Advanced Reading – Improve your English & your Knowledge!

Do you think it is possible to become a successful English writer when English is your second language? 


Imagine being taught English at school but not hearing it spoken outside of  the classroom.

This is an everyday fact for many of you.

Imagine not using English until you have moved, as an adult, to an English speaking country.

Would it be possible to reach native-speaker proficiency?

I know that you’ve been told that adults can’t speak English like a native speaker unless they become proficient when they’re a child.

You may have also been told that to be considered proficient, you need to speak with an English accent. However, there is no one true English accent. All you have to remember is that you need to speak clearly so that people can understand you. Keep your accent. It is an important part of you. You don’t need to speak like a native!!

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem

Think about actors like Penelope Cruz,  whose first language is Spanish and Audrey Tautou, whose first language is French. They both sound wonderful when they speak English with strong Spanish / French accents.  

I have taught Asian students who don’t believe that they will be able to speak or write at an advanced level because their language is so different to English. Well, just listen to these Korean pop idols who have never lived abroad and yet speak fantastic English. What about Takahiro Moriuchi, the lead singer from the Japanese group One Ok Rock?  He sings and speaks English very well and is very easy to understand.

Taka Moriuchi …

Korean pop idol – EXID’s Hani

In case you have not yet realised my point, it is this: you should never feel that your English is not good enough for speaking or writing! It’s amazing what you can achieve if you have the right attitude!

I would now like to introduce you to a man who didn’t start speaking and writing English every day as part of his job until he was nearly forty – who has become an internationally successful English writer – reaching #1 and #9 for two of his books on Amazon.

JC Ryan has become a bestselling author of spellbinding archaeological mysteries and crime suspense-thrillers.  He has published books in three series. They are all available from Amazon at very low prices.

You can sign up for his confidential mailing list and  receive the Free eBookMYSTERIES FROM THE ANCIENTS, an 80-page e-book about thought-provoking, unsolved archaeological mysteries. Click on the link to see an image of the free book and a description of what is in the book.

Reading is one of the best ways to improve your English because it gives you Grammar: word order and verb usage; Vocabulary, including prepositions, articles, phrasal verbs and collocations; and Knowledge. Reading helps you become more confident with your English. You also acquire more knowledge about the world and are better prepared to discuss all kinds of topics in Speaking Exams as well as in everyday conversations. 

My advice to you is to check out the links above. Read about J C Ryan. Sign up for the mailing list and free e-book. Then, read it! 

If you find MYSTERIES FROM THE ANCIENTS an exciting read, have a look at the three series J C Ryan has published. There are no free copies available. However, when I contacted Mr Ryan and asked if I could write about him on this blog, he very kindly provided the first chapter of his first novel, The Tenth Cycle, for me to use. I feel very privileged to be able to share it with you.

So, for your enjoyment,  here is a sample of what can be achieved by a writer whose first language is not English:

The Tenth Cycle

A Thriller

A Rossler Foundation Mystery

By JC Ryan

This is the first book in the Rossler Foundation Mystery Series.
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Copyright ©2014 JC Ryan
All Rights Reserved.


Chapter 1 – Near Kabul, Afghanistan, July 2009

Daniel Rossler and two of his friends from ISAF
headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan set out early in the morning
on Daniel’s birthday, July 8th, on the A1 toward Jalalabad some
one-hundred and fifty klicks and three hours or so to the east.
IEDs, or Improvised Explosive Devices had made this stretch of
road one of the most dangerous places in the world.

Daniel, an irrepressible 26-year-old journalist embedded
with the Marine unit, matched his comrades’ skill for skill except
in armed combat. As a journalist, he was neither expected nor
permitted to carry a weapon, though his upbringing in the North
Carolina Mountains had included skill with a hunting rifle. Now,
his preferred physical activities were hiking, swimming, and the
occasional impromptu wrestling match with the two friends in the
Jeep with him today or other opponents from their unit. At sixfoot-three,
his wiry frame was perhaps a little lighter than most of
his heavily-muscled Marine opponents, but his quick thinking and
unconventional moves allowed him to win more often than he

“Hey, Sarge,” Rossler yelled over the noise of the vehicle
on the highway. “Isn’t this the road that the Taliban keeps
“You afraid of a little rebel IED, Rossler?” the sergeant

That effectively shut down any further discussion on the
matter. The one thing Daniel couldn’t allow was his Marine
friends thinking he was a wuss. Traffic was unusually light this
morning, which should have warned the three friends, especially
the Marines. Instead, they were elated to be making such good
time during the early hours before the heat of the day set in.

Seeing the well-populated area on both sides of the road
for the first fifty klicks, Daniel wondered at the logic of the Taliban
rebels who harassed travelers along this road without regard to
loyalty. Anyone could be killed by an IED, even Afghan citizens
making their way to market, or children.

He was aware of the joint task force squads that had been
specially trained to sweep for and dispose of the deadly items,
though. Daniel felt as safe on this trip as he did anywhere in
Afghanistan, which was to say, not very. Nevertheless, today’s
mission would provide good background for his next column. It
was important work, and Daniel was good at it.

Daniel didn’t realize he had stopped watching the road
ahead until he heard Sgt. Ellis shout, “Look out!” He found himself
in mid-flight as the Jeep swerved violently, and then overturned
beside the road, pinning Ellis and the driver, Sgt. Pierce, and
throwing Daniel clear. He was trying to sort himself out to stand
when shots rang out from further up the road.

