Reading is quite a common task. But why is it considered a “Skill”? Well, wherever we go, whatever we see in the world is all expressed textually in some way or the other. Be it reading a letter or reading novels or a research paper, everything involves different levels of reading. In some cases, we also need to “read between the lines” of a text. For example, when you sign a document, you need to make sure by reading between the lines that there are no loop holes or any other different meaning apart from what you see, in the statements mentioned in it. To do this, one requires an essential skill – “Reading”. Reading is broadly classified into three: scanning, skimming and detailed reading.
- Scanning is when you quickly look into a page or a book for a particular word or a phrase. Example: looking for a person’s name in a telephone directory. You focus your mind only on the detail you want to see in the book.
- Skimming is going through the outline and only the main points of the text to get an idea about its contents. It is like superficial reading. You do not go deeply into the content; you only need a gist of it. Example: reading the synopsis or summary of a novel or research paper.
- Detailed Reading is when you read word by word and understand the meaning of the sentence in every possible dimension to get a very clear idea about what the text is all about. Example: doing research on an already written thesis, proof reading, etc.
You may read in your own native dialect or in any other language that you have learnt or in that you are learning. But whatever may be the language, reading involves the same levels and techniques. If you think you need to improve your reading skills, here are the ten tips to help you master this skill in a practically efficient and easier way.
10. Choose the perfect Environment
Ambiance matters. Reading requires concentration and peace of mind. Before you start reading anything, make sure you do not have any disturbances and distractions. Choose a quiet and cozy place where you can sit freely and read anything with full concentration and dedication. You may also have a piece of furniture to rest your book like a desk or table or just sit in a chair or anywhere you are comfortable and enjoy your reading time. If possible, create a special spot to sit and read. It will enhance your mood to read as it is solely dedicated only for your reading time.
9. Pick the right material
You can read anything and everything. But, if you wish to improve your reading skills, pick the right material. Read what enthralls you. If you read a book or a document that you find boring, you will obviously lose interest in reading further. If you are a beginner, pick a book that’s easy and has a simple vocabulary. Don’t choose contents with bombastic words. It will make it tedious to understand and read smoothly. Read a variety of topics. Do not stick on to the same one for a long time. Be adventurous in reading different styles of writing and a variety of materials. You may even start with a primary school story book! It does not matter what you read because how you read alone matters. You may also read some interesting articles of your interest on “Listdose”!
8. Use a pencil / highlighter
Use a pencil / highlighter to follow what you read. If you don’t understand something, underline it. If you think something is more important or conveys more meanings in depth that what it seems, highlight it. Re-read it if you don’t understand by reading just once. Using a pencil / highlighter will help you stay on track. You will not lose your concentration or miss out on any important words if you are doing some detailed reading. It improves your focus and understanding as well. Make notes or write hints on the margin, if you want to do some extra research on something you read. This will help you enhance your reading skills.
7. Refer to the dictionary
When you are reading a book or a journal, if you don’t understand a particular word, do not get upset. Just jot it down on a paper and refer to the dictionary. If possible go for a bigger dictionary rather than the compact ones, as it gives you the root origin of the word and detailed meaning along with their synonyms and usage in a sentence while the compact dictionaries only give you the meaning which may not be apt for the word in the context where you actually read it. This will not only clarify you doubts, but also help you remember them as you know how they originated. You may also install a dictionary app or refer to free online dictionaries on your mobile phones and tablets. Technology makes it all handy!
6. Use Contextual hints
You may not know all the words in a language. You need not know as well. Referring to the dictionary every now and then will make reading a very tiresome process. You may lose track and interest if you stop in the middle of a sentence in order to understand a single word. In such a situation, try using the contextual hints. Most of the words can be understood by guessing their meanings with the help of the previous or the succeeding sentences. For example, if you take the sentence -“The stoneware was strong and unbreakable, while the glassware was its opposite. It was too fragile.” Since the sentence states that glassware was stoneware’s opposite, you can easily guess the meaning of the word ‘fragile’ being breakable. This is called contextual guessing. This will save a lot of your time and encourage you to read more.
5. Get an idea before reading
Before you start reading something, first get an idea of what you are about to read to help you understand and get a clear picture of the content. Read the title; look for pictorial representations like graphs, maps, charts and other images if any. All these will give you an idea as to what the text is all about. This lets you prepare your mind and relate to things and topics that you already know. They will also give you a hint regarding the type and writing style used by the author. For example, if you see statistical tables and graphs about the number of tigers poached in a particular forest and its map describing the location and time period, you can very well make out as to what the text is all about even before actually reading it. So scan for such hints and get an idea before you read.
4. Read aloud
If you are unable to follow what you read or unable to concentrate, try reading aloud. Reading loudly may seem childish, but it is one of the best ways to help you focus. It will help you to stay on track and escape other distractions. This will also help you to know more about your reading ability like how often you struggle to pronounce a word, how your pace is while reading different sentences and how you change your tone while reading different contents. If you are surrounded by a lot of people, try reading loudly in your own mind. This will also help you focus in what you read when you do not want to be perturbed by the people around you.
To improve your speed in reading, the most efficient method is to set a target. Reading at a faster rate does not mean that you understand everything that you read. Most people read very fast, but they would have understood nothing or would not have taken anything into their mind from what ever they read. If you want to read fast as well as understand what you read, all you need is “Practice.” Plan what you want to read and the number of days or hours you need. Try to finish the book before the deadline. Do not skip pages or paragraphs, as it would only spoil your reading experience. If you want to improve even better, try to set a timer and read the words. Calculate the number of words you read per minute. Make sure you have ample time to read and set the target depending on your reading ability.
2. Read more books
Visit the library in your locality regularly. Libraries have a variety of contents, and they also provide the best ambiance to inspire anybody to read more and more. Explore as many books as possible, read different journals, magazines, newspapers, comics, biographies, autobiographies, novels, anything and everything! You can also lend or borrow books among your friends and other passionate readers whom you know. Subscribe for monthly magazines or journals of your area of interest. Try downloading E-books and read them. Try your hands in all the genres. It will help you improve your vocabulary and create a deep interest in the reading world!
1. Enjoy reading
Anything that’s done with joy always has a greater impact. Have fun while reading. Unless you find it interesting, you will never be able to master the skill. Be a passionate reader. Have the thirst to read more. There’s no limit in the availability of good books. It is an endless sea. Make sure you read at least one good content a day, it will automatically influence you to read more and enjoy even more! Share the joy of reading with your pals. Surround yourself with people who love to read. Reading introduces you to an entirely new world which you have never experienced before. Enjoy reading and enjoy the unlimited fun filled experience offered by the reading world!