You should be selective about the material you read and listen to. It’s really important to use the right level of material. For this you can follow the golden rule for selecting material.
You should listen to and read material which is your level + 1 (Krashen, 1989, 2003). This means that you shouldn’t choose material which is either too low or too high. You should be able to understand the general context, but not all of the words. Additionally, you shouldn't be familiar with all the grammar structures used.
Read or listen to a little of the material.
If you understand everything (the context and the vocabulary) then it is too easy for you.
If you don’t understand even the general context (what is happening and who is who) it’s too difficult for you.
If there are words or phrases that you find difficult to understand, but this doesn't stop you from understanding the general context, this is the perfect level for you.
- This is because we are able to understand grammar and vocabulary that we have not heard or seen before, simply from the context.
- The way to improve and progress in a language is to learn new structures and vocabulary through a context we can understand.
- If you read or listen to something that is too high for you, it is like going to the gym and trying to lift weights that are too heavy for you. It won’t help you build muscles.
- It’s the same for listening and reading – it won’t help you improve your English.