When you decide to start learning a new language, an efficient and reliable method to increase your foreign vocabulary and improve your pronunciation quickly, is reading. If you follow these 3 easy tips, it should not be a tiring and boring activity.
1. A very good dictionary is your best friend
I bet you know which is the easiest way to build up your vocabulary day after day: looking up words in a dictionary. Nonetheless, we need a good vocabulary. Because I need to make more effort, I prefer a printed version dictionary. Of course, it is up to you. I suggest you buy one from the best publishing houses in languages field such as Oxford, Zanicchelli (for Italian), Cambridge, Real Academia Espanola (for Spanish), La Rousse (for French). Etc. About online version, I like Word Reference.
Afterwards, you can start to read a text and circle the unknown words, looking up them in your good and reliable dictionary, writing down their meanings.
Apparently, it is a simple and classical technique, but it should help you to create your own personal dictionary. In order to always have it with you, it is important to have a pocket notebook with all those words. You won’t carry hundreds of huge books with you, right? It can even be a virtual notebook through your mobile or tablet.
2. Two books are better than one
A super worthy strategy is applying the so-called comparative reading: a book in its original language and its translation in your language. In your hands, at the same time.
You don’t only do that for reading sake but also to take some notes. Please do not focus on the unknown word itself but underlining expressions, idioms, slangs and other sentence patterns is the key. Of course, as I wrote previously, keep writing down in your virtual/paper notebook.
You can even buy a bilingual book. It is easier than having two, heavy, books in your hands. Or reading comics. Every day, you can spend a little time to read your favourite strips, in the language you are learning and compared to yours.
3. Listening & Reading
Listening skill can help your reading ability a lot. You can still call comparative reading, but you compare your book to its audio version. Please do not underestimate this strategy: is there anything better than listening to a native speaker while you follow him/her through reading?
It is just a matter of time, and you will get used it. At the beginning, it seems difficult and to not get the point. But, after some months, your reading skills will improve because you will realize that your pronunciation is not quite right or one word can be pronounced in different ways.
You do not need to start with a very complicated novel. Listening and reading a poem can be the first step. More than enough.
This strategy can also be applied when you have to read boring and long books require by your school or university.