How to Improve your Reading Skills

reading aloudWhy are some texts difficult to understand?

Most readers when reading something challenging, have to confront some or many of these problems listed below:

• the passage has too many unknown words
• the paragraphs has some long, complicated sentences
• the topic is about a something you know nothing about
• the topic is about something you find uninteresting
• the text has small print, long paragraphs, and no pictures
• you are feeling tired and distracted
• you don’t know why you have been asked to read this passage

However you can give yourself an advantage if you know how:

1. Know why you are reading this – maybe it is an IELTS passage, a document for work or even something someone else has recommended. Whatever your reason, know why and this will help you know where and how to start understanding what you are reading..

2. Decide from the start if you are skimming or scanning your passage – If you know why your are reading this passage, you will know how to approach it, to skim or to scan. Either way you can narrow down your focus and start reading with more speed.

3. Get background information – If you are asked to read it because of something related to work or an assignment, do some simple research first about the topic so that you can at least have some background information before you start. This helps you to start to understand what some of those unknown words are.

4. Use your dictionary – If you have the time, use the dictionary to help you with some of the new words, but read the paragraph first and only then go back and highlight the words you think you need to look up.

5. Think about how the writer has organized the passage – Writers always set out their writing in a certain structure to help the reader, e.g. a time line, an essay format, etc. Early on in the reading of the passage, make a decision how you think the passage is organized and so you can anticipate what to expect.

6. How do you feel when you are reading? – Think about how comfortable you are reading where and when you are. Some people can read anywhere, on a train, in a bus, on the sofa while the television is on, at 2.00 in the morning and so on, but most people need a certain level of quietness or comfort to concentrate. Think about what you need and make sure you are getting it.

Whatever you need to read best, always make sure you are getting it. Reading is the most important and easily obtainable English language discipline to help you build both your vocabulary and fluency.

DYK #4


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