Can i improve my english by reading books?

lo drac dins lo bòsc   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 10:54 GMT
Hello everybody!
I'd like to improve my english since I haven't had the opportunity to practice it since the college (now i'm 23).I understand very well written english, the news on BBC too (CNN and the US news are most more difficult to understand), I can read any book, but I'd like to speak and write more fluently. I'm studying spanish, I know by latin american friends that I've got a good nivel (some believe I'm chilean, why chilean? i don't know), so i think it's possible to reach the same level in english, the only difficulty is that i cannot practice with english speakers since i don't know any.But maybe by reading and reading again I will succeed, no?
Boy   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 11:20 GMT
I share you a real thing that just happened with me yesterday. My friends and I were waiting at a stop for a bus, a girl of my age, 16 or 17 came to me and she asked me in fluent English about a specific address and which bus would go there. I understood every word of her English effortlessly. Now it was a real exam of my English skills in a real life situation. I never had a chance to practice with someone who knew English well. I hardly speak English but I do READING and LOOK UP words daily. You know what, I had a hard time to tell her the exact address and the bus number but I explained it, though. I took some time to speak my sentences and in mean while that girl was staring at me with strange eyes as she did not like my way of speaking. Anyway, I tried to give her the answer in English. I just simply don't understand why it is so difficult to speak even one's brain has enough inputs in order to explain atleast PLACE address. Someone does not need to acquire a million English sentences to speak two or three sentences, do they?

What I personally understand is, If you want to speak, then you adopt a habbit of speaking all the time so speaking in the real situation won't look strange to you. I'm not sure just reading and reading is enough to speak the language fluently. I feel so sad when I put time and effort in learning and it does not pay off in the real life.
Ruth   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 16:54 GMT
I think that reading books is very well but speaking english enable you to get fluency in your communication with sounds. If you spend your time only reading english books your mind will get to use to understand only read english.

It's very important not only to read books, but write sentences and speaking it, not matter if you are alone in home. It's a good idea if you install a software which let you listen an english document to understand the pronunciation of each word. Repeat each pronunciation and apply it in you conversation with your self.

If you follow my advice you'll note that your english is getting the fluency you was looking for.
Lavoisel   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 21:38 GMT
Hi, Lo Drac Dins Lo Bòsc! (Vincent?)

Given that English is far from phonetic, reading books will only inform you of the existence of some words and some phrases, but you will not know how to pronounce them. A more sonorous alternative would be to buy a lot of DVD and try to gradually stop relying on the subtitles, but it is not the most affordable one.
Thus, if you enjoy reading a lot and think that you really should take this means into consideration, I hotly recommand that you try audiobooks.
My favourite English audiobooks publisher is Penguin Readers because the variety of English, the number of words and the English level of the stories they sell is always specified, so that you can easily buy the work that suits you best. You can purchase books on their website.

Bonne chance ;-)
Someone   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 22:26 GMT
"I share you a real thing that just happened with me yesterday."

Sentences like this are part of your problem. It is really annoying to many English speakers. Say something like "I'll share a real thing with you that happened to me yesterday."
mjd   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 22:38 GMT

This site is dedicated to people who are learning English. Instead of telling people they're annoying, why not try to help them (I'm not annoyed by students' mistakes).

You suggested that Boy should have written: "I'll share a real thing with you that happened to me yesterday."

I think "exprerience" would sound better than "real thing."
Someone   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 23:16 GMT
Maybe, but I was trying to stay as close to the original sentence as possible. I wasn't saying that I thought he was annoying. The girl he mentioned was annoyed at his speech, so I pointed out a possible reason.
Someone   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 23:18 GMT
I realize that "so" shouldn't be used in manner that I just used it in, as well.
Boy   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 03:09 GMT

Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciated your help. I wrote sentence like that cause my first language also have a big impact on my thoughts processing. It occurs naturally. It won't go away that easy. As for that girl, she was annoyed cause I took my time to speak my sentences and maybe she was having a idea like I'd tell her wrong address cause I was taking some time. After all I was a stranger to her. I just read her facial expression and I got that sort of idea.
Tom   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 05:42 GMT

It's completely okay to speak slowly about an unfamiliar subject. Don't worry -- books usually don't describe mundane things like asking for directions, so it's no wonder you had difficulties. I just came back from the US, where I had problems saying what I wanted to say on a couple occasions (e.g. ordering food, making a reservation at a motel, asking for things in the kitchen). There are limits to what you can learn without leaving your country. The best you can do at home is watch movies and sitcoms in English and watch for everyday vocabulary.
Someone   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 08:15 GMT
I agree that it is difficult to speak in foreign languages. For example, writing or speaking in Spanish is much more difficult for me than it is in English.

