How to Improve English Comprehension Skills: A Guide for Beginners to Advanced Learners

How to Improve English Comprehension Skills: A Guide for Beginners to Advanced Learners

The following is a guest post.

One of the pillars of learning a new language is comprehension. And if you’re new to the English language, you must be wondering what you can do to improve your comprehension skills.

Whether it’s reading comprehension or English listening skills, you must take the necessary steps to progress your knowledge of the language as much as possible. It might sound like a difficult task, but this article will show you just how easy and accessible the methods and techniques you need truly are.

You’ll be shocked by how much you can improve your English all by yourself.

Why You Need to Improve Comprehension

Again, comprehension is the bedrock of any language. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to understand this article or even have a conversation. You can’t speak if you don’t understand, that’s why it needs to be your highest priority.

Comprehension is a through-line that’s found within many parts of a language; everything from the written form to the spoken form of a language requires comprehension on your part.

That’s why it’s up to you to find the best techniques to improve comprehension and truly master English fluency.

Tips to Improve English Comprehension

Now that you know the importance of comprehension and how it can affect your ability to learn a language properly, you’re probably curious about what you can do to improve it. Luckily, there are many simple and easily-accessible methods to help you bolster your English comprehension.

These methods will cover the entire spectrum of comprehension (from reading to listening). They will also get progressively harder as you go along. Think of each one as a stepping stone to the next.

Learn Vocabulary

Before you can even begin to comprehend full sentences, you must first be able to comprehend individual words. This, above all else, is your first order of business.

Luckily, you’re reading this article, so you’ve already begun the process. You’ve learned enough of the English vocabulary to make sure you’re reading comprehension allows you to understand this article.

Nonetheless, it’s never a bad thing to keep going with it. There are over 170,000 English words out there! Naturally, there’s no way you’ll learn every one of them (most native English speakers won’t), but it just goes to show that there’s always room for improvement.

Read Everyday

Speaking of reading comprehension and developing reading skills!

Once you’ve got a firm grasp on the English vocabulary, it’s now time to begin using that knowledge to read. Again, you’re already ahead of the game because you’re reading RIGHT NOW. Good job!

Hopefully, reading in English has become a regular part of your day-to-day life. Reading has many benefits outside of just improving reading comprehension. Regardless of what language it’s in, you should be reading a little bit every day. This is especially true if you are attempting to learn and comprehend a brand new language.

So, in the interest of improving your reading comprehension skills, you’ll want to keep reading texts just like this. Do so at least once a day.

Watch TV Shows & Movies

You’re probably happy to see this one. Who wouldn’t want to use education as an excuse to sit around and watch TV? Fortunately, it’s not just an excuse, it’s a legitimate technique that’s helped countless people learn English.

If you can comprehend English in the written form, it’s time to test your skills at understanding it when it’s spoken. Especially in a fast-paced, colloquial manner; as is the case with a lot of dialogue in television and film. Entertainment is a reflection of how people talk. If you want to eventually talk, you’re going to have to start absorbing how other people talk.

On top of that, English listening is made a lot easier with the help of subtitles. You can either use English subtitles or subtitles in your language as a handy frame of reference. These will help to improve your English overall.

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Listen to Podcasts

One of the greatest tips for listening and improving your listening skills is consuming podcasts. Your best podcasts for learning English are just a click away!

Mind you, without the subtitles or visual cues, podcasts are a little trickier than watching TV and movies. This is an intermediate step, for when you’ve mastered the previous ones. But it’s a great resource to help you with English listening and improving comprehension overall.

Podcasts are a window into a conversation or monologue that will help you better understand the nuances of comprehending English. The complexity of the format and subject matter will push you into the direction you want to go in. Plus, they can be enjoyed from anywhere at almost any time.

Talk to Someone

For the most advanced of all the steps, you have the act of speaking. All your tips for listening skills will mean nothing if you can’t use them to hold a conversation with another human being.

Conversations are a give and take situation, where the take is made up of comprehension and the give is based on how well you can comprehend. All-in-all, a conversation is built upon the act of comprehension. So, being able to carry one out with someone is a true test of how far you’ve come and how far you need to go.

Let’s be honest, the reason that you’re so keen to improve your English is that you want to eventually get yourself to the point where you can speak to someone. Don’t worry if it feels shaky at first, just fight through that feeling — you won’t be perfect in the beginning.


Comprehension is the end-all-be-all of learning any language. That’s why it might seem like an almost impossible thing to master, especially in the beginning. But it’s prevalence is what makes it so easy to learn. Every language-learning method out there focuses on comprehension in one way or another — it’s almost inescapable.

So, just keep in mind that improving your English comprehension isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are a lot of fantastic resources out there for you to learn from, it’s just a matter of putting in the necessary work.

About the Author: My name is Alla. I am an education enthusiast. I know 4 languages and desire for more. I work at Preply. I help tutors and learners find each other and know how to make online education effective and interesting.

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