Reading is your bridge to learn more about the English language and culture. In essence, it is perhaps the most essential skill for beginning language learners to develop. Let’s face it, in this post alone you will be reading over ______ of words. Given that, you can imagine you will be reading thousands every single day. Besides that, you will notice that by improving your reading comprehension skills, other skills such as speaking, listening and writing will start to develop as well, so it is fair to say improving your reading skills is a wise decision to make.
Now, in order to take advantage of all the possibilities available, it is not enough to be literate. In order to have academic and professional success, you need to learn how to read well. An essential skill for all English students is the ability to obtain the necessary information from a text in order to deliver a response. This response could be anything from ordering food, talking about an article in the newspaper, or something as critical as giving an answer in an exam. This is an essential reading skill, and in this article I will show you the strategies to achieve it.
- Asking and Answering Questions
What questions come to mind when you preview an article? As you read, come up with questions about the text you would like to be answered and pay attention on when they are answered.
- Reading in context
It is always good to learn to place the text within a context. Is the article centered on something that happens in another country or is it local? Does the main character go through a situation you feel identified with? All this questions will set the environment for you to start reading. Many times, when I use articles in my lessons, I ask students some questions related to the heading of the article. When it is finally time to read, they are eager to know what the article says about the topic
After the reading, you should be able to get the gist of the text you read. What was the main point in the story? This is not about retelling what happened but rather to give an overall view of the material you read in a concise manner.
It involves looking for certain words and types of information in the text without reading. What jumps right off the pages? Headlines, titles, familiar vocabulary, places or names will give you a general idea of what the text is about. This is absolutely essential because, as you read, you will be doing it whilst having the context in your head.
Both scanning and skimming are considered speed-reading skills as they are not used for intensive reading, but still very important as there will be times when you need to find specific information about a text and not read for every detail. It means to read a text quickly in order to find specific information e.g. figures, names. In practice, you will be using both quite often. For example, a student that needs to find a specific figure in a textbook will skim through chapters to find the one that talks about the subject and then will scan it to find the figure he was looking for.
Practice reading using these techniques and you will see a tremendous improvement in your reading and always remember to read about things that are interesting to you. Reading about topics you like will make you apply all the techniques discussed and will give you a new understanding of the things you already knew.