A Reading List to Improve Your English

The Universal Learning Institute (ULI) supports international students who want to improve their English language skills. Our campus is a place where you can talk to native speakers and other ESL students. We also encourage you to read English language books. Reading is an ideal way to expand your vocabulary and increase comprehension.

This list of book recommendations for ESL students presents a variety of titles. You should find a few titles that appeal to you. From ideas important for success to some good relaxing fun, these books will build your English reading skills.


This list offers everything from career advice to new ways of looking at the world.

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – First published in 1936, it is easy to read and packed with tips for effective communication and success in life.
  2. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – An influential work that explains how ideas, behaviours, and products become popular.
  3. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth – Given 5 or 4-star reviews by most readers, the book says that success depends on dedication more than talent.
  4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Often the recipient of 5-star praise from readers, the book will train you to be mindful or your habits.
  5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – Anyone, introvert or extrovert, can benefit from this book that most readers give 4 or 5 stars.

Relax With Your Imagination

Reading fiction can help you unwind after studying for exams. Get to know some characters whose adventures will help you learn more English.

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Still getting 5 star reviews after 200 years, this monster story written by a teenager created the science fiction genre.
  2. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – Featuring the famous character Sherlock Holmes, this story is a great read on a spooky night. Doyle wrote popular fiction, and you’ll have little trouble with his prose.
  3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – This modern science fiction comedy will put a smile on your face. Plus, the text contains the answer to life, the universe, and everything!
  4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Perhaps you already read this world-famous novel in your own language. Even so, Harry’s adventures at wizard school as written in their original English will build your language skills.

How to Prepare for Your New College Life in Vancouver

Preparing for college life in Vancouver can be both exciting and unnerving. Canada is well known for its cultural, social and linguistic diversity, making it an ideal destination to further your education. To help you get acclimated, here are 3 ways to prepare for your new college life in Vancouver:

1. Get Mentally Prepared

Whether you are moving across the country or leaving home for the very first time, college life is going to bring some changes. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to mentally prepare for your new journey:

• Establish a support system. The first few months of college can be overwhelming in a number of ways. Having a strong support system can help you make good decisions while away from home. Before leaving, make a list of your closest family, friends and classmates. These are the people you can call for advice and support when you need it.

• Work on a few basic life skills. Being on your own for the first time can be unnerving. Take your last few months before college to master skills like budgeting, laundry and time management.

2. Get Financially Prepared

Once you’ve mentally prepared to begin your college career in Vancouver, the next step is to get financially prepared. You will need a bank account to use for everyday expenses. Major banks like BMO Financial Group, TD Bank Group, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC Financial Group), Scotiabank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce are easily accessible throughout Vancouver.

3. Learn How to Get Around

The final step towards preparing for college is to learn how to get around. A Universal Transit Pass or U-Pass gives you access to travel by SeaBus, SkyTrain or bus. Benefits of the U-Pass include lower travel costs for students, reduced emissions and easy access to recreation, entertainment and other off-campus attractions. Once purchased, the U-Pass can be loaded onto an Adult Compass Card and used for travel. Best of all, fees for the U-Pass are collected directly from your academic institution as part of your school fees.

Preparing for college life in Vancouver may seem intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these 3 simple steps and you will be well on your way to a successful year.

How to Improve Your English Skills

Learning to speak, read, and understand English can be a fun and rewarding experience if you bring enthusiasm and patience to your lessons, explore a variety of resources for assisting your linguistic journey, and if you make practice a priority.

Often, a person’s biggest hurdle to learning a language is his or herself! A lack of confidence in your ability to become fluent in English will hold you back from embracing all of the challenges, embarrassing moments, “silly” questions, and opportunities to practice. Maybe you’ve tried learning another language before and never made it past the basic level. Maybe you don’t trust yourself to do what it takes to go from beginner to advanced understanding. Maybe you’ve heard it’s not easy to learn English. However, none of that matters, and you need to believe none of it matters to be successful.

If you are going to start learning the language, the biggest boost you can give yourself is acceptance of the task at hand and confidence in your ability to succeed. Acknowledge that there are people that speak 3, 4, or 10 different languages. Acknowledge your own achievements in life so far and challenges you’ve overcome. Focus on your motivation for learning whether it’s because you want to travel in English speaking countries or expand your business and make more money. What is it about why you want to learn English that is exciting to you? Remind yourself often.

Explore as many resources as you can, and practice, practice, practice! A classroom or tutoring setting can be excellent. The instructor or tutor maps out a coherent approach to learning, you’ll have others to practice with, and you’ll receive feedback as you practice. Finding a native speaker to practice with is a great idea as you’ll be exposed to colloquialisms and slang that you might not hear in a classroom.

You’ll need maximum exposure to the language to improve. Find lessons on Youtube. Try phone apps like Duolingo. Watch TV or movies in English or with English subtitles. Movies and shows for children are a good place to start. Label items in your house in English. Make flashcards. Reading out loud is a good way to improve pronunciation. Keep things interesting for yourself by using different resources.

Have fun with the process, be patient, be open to practice opportunities, and celebrate your achievements along the way! You can do it!