Who doesn’t love to get lost in a story?
With great books you can explore magical worlds, travel backwards or forwards in time or simply see the world from another person’s perspective.
…But only if you understand the words on the page.
If you’re anxious to start reading real English stories, you need to get some strong beginner English reading practice first.
That’s what we have for you here.
We’ve collected our five favorite English reading practice tools for beginner language learners. They’ll give you exercises, activities and lessons to improve your reading comprehension quickly.
We’ve even included our own short story with questions and answers at the bottom of the article.
Start practicing now and you’ll thank yourself the next time you open an incredible English book!
How Does Reading Help Your English?
Reading is a fun way to learn English, because it doesn’t have to feel like studying. With reading, you can enjoy a story while improving your English along the way.
English stories will help you recognize proper grammar and get used to the rules. If you read enough, you’ll be able to notice when something is written incorrectly, because you’ll be so familiar with the correct structure.
Reading will also improve your conversational English. Stories are typically filled with dialogue, so you’ll see a lot of examples of natural English conversations.
Finally, reading in English is an incredibly useful skill for life in an English-speaking country. The better you can read in English, the more you’ll understand your surroundings. Practice reading in English regularly and you’ll have no trouble understanding notes, signs, emails or academic texts from the English-speaking world.
How to Improve Your Comprehension While You Read
If you begin by trying to read a difficult book like “Moby Dick,” you’ll become frustrated and will likely want to give up because you aren’t seeing any progress.
Instead, start by reading short stories or even just paragraphs of easy text. Once you know that you understand each of those shorter stories you can begin to move on to more difficult texts.
More English reading practice resources like the ones in this article have materials for different levels on their sites, so you can take your time moving through each level. It’s okay to read at a beginner level! You’re still learning and will see a lot of improvement.
When you come across difficult words, always try to understand using context before pulling out the dictionary. This will force you to use your reading comprehension skills.
If you really can’t figure the word out and it seems very important to the story, it’s okay to look it up. Try not to look for every word in a dictionary, though, because if you’re too focused on the individual words you’ll lose track of the story and won’t retain much information.
Use FluentU to improve this crucial part of your English comprehension.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
The Top 5 Interactive English Reading Practice Sites for Beginners
ereadingworksheets is a website with a collection of stories for beginners to practice their English language learning.
This website is great because aside from general reading comprehension practice, you can also target specific reading skills.
For example, if you’re struggling with how to differentiate characters in a story, you can read practice stories that focus on characterization. Other reading exercises focus on the author’s purpose or improving your understanding of figurative language.
This is a great way to focus your practice on the elements you really need to learn or improve. There’s a long list of focus areas so you can practice exactly what you need.
British Council LearnEnglishTeens
This popular English learning resource includes quizzes with reading materials so that you can test your understanding of the texts.
One of the best things about this site is the focus on practical reading. There are reading quizzes for things like posters and thank you notes, so that you can be sure that your practice will come in handy for real-life situations.
Reading is an important skill because it’s so applicable to real life situations, so it can be very helpful to find a site that gives you everyday reading practice.
TOEFL Junior Reading Comprehension Sample Questions
Unlike some of the other pages, TOEFL Junior isn’t an interactive quiz site. Instead, it walks you through some sample questions from the reading section of the TOEFL Junior English proficiency exam.
You can keep track of your answers on your own and then compare them to the answer key. There are three sample questions—the first is the easiest but each question gets a little bit harder, so answer the questions to see what level you’re at.
Although some of the sample questions are a bit more difficult, they include pictures to help you understand. If you feel lost and can’t understand the reading, sometimes looking at a picture will help.
While anyone can benefit from these reading exercises, they’re especially great if you’re planning to take the TOEFL Junior or standard TOEFL exam.
rong-chang ESL Easy Reading
On this site, you can read brief stories on a variety of topics, then complete comprehension activities such as fill-in-the-blanks or sentence building (choose the activities by clicking the links at the bottom of the story).
They also have the option to hear the story read out loud. This way you can use a combination of reading and listening skills to help understand the story and practice your pronunciation.
Sometimes reading a story can be hard, but hearing the words out loud can give you a better idea of what the story is about, so that as you read you’ll understand more.
Khan Academy SAT Reading and Writing Practice
The Khan Academy has sample tests and readings from the SAT, a standardized test that most high school students in the U.S. take before applying to college.
Instead of just reading interesting stories, you’ll practice your academic reading with this site. Khan Academy has a list of videos that walk through sample SAT reading questions with you.
The videos will show you how to understand as much of the reading as possible and how to think through each of your answers. There are videos for different kinds of reading questions that focus on different subjects, such as literature or science.
Practice Your English Reading Now! Short Quiz on a Classic Story
To get started on your English reading practice, read the story below, answer the questions, then keep reading to check your answers at the bottom of the article.
Little Red Riding Hood lived with her mother at the edge of the forest. Her grandmother lived at the other edge of the forest, and every Sunday Little Red Riding Hood would pack a basket of food and go visit her. One Sunday, as Little Red Riding Hood was wandering down the lane, a wolf blocked her way.
The wolf asked Little Red Riding Hood all about where she was going. He then showed her a beautiful field of flowers and headed off. Once Little Red Riding Hood had picked a bountiful bouquet, she finished the walk and entered her grandmother’s house.
Instead of her grandmother, she found the wolf in bed wearing a nightgown and bonnet! Little Red Riding Hood screamed and was lucky to be heard by an old lumberjack who lived down the road. He burst into the house and killed the wolf, saving Little Red Riding Hood.
- Who are the characters in this story?
- What happened in the story?
- Where does this story take place?
Answers to the English Reading Practice Test
- Little Red Riding Hood, her grandmother, the wolf and the lumberjack
- A wolf tried to trick and eat Little Red Riding Hood, but she was saved by the lumberjack.
- In the forest and in the grandmother’s house
What a workout for your reading skills! With these English reading practice tools for beginners, you’re on the fast-track to complete comprehension.
Cailey Johanna is a freelance writer, translator and editor. She writes in English and Spanish and sometimes a mix of the two and is fascinated by language and is eager to learn more languages and help others overcome barriers of language and culture.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.