The following set of guidelines can help you to improve your reading comprehension and become a better reader:
- As another receptive skill, there is no way to become good at reading without reading a lot. In other words, you should develop a huge appetite for reading, and making it one of your daily habits. Some scholars believe that you should become a ‘voracious reader’.
- As in listening, you don’t need to know all the words and phrases to be able to understand the main message, the same scenario is applicable to reading. If you are an elementary or intermediate language learner, you will certainly find some unseen words and phrases in the passages you read. Yet, you are not supposed to stop at any unknown word and look it up in your dictionary. Instead, it is recommended that you try to guess the meaning of the words you don’t know with the help of the words, lines or even paragraphs before and after it. This is technically referred to as ‘Contextualisation’.
- Of course, there is no doubt that the more words and phrases you know, the better and faster you can read. Therefore, you cannot take reading for granted without developing your word knowledge to an optimum degree.
- With the huge amount of information, you need to accelerate the pace of reading, which is called ‘speed reading’. First and foremost, speed reading is the result of a lot of practice. Furthermore, especially in early stages, you can use your finger or any other sharp-pointed object to follow the lines and have more concentration.
- Also you can speed up your reading through ‘silent reading’. To be more precise, when your eyes are moving on the lines, keep your tongue passive. Technically speaking, it’s better not to vocalise the words you read because vocalisation can reduce your speed to a noticeable degree.
- Another way to practice speed reading is to read a novel or a long story. This is called ‘extensive reading’, in which you are not required to look up every unknown word in your dictionary as the chain of events can help you to guess the meaning of unknown words. In addition, you can take a lot of pleasure in reading a novel that you really like.
- Another technique for appropriate reading comprehension is to be an active reader. It means that at the time of reading, you are supposed to place yourself in the writer’s shoes to make some intelligent guesses and predictions in the text you are reading. You can raise the level of your criticality by underlying, highlighting, annotating or adding short notes to a book or piece of writing, paraphrasing or rewriting the same sentence(s) in your own words with a different form but the same meaning. After all, it is believed that “Reading without thinking is like eating without digesting”.
- Another technique for speed reading is ‘scanning’. When you scan a passage, you simply try to locate some particular pieces of information in the form of words, phrases, etc. As soon as you find the exact information, you do not continue reading the passage anymore.
- In contrast with ‘scanning’, sometimes you are required to read a passage as fast as you can just to get the main idea or gist of the text. This technique is called ‘skimming’. Remember that in both scanning and skimming, you are supposed to read the passage as fast as possible.
- At more advanced stages, you need to ‘read between the lines’. It means that you should make sound inferences. Sometimes, the message is not directly mentioned in the passage; that is, it is ‘implied’ or indirectly stated. A good reader must be able to focus on the meaning of what he/she is reading, and this cannot happen to you without enough practice in reading.
- When reading a book, remember that you don’t need to read it from cover to cover. It’s important to take a look at the ‘Contents’ section at the beginning of the book, and the ‘Index’ section (if it exists) at the end of it. Notice that in most cases, the first and the last paragraphs of each chapter hold the main idea of the entire chapter. In the end, in terms of the importance of reading in today’s life, pay attention to what Brian Tracy has wisely said about reading: “Perhaps not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”.
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