Regardless of the language, you can never run away from reading. Reading skills vary from person to person but being able to recognise text and comprehend its meaning and nuances is essential in our day-to-day. Understanding systems and engaging in simple discourse is part of our everyday lives. Without basic reading skills, you’d be left behind, and without basic comprehension skills, you’d find yourself in several misunderstandings that could’ve been avoided.
Why hone your reading skills?
Having reading skills, no matter how good it may be, is the basis of every language acquisition. Even for native English speakers, sometimes having basic reading skills may not be enough. Seeing as how every language has their difficulty levels, your reading skills need to also move up as you advance a level. For instance, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) don’t only test your reading skills. They will also test your writing, speaking and listening skills. Whilst they may seem separate, these skills all depend on each other. Good reading skill is almost synonymous to having excellent comprehension skills, and this is an essential skill to score on all of the other tests.
Of course, one way is to enrol in IELTS preparation classes. If you wish to hone your skills on your own, we’ve gathered the essential tips to make a great reader out of you.
Expand your vocabulary bank
In order to understand a wide range of materials, having an extensive vocabulary is crucial. Start by picking up a new word every week and incorporate it in your daily speech. Studies suggest that you need to repeat a new word 10-15 times to truly register it. By adding variations in your speech, it’ll make it easier for your brain to come up with the word in all sorts of situations.
This also means understanding the meaning of the word and its nuances. Some words may not be applicable in certain circumstances even if they suit the meaning. For example, hot and scorching are two adjectives that describe a very high temperature. However, scorching adds another level of intensity to the definition. If a hot day is 30 degrees, a scorching one is 40 degrees.
Developing vocabulary should be one of the important parts of improving your reading skills. You could also read practice passages as a mode of learning vocabulary.
Scanning and skimming
Another aspect of having excellent reading skills is to be able to read fast and you do this in two ways: scanning and skimming.
Scanning refers to the ability to find specific information quickly, without needing to understand the material given to you. Scanning uses keywords and organisational cues to pinpoint facts that are buried within long text passages. Scanning is especially useful when you’re studying.
Skimming involves reading rapidly to get a general overview of your material. Skimming will save you hours of reading. It is useful when you wish to get a basic understanding of the content, but know that when you skim, you’d be missing important points and certain nuanced explanations. This method is superb if you want to refresh your memory or when deciding to select a material to read on.
By honing on the art of scanning and skimming, you will automatically increase your reading speed. When dealing with a time limit, especially in the case of an exam, these skills are crucial.
Practice makes it perfect
Every language experiences atrophy when you hardly use it. The same goes for any skills. In order to not lose touch, you have to practice regularly. Read as much as you can and try practising both easy and challenging passages. Start by reading something that you have an interest in before moving to other subjects.
You don’t have to limit yourself to just reading. Listening to English materials such as podcasts or even as simple as speaking in English for an entire conversation also counts as practice! All of these avenues will help you improve your mastery and this will also naturally improve your reading skills.
Having a good grasp on a language will undoubtedly take time and practice. Unlike mathematics and sciences, languages are tricky subjects as there are no straightforward answers. It’s even harder when you are learning on your own. If you’re serious about improving your English skills, perhaps you should consider enrolling in English courses in Singapore. You are now prepared to smash all the questions in all your English exams!