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Reading Strategies

One of the best ways to learn anything is to read. You can gain both knowledge and understanding of our world by reading books, magazines, newspapers and Internet websites. I tell my students "the more you read, the more you succeed". I also believe that reading can lead to a big change in your life, if you read often. So, I tell my students that "reading is magic". I really believe that, so I have come up with some ideas to help my students read better. Try these ideas and see if they help you, too.

One idea is the "Twice Over" strategy. Instead of reading something one time very carefully, try reading it once very quickly. Just get the main ideas the first time. Then, if you think it is interesting or useful, you can read it a second time. You might find that you understand much more the second time, even if you don't use a dictionary or have a teacher to help you. Just reading something two times can help you. Another benefit is that you can save time. Many things that you read are not so important. After you read something once, you may decide that you do not need to read it again. Instead, you can spend your time reading something new.

Sometimes, when you are very busy, you can save even more time by using the "sandwich technique". Using this strategy, you only read the first and last paragraphs of an article or story (the bread), then decide if you want to read the "meat" in between. Very often, the first paragraph gives you most necessary background information and the last paragraph gives you the most important results. That is often all that you need.

My students often struggle with new words when they read. Sometimes it is good to get out a dictionary and look up every single word. If you have a good memory, then this technique can help you build your vocabulary quickly. If you are like most students, and like me, looking up every word leads to forgetting most of them! Another way to learn, then, is to try to understand the words by using the story to help you. For example, my students recently read an article about the desert. Students easily understood words such as "mirage" or "oasis" simply because they are related to the desert.

In order to read sentences and paragraphs faster, students need to practice reading word groups instead of reading each individual word. As an example, read the sentence below:

The Prime Minister arrived in the capital city yesterday afternoon.
Did you read all 10 words separately? A good reader would read that sentences as only three groups, like this:
1) The Prime Minister 2) arrived in the capital city 3) yesterday afternoon.
If you can train yourself to read this way, in groups, you will read much faster.

One last strategy for faster reading is to try "turning off your inner voice". Many people read while silently pronouncing each word, as if they are speaking. When you are first learning a language, this is very useful, because you then learn to say every word you read. However, as your English becomes more advanced, you should try to read without "sounding out" each word. That is not easy to do. As with reading words groups, it takes practice, but it is worth it, as you read faster and more fluently.

Kung Fu Kitty!

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