Reading in English Can Be a Piece of Cake
Reading in English Can Be a Piece of Cake
  • Elisa Sinn
  • 승인 2012.10.17 17:27
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I know how hard it is to find time to read a book for your own pleasure while school is in session. Students are often overwhelmed with textbooks and assignments and will think, “I don’t have time for this. I should be reading my textbooks or doing homework instead.” I’ve been there and thought the same. The truth is, however, students (including me when I was in university) still find time to surf the web, play online games, do their nails, go shopping, or watch TV. Students do plenty other stuff but can’t find time to read.
But there is a solution to this. Students can still read for fun and not feel guilty about it. The solution is to read in English! I know it doesn’t sound exciting at all. I can almost hear some - okay, many - students booing at this idea. But reading in English is not as difficult or boring as most students might think. For those of you who are not too discouraged about this idea and dare to read on, I’ll offer a tip on how to get started.
Fortunately for POSTECH members, there is a library of English books on campus. The POSTECH English Library is conveniently located on the fourth floor of Hogil Kim Memorial Hall (Mueunjae) and open from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. Monday through Friday. The library has quite a nice selection of books for all reading levels in two large categories: graded readers and authentic texts. Graded readers are mostly classics and famous novels edited or recreated for non-native speakers of English. Some of the familiar titles include A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Little Women by Louisa Alcott, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Last Leaf by O. Henry, and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. There are seven levels of graded readers, so I’m confident that any POSTECH member will find the right level. Authentic texts are works published for native speakers of English. But don’t be scared. Native speakers include preschoolers and elementary school students, and books written for them are easy to read and fun enough for even adult readers with limited English proficiency. For advanced readers, there are also a good number of works by bestselling authors, such as Malcolm Gladwell (Blink), Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie), Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), Haruki Murakami (1Q84), and Alain De Botton (Status Anxiety). For those of you who are into fantasy novels, the library also has the entire series of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hunger Games. The library is open to all POSTECH members. With the generous borrowing period of three weeks and unlimited extensions, it’s a benefit too good to miss. Postechians who want to improve their English reading skills and quench their thirst for literature at the same time should take advantage of the library.
A non-native speakers of English should start with a book that is slightly easier than his/her reading level. The best way to find out if a book is right for you is to read a random page and count the number of words you do not know. If it’s only a handful and you have no trouble understanding the page without consulting a dictionary, it is the right level for you. Reading a book, whether in English or in Korean, should be entertaining for anyone to make a habit of it. Therefore, choose a book with a subject that interests you. If you need to stop too often to look up words in a dictionary, you will lose interest and confidence and end up giving up reading. Another way to find the right level is using the lexile level of the book. Many books at the English Library have a lexile level specified on the first page. If you have taken the reading assessment test called SRI in one of your English classes, use your score to find the suitable level. However, all graded readers and many authentic texts for adults do not have a lexile level specified.
An excellent way to improve your English skills is of course to read a lot. Reading many easy books is much better than reading a few difficult books. I personally recommend reading aloud as much as possible. It helped me identify the words I have trouble pronouncing and spontaneously become accustomed to grammatical structures of English.
During the Spring semester and the Summer session of this year, a total of 333 students borrowed a total of 1,046 books from the English Library. Most of them borrowed books to do assignments for their English classes. However, some of those students continue to come back even after their class is over to check out books. I hope more and more Postechians will come to the English Library on their own - not because of their class assignments - and find out that reading a book in English can be easy and entertaining and does not take too much of their time. With a little effort and a lot of fun, it’s really a piece of cake.