ISLPR Language Services Blog

Let Lockdown help your English! (Reading Skills)

Posted by on Apr 19, 2021 at 10:26 AM

What Lockdown or Quarantine does to your English:

Help? Yes, but only if you do the right thing!

For people who use English as a second language, the lockdown period can badly affect your English proficiency if you don’t take steps to maintain it.

Regression: The effect can be just as bad as happens to international students who struggle to develop their proficiency, get what they need and then return home for the summer holidays and don’t speak, hear, read or write English for several weeks.  Invariably, when they return to Australia, they find their English has regressed and they have lost a lot of proficiency.

Develop your English while in Lockdown

What to do: Here is some advice on what you can do to maintain your proficiency and go on developing it. We have broken this down into four separate blogs. Today’s blog post is on developing your reading skills.

In general:

  • Use English as much as possible. The most basic principle in language learning is that language is learned through use. The more you use it, the more it will develop.  You must use it, speak it, listen to English speakers, read, and write every day.


  • Again the same basic principle applies: Read, read, read: it doesn’t matter what you read so long as it is interesting and varied and that you read a lot.
  • The more varied what you read is, the greater your experience of the language.
  • It is very important to read as quickly as possible: the biggest problem for most people reading in their second language is that you read too slowly, so you read word by word, you miss the overall meaning, you overload your immediate memory and so you find that you are forgetting what you read.
  • Read quickly so that you read in phrases and sentences and focus on the overall meaning. Don’t look up individual words that you don’t know so long as you get the overall gist.
  • If you can, get an Australian newspaper to read every day (you might have to get it delivered during lockdown) or borrow books to read. It doesn’t matter what you read so long as it is interesting.
  • Everywhere the national newspapers, “The Australian” and “The Weekend Australian”, are available but most towns or suburbs also have local papers.
  • There is a lot to read online as well. Download the free ABC News app and read its releases throughout the day. We’ve also posted a blog with links to free resources to keep you busy during the lockdown.
  • Some newspapers also have their own apps though you may have to subscribe to these and pay fees.
  • There is an infinite amount of material to read online in the form of stories, books (often free), magazine-type articles, news, technical material in every imaginable field, and so on and on. Most people with relatively strong reading proficiency (like teachers looking for teacher registration), don’t just read “easy reading” materials intended for ESL learners but authentic material intended for all readers.
  • Go into the internet and find things of interest, e.g. put a topic you are interested in into Google or any other search engine and you’ll find many things to read.
  • There are many books available for you to download to your computer or smartphone. There are hundreds of free e-books available.  Choose ones you are interested in and read them regularly.
  • Again, the basic principle is to read a lot, read a variety, read quickly and read for text meaning, not just individual word meaning.
  • Maybe once a week read more intensively and look up unknown words but don’t do this too often – focus on more fluent reading. Only occasionally, look up a word for its meaning or its pronunciation.  For Australian English, the best dictionary to use is the Macquarie Dictionary, which is available in several different sizes.

Are you interested in more personalised help with your reading? Now is the perfect time to try out an ISLPR English tutorial! We’ve discounted our tutorial prices for the next few months. We also have a special tutorial package available until 31 December 2021.

Enrolments for our online English course is currently open. This is a 6 week online course that aims to develop your reading and writing skills by focusing on the most common issues we have come across in ESL learners. Spaces are limited and enrolments for our next round close on Friday, 30 July 2021. For more information, click here.