Ways to Improve Students Reading Skills
One major factor that will determine your success in school or at a job is your ability to read, comprehend and retain information. The recent years have seen professional educators decrying the declining level of literacy occurring at a terrifying rate on a global scale. This unfortunate decline has been attributed to the lack of encouragement towards a reading culture. However, in actual sense, people (irrespective of their ages) are having problems with reading. Therefore, it is safe to say that literacy levels are dropping not because people are not reading, but because folks are finding it difficult to read efficiently.
The traditional and most cliché advice that people get when it comes to improving their reading skills is for them to develop their cognitive strategies. This means, in simple layman terms, when they are reading, people should focus more and keep an open, curious and analytical mind. By so doing, they get to ask themselves questions that will test their comprehension level as they read. In summary, they are advised to be self-conscious whenever they are involved in the act of reading. There are other more unconventional suggestions towards improving reading skills. They include; staying away from music, reading in a quiet room and avoiding distractions when reading, etc. While all these set of rules might work for some people, I do not quite agree that it will work for everybody. We are complex beings with different genetic makeup. The fact that my neighbor can’t read with music does not mean I can’t or shouldn’t. Also, some people lack analytical skills and a lot of people gets distracted when they ask themselves too many questions whilst reading.
With that been said, I have listed out some top 5 ways to improve your reading ability without necessarily subjecting yourself to conditions that you are not comfortable with. So without wasting any more time, let’s dive in, shall we?!!
Read about things that interest you
The purpose of reading goes beyond just skimming through some bunch of alphanumeric symbols that make up words and sentences. For efficient reading, you need to be able to comprehend and understand what you are reading. If you are reading a subject that does not interest you, being self-conscious will not guarantee understanding. On the other hand, if you are interest in whatever you are reading about, the words will come alive and you will be motivated to better assimilate the words. The topic of interest is such that the more you read things that are in your line of interest, the better you get at assimilating and comprehending what you have read. For example, if you are someone that has an interest in tech and you are reading a book on finances, you might find it difficult to read efficiently unless of course, you have an interest in finances.
There are cases where you have to read things that are of no interest to you, probably to pass an exam. In this case, all you have to do is to change your direction of interest. For example, it will be in your best interest to pass the exam. So read because you are interested in passing the exam. That should get you through those pages in one piece.
Read at your own pace
Every subject matter has a beginner level. Most people prefer to skip these fundamentals and jump into the big stuff. It only serves to make things more difficult for you. Ensure that you read materials that are suitable for your level. It does not have to be super easy, but it shouldn’t be super difficult to understand. The idea of reading at your own pace is mostly applicable to people in scientific fields as it is requires that you know the basics of any idea first before moving on to the big stuff. For instance, a student that does not understand the basic gas and energy laws will definitely find it difficult to understand books on thermodynamics; in fact, he will find it almost impossible to understand thermodynamics. If you do not understand what you are reading because it is too complex, you might want to consider doing a revision of the fundamentals of the topic in order to better understand what you are reading. Personally, when I run into words and concepts that I do not understand, I make sure I find out their meanings before I continue reading. You should also note that comprehension abilities differ with people. That your peers can finish a subject matter in two hours does not mean you can do the same. Ensure that you know the type of reader that you are.
Read in depth
Like I said earlier, I tend to take my time to find out the meaning of new words and concepts whenever I run into them. The internet has made in-depth reading easy as you can virtually search anything in a few clicks. If you are familiar with the subject that you find yourself reading about, chances are you will tend to understand it better. However, if the subject is new to you, ensure that you have a number of materials and articles about the subject at your disposal. In-depth reading does not just help you understand better, it helps you read wide and you get to know more than what is available in a particular material. If you are a student that does in-depth reading and you are eventually given an exam to test your level of comprehension, there is a very high possibility that you will pass with flying colors.
Use your imagination
Good readers ensure that their imagination is triggered by whatever they are reading and most of them do it unconsciously. Utilizing your imagination is a good way to actually enjoy what you are reading without spending much time analyzing and asking too many questions. When you use your imagination, you are in the present; you do not need to predict or over-analyze passages. A perfect illustration to buttress this point is seen by studying how children read books. It is said that children learn more by imagination and it helps them maintain focus on whatever they find interesting. Be childlike when reading and let set your imagination free.
You don’t have to understand everything
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to read a particular passage over and over again simply because you don’t understand it? Well, I have. While it is expedient that you understand whatever you are reading, sometimes you don’t need to understand everything as you read. For example, you might be reading a particular subject matter with over 10 paragraphs and are finding it difficult to understand the last sentence in the 3rd paragraph; which means you are stuck in place. When situations like this happen, you don’t have to be discouraged. From personal experience, I have found out that understanding other paragraphs might throw more light on the sticky sentence or phrase or paragraph. Also, the habit of having to read a particular subject matter over and over again to enhance better understanding and comprehension is not a healthy one. If you have read a subject matter twice and you do not understand it, it is advisable that you ask someone with considerable knowledge or expertise in that area to explain it to you. You can also do your own subject research in order to understand it better. But whatever you do, remember this; it is not compulsory that you understand everything that you read.
I would have loved to conclude with a reminder that you should always read for pleasure. But then, the reading of academic materials might be anything but pleasurable. So here is my final advice; when you are reading for school work, ensure that you take notes, underline the major points and read some important parts over and over again. This will eliminate the need of having to read bulky materials over again when you are preparing for exams. However, if you have by all means developed the habit of reading for pleasure, you will find out that all the traditional cognitive techniques will come to you naturally depending on the kind of reader you are. Cognitive abilities are important, but you don’t have to force yourself to learn them when you can develop them simply by reading. So what are you waiting for? Pick up that book already!!!