Image courtesy of Sam Greenhalgh via Flickr (cc 2.0)
In the previous part, we spoke of how speed reading and deducing meaning can lead to better comprehension. Here are some more techniques for you to try:
- Improve concentration
Your powers of concentration perhaps affect your ability to understand a piece of text more than anything else, so train yourself to concentrate well over long periods. Are you wondering how? Well, take one small step at a time. To begin with, see if you are able to focus on what you are reading for about 10 to 15 minutes, increasing the reading time as you go along. The ultimate goal should be to form an ability to concentrate on a task for as long as an hour.
- Widen vocabulary
Unfamiliar vocabulary is often a stumbling block to reading comprehension, so the more words you are able to recognise, the better you understand a text. One way to learn new vocabulary is by maintaining a running list of words you don’t understand; later, you can look them up in a dictionary. Of course, you need to make it a point to use the words too, while speaking or writing, so that they become a part of your active vocabulary.
- Expand background knowledge
Background knowledge and vocabulary sort of go hand in hand: an individual who doesn’t know much about factories may not understand words such as supply chain, reverse engineering, or lay-off. Do not panic though, as there are several ways to acquire background knowledge about something – watching TV programmes, reading articles, talking to people with experience, making visits, etc.
- Read for pleasure
We commonly turn academic activities into a right struggle, not realising that it doesn’t have to be that way! Turn reading into a fun activity by reading for pleasure: read about your favourite movie star or an exotic holiday destination, or read a novel by your favourite author. This will help you truly engage with the text, because you are reading content that you find interesting.
Remember, there are no shortcuts to improving your reading ability. Keep at it, and your comprehension will get better with time.
|stumbling block (to something)|
|Meaning||:||something that stops you from achieving something|
|Example||:||Lack of funding is the major stumbling block to completing this project.|
|Example||:||Stanley has had a running battle with the council over his new garage.|
|make it a point (to do something)|
|Meaning||:||to make sure something happens|
|Example||:||Cindy makes it a point to avoid heavy meals while travelling.|
|go hand in hand|
|Meaning||:||to be closely related|
|Example||:||It’s a fact that poverty and crime usually go hand in hand.|
|engage (with something)|
|Meaning||:||to be fully involved and try to understand something|
|Example||:||Young children engage with content that is full of colourful images.|
|keep at (something)|
|Meaning||:||to continue to work on something|
|Example||:||He kept at it and finally learnt how to take a free kick.|