s take a look at some of the best books to read, to help you learn English.
The Oxford Elementary Learner’s Dictionary of English is a great dictionary designed specifically with learners of English in mind. Aimed at lower-level learners, this dictionary gives simple explanations for more than 19,000 words, phrases, and meanings, while identifying the most important 2000 words for students to prioritise. There are additional notes that give guidance on building vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and even spelling. This is a great first dictionary to have for learning English with a clean, simple layout that won’t make you feel overwhelmed. Definitely a must-purchase for your English adventures!
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Practical English Usage is the absolute best grammar guide you could ask for when learning English. This is a favourite book of many an English teacher, so you know it must be good! You can search for individual grammar points to practice with which give detailed explanations along with activities to check your understanding, or work from cover to cover to ensure a thorough grammar knowledge by the end. And while the focus is predominantly on British English there are good explanations for differences between American and British grammar. Practical English Usage is the most up to date, easy to use grammar guide and an essential for any English language learner.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Let’s move on to some fun books instead of practical ones!
The Hunger Games is a great place to start with as an English novel for practicing the language. Not only is it a trilogy, meaning you have a lot of material to work through, but the books were made into films, so you can get a rough idea of what to expect before actually reading. Katniss is our protagonist, a teenager who lives in District 12 in a dystopian future that in places is scarily similar to our world today. Each District has to give two child tributes each year, who then must compete in a public arena to the death. This is a televised event celebrated by the Capitol, whose leaders are vindictive, self-serving people reminiscent of some of our politicians! The Hunger Games is a Young Adult story that is simply told, horrific in places, and an absolute page-turner.
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
Our next suggestion is a children’s book that is beloved by many across the world. The Giving Tree tells the story of a boy and his relationship with an apple tree as he ages. At first he loves the tree for climbing and the apples she provides, but as he gets older he loses interest and all but abandons her. This is a story about giving and is considered a very divisive book for accusations of sexism and predatory behaviour. Though taken at face value as a tool for learning English, The Giving Tree is a great resource; perhaps once you are more confident with your English skills you can come back to address those meanings!
Of Mice of Men, by John Steinbeck
Our final suggestion of book is one that you will likely have heard of already. Of Mice of Men is an American classic that is perfect if you want a short read and a bit of history at the same time. There is also a film, so if you want to watch first to know what you are getting yourself into, then you can! Of Mice and Men follows the lives of George Milton and Lennie Small, two misplaced migrant workers who make a living moving from ranch to ranch across California during the Great Depression. The language is simple to read, yet you will realise if you watch the film that it is quite strongly accented—something you don’t have to worry too much about on the page! Of Mice of Men is a great read that has been studied in schools across America and the UK, so you will probably find many a willing listener to discuss the book with!
Whatever book you are practicing your English with, happy reading! And if you’d like a little guidance with your English before you start reading, we are here to help! Our tailormade courses are designed specifically with you in mind, whatever your schedule or needs. Why not drop us a quick inquiry to find out more about what we offer.