Many people mistake the skill of reading as just a minor and basic skill compared to that of writing. Unfortunately, reading requires a high level of cognitive skills needed for a person to comprehend and analyze the context and meaning of texts. In other words, your brain has to sort out through all the words on a piece of text to get the one entire picture. This may seem difficult, but here are some tips that may help you improve your reading comprehension skills.
Brush-up on Vocabulary
You’ll probably hear this again and again during your language learning journey, and you’ll hear it again and again as you practice. Knowing a wide range of vocabulary will help you understand meanings of sentences better. Because each vocabulary word has a specific meaning, its use or the use of its synonyms in sentences and expressions create different meanings.
Get a Clue with Context Clues
While building your vocabulary, we don’t expect you to memorize all the words in the dictionary. Instead you should know enough so that when you get stuck while reading because you don’t know the meaning of a certain word, you try to get the meaning using context clues. Context clues can be in the form of synonyms and antonyms, examples, or the definition in layman’s terms.
Get Familiar with Figurative Language
Figurative language are different forms of literary and rhetorical devices used in writing in order to get the appeal of the reader. They come in these 20 forms: similes, metaphors, personifications, onomatopoeias, oxymorons, hyperboles, allusions, idioms, imageries, symbolisms, alliterations, assonances, consonances, metonymies, synecdoche, irony, sarcasm, litotes, puns, anaphora, tautology, and understatements. These help create images in your mind and help you feel as if you’re included in the text.
Learn to Read as a Whole
Reading is not a word-for-word comprehension skill. It requires that you understand the context or meaning of all the entire sentence, paragraph, or essay. Knowing the meaning of each word in won’t get you the message of the writer. Here are examples from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Having, in consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, [she] was always impatient for display.
At first glance, you may think that the girl is just boring and likes to watch things. If you understand it as a whole, you’ll find that the girl is actually an overachiever because what she lacked in beauty she compensated with her talents and intelligence.
Practice Skimming and Scanning
Skimming and scanning are actually speed-reading techniques helpful for you if you’ll take a language exam. However, these techniques also help you re-read texts if you don’t understand them at first. Skimming and scanning require you to only look for key words and phrases to understand what you’re looking for. If at first you don’t understand the paragraph, go through it again, but don’t go through word for word.
These tips may help you get better in reading comprehension. But, just reading, even just for fun, is a good way to start improving your reading skills. It’s also a sure way to help in your language learning journey.