5 Reading Comprehension Strategies For Better Text Apprehension
It is nearly impossible to imagine a life without reading. Can you? We read for pleasure and we read to gain new knowledge and skills. However, it is often difficult to gain the full benefit of what we read. We either read too fast, lose focus and concentration, do not fully comprehend the meaning of the material or miss out on the ideas and suggestions an author wants to convey.
This tutorial will cover basic reading comprehension strategies anyone can learn in order to read books more efficiently and to increase speed in general. Before we dive in, let’s briefly look at the interaction between reading speed and comprehension and why it is tricky to increase both at the same time.
Reading Comprehension vs. Speed Reading
Even the most rudimentary online search will reveal that there is some controversy between the ability to read very fast and simultaneously fully comprehend the text in front of us. There are many advocates for speed reading and there are numerous websites and other resources that promise to teach you how to read much faster.
However, there are also those that say that it is no use to read at enviable speeds if comprehension is the sacrifice that must be made in order to master this skill. Below are three of the main topics of discussion on this matter.
What makes comprehension so difficult sometimes?
Reading comprehension is the ability to understand the text that you read, to see the context within which individual words and phrases are used and the ability to relate the new information that you read with other knowledge that you already have.
You may experience a problem with comprehension if your vocabulary is limited or if you are not familiar with the idiom of the language that you are reading. However, this is not a weakness it is rather an area you can work and focus on.
Focusing on speed or comprehension?
You may want to learn how to read faster in order to get though more material in a shorter time. At the same time, however, you want to understand the text that you read. Luckily this is not a matter of choosing between speed and comprehension.
The answer is to approach your training in a balanced manner. Slowly increase your reading speed, but at the same time, implement reading comprehension strategies. Do not get frustrated or discouraged if you do not experience immediate results. It will take time and some effort from your side. Your efforts will, however, be well rewarded!
Not all authors are created equal.
It is good to know that having trouble to understand a reading matter is not always a comprehension problem on your side. There are published authors ignoring the reader’s perspective thus making a text unnecessarily difficult to understand or read.
As a result, they might not be able to convey their meaning in their text or properly structure their material. In some cases authors might even have issues to logically develop an idea in full detail by discussing too many new concepts. Therefore, difficulties to comprehend what you read is not always your failure by default.
4 Open Secrets To Excellent Reading Comprehension
There are many tips, techniques and strategies that you can use to increase your reading comprehension. Let’s have a look what it is that people with exceptional reading comprehension skills have. This should help identify those strategies most suitable to achieve your studying and learning goals.
Vocabulary – They have an extensive vocabulary and they understand the rules of the English language. Not only do they understand the meaning of words but they can also differentiate between the many meanings that a word can have when used in different contexts.
Subtext – They are able to read between the lines and interpret the subtext. What authors do not say explicitly is often as important as the actual text.
Intonation – They can interpret the tone of the text and often even gain a better understanding by interpreting the use of punctuation within the text.
Awareness – They keep the subject matter of the text in mind at all times. Reading with the bigger picture in mind definitely improves comprehension.
Reading Comprehension Strategies – 5 Tips To Improve
Having read the four key points above it is obvious that anyone can improve its reading comprehension. Here are 5 basic strategies to get started. More resources are listed further below to encourage you to try other reading comprehension strategies.
1. Use meta-cognition strategies.
Meta-cognition sounds like something only people with degrees in rocket science will understand, but it is actually simply the art of “thinking about thinking”. The first step is to understand what it is that you do not understand. Once you know where your reading comprehension difficulty lies, you can act and apply strategies.
Read on to see if there are examples that will better explain the text causing you difficulty. Otherwise, go back and re-read the text preceding the difficult parts and make sure that you understand the text leading up to the difficult parts. Note, this should not be confused with regression (see bad reading habits)
2. Improve your language skills.
You will be amazed at how the skillful use of a semi-colon, for example, can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Improving your grammar will certainly improve your comprehension. The same holds true for improving your vocabulary. It is not only worth to just learn more words, but also learn the different ways and contexts those words can be used to convey utterly different meanings.
By the way: improving your language skills will certainly improve your comprehension. However, your self-confidence will also improve. You may become a better conversationalist and public speaker or will be able to make a much better first impression. This is definitely my favorite reading comprehension strategy.
Research Tip: Find a list with the most common and used pre- and suffixes. You will be surprised how often you can deduce the meaning of a word from a prefix.
3. Read with a pencil and paper.
When you summarize whilst reading, you are forcing yourself to test your own understanding of the text that you have just read. If you are unable to summarize, it probably means that you did not fully comprehend your reading matter. Learning how to use brain maps and other graphic summary techniques will definitely be a big advantage too. It may certainly sound a bit old-fashion but taking notes is still one of the most effective reading comprehension strategies recommended by teachers.
4. Ask questions and discuss your reading.
One of the very best ways in which to improve your reading comprehension is to ask yourself questions. Firstly, before you even start reading, ask yourself: “What am I going to read about and what do I expect to learn from my reading?” This will focus your thoughts.
A good tactic then is to occasionally stop reading and ask yourself: “What exactly is the meaning of what I have just read?” and “What is my opinion about the text I have just read?” When you finished a reading session, summarize it aloud to yourself. Even better, discuss your understanding of the text with others that have read the same text. This will quickly identify problem areas.
5. Be aware of problematic text.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when reading is to ignore difficult-to-understand text and to hope that you will better understand at a later stage. Well-written material develops new ideas and knowledge gradually, building upon the preceding text. If you fail to comprehend a specific concept, you will almost certainly struggle with the subsequent concepts. When you do not understand a phrase, word or concept, resolve that issue before continuing your reading.
Some Resources For Further Reading
There are plenty of websites that offer valuable information about almost every aspect of reading and comprehension. Here are a few sites that may help you to further improve your own reading comprehension.
Reading Comprehension Strategies – Conclusion
Most people take the ability to read for granted. Unfortunately, so many people simply do not enjoy all the benefits of reading because they do not have the skills to fully comprehend the material that they read. This is true even for those that exclusively read fiction.
Poor comprehension means that you will not grasp the finer nuances of the text, the hidden meanings and the sly tricks good authors use to enhance the entire experience of reading. Implementing reading comprehension strategies to enhance and improve your apprehension and understanding is an investment that you will never regret.
6 Strategies to try
- Try meta-cognition strategies.
- Improve your language skills and vocabulary.
- Take notes and use pencil and paper.
- Ask questions and discuss your reading.
- Be aware of problematic text and slow down.
- Apply speed reading techniques, e.g. hand pacing, skimming, word chunking.
- Enroll in a reading improvement class.
I hope you liked this tutorial and will try some of the tips mentioned above. Feel free to suggest your own or maybe even modified reading comprehension strategies in the comments section below.
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