“Shit!” Daniel cried, hunkering down into a rapid belly
crawl toward the Jeep where his friends lay injured a couple of
yards away. With bullets kicking up the sandy dirt all around him,
Daniel reached the relative safety of the Jeep more in rage than in
fear. Finding Pierce conscious but injured, he said, “What the

“IED,” Pierce answered, wincing in pain. “Didn’t see it until
Ellis hollered, had to swerve to miss it.”
“Who’s shooting at us?” Daniel asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. The Taliban maybe?” Even in pain,
Pierce was acerbic, causing Daniel to wish he hadn’t asked such a
stupid question.

“How are you doing? What hurts?” he asked.
Pierce said, “Think my arm is broken, maybe leg too.
Mostly I’d like to get this hunk of metal off me.”

Daniel surveyed the way the vehicle had come to rest on
Pierce’s leg, noticing that a fortuitously-placed rock had kept the
vehicle from resting heavily on the leg, though it would still need a
couple more inches to clear the leg and foot. Sgt. Ellis was
unconscious, his head resting on a larger but flatter rock, and both
legs pinned by the frame of the windshield. One looked bad, like
the frame had acted as a cleaver. Daniel couldn’t tell if the lower
part was still attached to Ellis’ body.

“Where’s your weapon, Pierce?” Daniel asked anxiously.
While he and the two Marines were relatively sheltered by the
bulk of the vehicle, sporadic automatic weapons fire told him the
rebels were still out there, and would probably come looking for
anything they could pick up unless they knew someone would
shoot back.
“Racked between the seats,” Pierce ground out between
clenched teeth.
“Hold on. I’m going to try to get you and Ellis out from
under this thing, and then I’ll grab the weapons.”

Daniel quickly surveyed what they had in the Jeep that
could be used as a lever, or at least a prop, without finding much
that he thought would be useful. They did have a large metal
lockbox, which Daniel found a few feet from the rear of the
vehicle. Retrieving it, he shoved the box under the center of the
vehicle to prevent it shifting further – he hoped. Bullets were
flying overhead and hitting the Jeep sporadically. If the Jeep
crushed the box, they’d be in worse shape than before. Then, with
no other choice, he asked Pierce if he would be able to scoot out
from under the vehicle on his own, if Daniel could lift it a few

“I’ll try,” Pierce answered.

Daniel wormed his way into the gap, shoving his head and
shoulders under the frame and pushing until his body was lifting
one side of the Jeep, while dragging the box in with him to solidify
his gains. He had managed to lift the vehicle only a couple of
inches when Pierce said, “I’m loose.”

Leaving the box in place, Daniel backed out, hoping to find
that he’d also made enough progress that he could drag Ellis out.
When he went to look, he paled at the damage he could now see.
Though he swiftly used his belt as a tourniquet, it appeared Ellis
could be in trouble if help didn’t arrive soon. However, there was
nothing else he could do but pull him out from under the vehicle
before it shifted again and finished the job of severing Ellis’s leg.
With little more to be gained in lifting the Jeep higher, Daniel
stood, then half-crouched to get purchase on the injured man,
pulling him to safety as bullets flew by his now-exposed head.

Both of his friends now released but too injured to help,
Daniel retrieved their Colt SMGs and fired a few shots back in the
general direction of the gunfire just to let the bastards know there
would be hell to pay if they dared to come closer. He could only
hope that a friendly military patrol would come along before he
exhausted his ammunition. With that in mind, he quickly
reconnoitered to see if he could determine the exact location
where the shots were coming from. About three hundred yards
away he could see a structure, and nothing in between. Well
within their effective range, but to his advantage was that if they
were to attack him and his friends they would have to approach
over open terrain with no protection. He would have the cover of
the Jeep and would be able to pick them off one by one. He fired
a few shots toward the building to scare them and let them know
that he knew where they were. He would wait until they
approached before firing more shots, and just hope there weren’t
too many of them coming at the same time. With adrenaline
pumping through his system, he waited.

Half an hour passed, during which time he’d been forced
to fire a short burst to keep two insurgents off them. Then, a
rumble that signaled a vehicle approaching from the direction of
Kabul caught his attention. It was followed shortly by automatic
weapons fire and the gun fire from the building going quiet very

The sound of American voices, yelling out “Yo, jarheads,
you all right?” brought him up from his post.
“Got two wounded here. Who are you guys?”
“Task Force Paladin. Looks like you started to do our job
for us out here. Who the hell are you?”

Daniel didn’t take offense. He wasn’t in uniform after all.
He stood to his full height and walked toward the Army squad to
explain what had happened.
♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

Copyright 2014 by J C Ryan

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United
States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of
the material or artwork herein is prohibited. This book is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents
are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Advanced Reading – Improve your English & your Knowledge!

  1. Maria says:

    Thanks so much for the tips! I wish I could spend a lot of time just reading!


    • mhardy3222 says:

      I know how you feel Maria! I find that the best time is in bed at night. It’s also a perfect time for anyone learning English. It means that English is the dominant language when you fall asleep, so the brain can more easily process the English that you’ve learnt during the day. However, your English sounds very natural Maria. Thank you for your comment and I hope you can find more time for reading.


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