How to polish Reading skills

G’day, how are ya doing mate? Today, I am going to talk about how to polish reading skills. In fact, reading and writing are much harder to be developed rapidly as so much effort is needed compared to listening and speaking. Some people reckon the opposite, but normally and linguistically reading is not that easy. You’ve got to have a proper way of developing your reading skills. Let’s discuss the way in which reading skills will be built up properly.

First up, it is necessary to discipline yourself in “Reading by ear”

What does “Reading by ear” mean? It means that when you are reading articles, you tend to rely on phonological mediation. That is, you are comprehending as you read English sentences aloud. So, you are getting the hang of what the article is about by like listening to the sound and syllabus of what you are saying. But, if you do subvocalise the article, letter recognition tends to be much quicker than normal read aloud. Reading aloud is slightly slower, presumably, due largely to articulatory reasons, such as the precision of pronunciation.

The downside of “Reading by ear” is the necessity of decoding the sentences phonologically. Wherefore, if you cannot enunciate a word, it’s hardly comprehend and decode the meaning of the word, as a result of which you’d encounter a very complex matter such as absorbing orthographical representation of a word in your brain, simultaneously retrieving the meaning of the word. That’s exactly what new babies are learning to read by ear. Thus, for non-native English speakers like me should learn “Reading by ear” first, so it’s important to understand all pronunciation patterns, and the way they should be sounded out phonologically. This helps develop your reading skills enormously. Phonic and phonological step is an essential feature of laying the foundation of Reading skills.

Next, “Reading by eye” will be needed to develop your reading skills

After having sufficiently equiped you with the sense of “Reading by ear”, your eyes help increase the speed of your reading and thoroughly comprehend what articles are about. To this end, you should’ve have enough graphological and semantic knowledge. That is, how to be typed or written, and immediately understand what sort of sentence structure they should be. So, your knowledge of the English language and general experience assists you in identifying critical letters and words.

If you are already reading books by “Reading by eye” without having sufficiently equiped you with the sense of “Reading by ear”, then you are presumably going to find it difficult to understand the content of what you are reading quickly. You might be struggling to read the aloud due to lack of practising pronunciation or understanding phonological aspects. So, first and foremost, refining pronunciation is critical to the process of developing your reading skills, actually. Someone reckons that you can read and understand English sentences in defiance of learning correct pronunciation, which is technically possible, but the thing is you won’t be able to write and speak in a natural tone and formality.

Third, you can read and understand English sentences much more easily if you can predict the meanings of unknown or new words within a book

It’s very important to predict the meanings of unknown or new words without a heavy supervision of an English-English dictionary. Although English dictionary helps a lot when it comes to English learning, you should use your prior knowledge about etymology like prefix, suffix and word roots during reading. Separately you can read English dictionary for your reference. But, overdepedence upon dictionary will adversely affect your reading training. Just try to minimise the use of it at least. Ideally, if you’ve known a lot of prexies and suffixes as well as word roots, then you should be Apples mate. So, if you think having not enough vocabularies or etymological knowledge, then here is a good start of your learning process:

This website is one of my recommended etymology dictionaries. All info is written in English but it’s so useful for boosting the knowledge of word roots. After having understood mostly, you should jump into reading without dictionary and predict any unknown word using your etymological knowledge you’ve acquired here.

Last but not least, “skimming” and “scanning” skills are crucially important for boosting your reading skills

To practise these methods for reading, it is prerequisite for you to be able to read English articles intensively. Otherwise, practising these methods without having a full understanding of grammar rules and meanings of words is nonsense. If you lack grammar and etymological knowledge as well as the precision of pronunciation, then you should go back to the basics first, and then come back here. It will make your English learning journey so much easier and faster than you imagine. Don’t jump the gun!!

Anyway, so if you’ve accomplished the basics, then’ll you read articles intensively. And, finally you’ll learn how to skim and scan the articles. Skimming is like getting a big picture of what the article is about, yet how am I gonna do? Your rapid eye movements are going on, for instance, it’s like you read an introductory para first, and then a concluding para to get the gist of what the article is talking about. If you don’t quite get it, then you quickly skim a first sentence (thesis statement) each body para.

What about Scanning? Scanning is like reading more details of what the article is talking about. For instance, when you are skimming, you probably found some keywords to catch the main point. Using keywords, you should scan each keyword in the article, and read the whole sentence quickly. That’s the way it is.

To recapitulate what I’ve said today, Reading skills need to be developed in a proper way by “Reading by ear” like a child in the initial stages, followed by “Reading eye” like practising more adult way reading, which needs to have several exposures to the same word for getting accustomed to new vocabularies as well as sentence structures within an article. And, predicting unknown or new words and skimming/scanning skills are critical to boosting your reading skills.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any further query. I want to hear some feedback from you guys in respect of what I’ve explained today.

Have a good one!

Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I've been teaching the PTE exam for the last 2 years or so, now mainly general English online.

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