Improve Your Reading Comprehension (Part 1)
Image courtesy of Matthias Uhlig via Flickr (CC 2.0)
Let’s face it, among all the language skills, reading is perhaps what most people least enjoy, especially if it happens to be an academic text. The reason for this can vary – a wandering mind, narrow vocabulary, or just impatience.
However, there are situations where this skill is a must; an exam perhaps being the best example. Almost all popular language tests have a reading component. IELTS, for instance, has a reading module designed to test a wide range of reading skills.
So, how do you improve your comprehension if you are not the reading kind? Here are some ways:
- Use speed reading
Speed reading is the technique of reading a text quickly with the aim of understanding its overall idea. In a reading comprehension test, this skill is priceless, as test takers find themselves in a race against the clock to answer all the questions. When dealing with long passages, the reader often focuses on content words – i.e. words that carry the message, such as nouns, main verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. This way, they save time, allowing them to better focus understanding and answering those questions.
- Learn to deduce meaning
One thing that slows readers down is unfamiliar vocabulary. Each time they come across a word they don’t recognise, it hinders their reading speed, thereby affecting comprehension too. One way to overcome this problem is to develop the ability to deduce meaning. In other words, form an ability to guess the meaning of a word you don’t know by looking at words surrounding it. Let’s put this technique to test with the help of an example:
We drove past hyacinth fields in full bloom, the air filled with their sweet, lingering fragrance.
If you don’t recognise the word ‘hyacinth’, focus on words surrounding it – fields, in full bloom, sweet, lingering, and fragrance. From the context, it is clear that hyacinth is something that grows in fields, develops over time, and has a pleasant smell that is long-lasting. If your guess at this point is that it’s a flower, then you are dead right!
So, the next time you come across an unfamiliar word, try to deduce its meaning; then look it up in a dictionary to confirm you guessed right.
|let’s face it|
|Meaning||:||used to indicate what you are about to say is unpleasant but true|
|Example||:||Let’s face it, we both know you shouldn’t be marrying a guy like Jake.|
|Meaning||:||moving aimless from one place to another|
|Example||:||Sally fares poorly in studies because of her wandering mind.|
|Meaning||:||an individual’s ability to understand things|
|Example||:||Miguel had no comprehension of how difficult it was to raise a child.|
|a race against the clock|
|Meaning||:||a situation when someone has to do something quickly, as they only have a limited amount of time|
|Example||:||Rescuing people during floods is always a race against the clock.|
|Meaning||:||to make it difficult for someone or something to make progress|
|Example||:||A leg injury hindered Roger from playing his best tennis.|