I'm going to point out some minor mistakes in your grammar. I'm not going to bother with commas, by the way. Is that okay? I'll show the changes in parentheses.

"I wrote sentence like that cause my first language also have a big impact on my thoughts processing."

I wrote (the) sentence like that ('cause) my first language also (has) a big impact on my (thought) processing.

"As for that girl, she was annoyed cause I took my time to speak my sentences and maybe she was having a idea like I'd tell her wrong address cause I was taking some time."

As for that girl, she was annoyed ('cause) I took my time to speak my sentences and maybe she (thought) I'd tell her (the) wrong address ('cause) I was taking some time.

There. Those are the only obvious mistakes that I see.
lo drac dins lo bòsc   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 13:47 GMT
Thanks to everybody for your messages.
Lavoisel, as rason mon amic: soi lo Vincent.
I think the Penguin audio-book alternative is the best one.Of course it would be better if I had some english-speaker friends to speak with, but who knows...
Pentatonic   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 16:13 GMT
My two-cents worth: reading books will help your vocabulary, grammar, and reading and writing skills. Audiobooks will help your vocabulary and comprehension. But if you want to be able to hold a conversation, you're going to have to practice that, whether you can find a partner or not.

Make up dialogs for common situations you might find yourself in and practice them: general greetings and niceties, visiting someone and being visited, giving and asking for directions, etc. Conversation requires you to be active and unlike writing, you have limited time in which to reply. It takes practice.

One way to use audiobooks to help your active speech would be to repeat what the narrator says. You can even try to answer what is said if the situation is right or make comments with your opinion. But make sure you do it aloud just as you would in a real conversation.
paul   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 17:44 GMT
I will tell you a couple of tricks.
The key to communicating in a foreign language, is listening and watching the listener. Saying the right word is only a quarter of communication.
Many times you can make a guesture or point to answer someones question. Many times the listener can be encouraged to provide a missing word.

First, you need time to figure out what they said and translate your answer in your mind.
So automatically repeat the last word that you comprehended.
Or even just the last word that you heard.

Someone asks, "where is the bathroom?"
You look at them and say "... bathroom?"
They say, "y'know, the restroom"
Say "Oh, The Restroom over there" and point

Someone asks, "when does the store open?
You look at them and say "... open?"
They say, "y'know, the store."
Say "Oh, the store [point] open 6 o'clock"

Someone asks, "what time, is it?"
You look at them and say "... time?"
They say, "yes, the time."
Say "Oh, the time ... 6 o'clock" or show them your watch.

How far is it to the city center (Downtown).
... center?
They say, "y'know, Downtown."
Say "Oh, Downtown is that way" and point.
They say, "but, how far?"
You say, "Not far" or "very far"
They say, "how long does it take to drive to downtown?"
Every sentence gives you more information

You initiate a conversation and keep it going, they will communicate
many of the words that you will need. Listen. Don't assume anything.

If you are totally lost and don't know what to say, "I don't know, ask him" and point to another helpful person. Follow them over and tell the next person what the English person wants.

Regards, Paul V.
Boy   Thursday, May 06, 2004, 10:02 GMT
Paul V,

Thanks for your useful tricks. I'll apply them practically.


I agree with you. For that matter, me and my friends has recently bought a DVD player and a CD-writer together. We try to listen to "shaggy dog" stories over and over again on our DVD player. But one thing I don't understand why some "Phonetic Transcription" files are not working. We loaded them for learning the pronunciation of words. [@] files are working on the DVD player but some are not like consonant and vowels. Did you add all of them in mp3 format at your website?

We could hear your that file easily "David copper field kind of crap" on the DVD player.

We loaded some files from this site: (i.e Audioarchives) But they are quite hard to understand for my friends. If anyone knows any easy to listen mp3 files. Please let me know.
Mostly if they are related to learning English coversations, will be much appreciated.