Reading is one of the main methods we use to acquire data and information in the contemporary world. In order to read a text, a person should have a basic understanding of how sounds are represented alphabetically, sufficient background knowledge and vocabulary to make written texts meaningful. There are many methods to improve reading skills. However, the most important factor in improving reading skills is reading itself. There is nothing better than daily reading to improve your reading skills.
What is the Most Important Factor in Improving Reading Skills
Read, Read and Read
The most important factor in improving reading skills is practice. The more you read, better you’ll be at reading. You can master your reading skills by reading daily. It doesn’t matter what you read – you can read books, magazines, comics, newspaper, notices, posters, web pages, etc. But make sure you understand the meaning of what you read. If you don’t understand words and phrases, you can always check out the unfamiliar words in a dictionary. As you spend more time reading, the words will be more familiar, and you will naturally get better at reading. Make sure you read for at least twenty minutes every day.
You can use different ways of reading in order to develop different reading skills.
Types of Reading
There are four types of reading skills known as skimming, scanning, extensive reading and intensive reading.
Skimming: Quickly running your eyes over a text in order to get the gist of the text.
Ex: newspaper (to get the general news), magazines (to see which articles are of interest), brochures, etc.
Scanning: Quickly going over a text in order to find a particular piece of information.
Ex: Train schedule, TV guide, etc.
Extensive Reading: Reading longer texts to obtain a general knowledge of a text. This also includes reading for pleasure.
Ex: novels, magazine articles, history books, books on business, etc.
Intensive Reading: Reading shorter texts to obtain specific information. Each word, each fact must be understood by the reader.
Ex: contract, bookkeeping report, reading for academic purposes, etc.
However, these four ways of reading are not mutually exclusive. For example, people skim through magazines and newspapers to find what articles are interesting. Then they would start extensive reading.
Reading requires a variety of skills. Given below are some of these skills.
- Understanding the script of a language (the written word)
- Inferring the meaning and usage of unfamiliar words and phrases
- Understanding explicitly stated information
- Understanding information that is not explicitly stated
- Understanding the connotations or conceptual meanings
- Understanding the relation within different parts of sentences
- Identifying the main focus or the most important facts of a text
- Extracting the main facts to summarize
Given below are some tips to improve your reading skills
- Start by reading easy books. If you start with reading materials that are too advanced for your level, you will have a hard time understanding the meaning. When this happens, you’ll also lose interest in reading. You can also choose topics and subjects that interest you the most. As your reading skills improve, you can work your way up by reading advanced books.
- Learn new vocabulary. This is a very important factor in improving reading skills. You can note down the unfamiliar words you find in your daily reading and learn them. As you improve your reading skills, you’ll find less and less unfamiliar words. But try to learn at least one new word per day.
- Read material from different genres. Don’t just read one type of books – try them all. This will help you to learn a diverse vocabulary as well as different writing styles.
- Join a book club. Joining a book club will motivate you to finish a book. Even if you don’t understand some parts of the book, you can discuss about it with other members.
- If you are reading for an academic purpose, always take notes while reading. You can also use methods such underlining and highlighting.
- Join a library. This will help you to find different genres of books.
- Don’t focus on individual words. Try to understand the general meaning of whole phrases, sentences at once. This will help to improve your reading speed.
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