We all know that reading in a second language can be tricky. Why is this and what can you do about it so that you can become an effective reader?
Let’s first consider obstacles to effective reading. Are you reading something you enjoy? If you wouldn’t read it in your first language, then you certainly won’t want to read it in your second language! So choose something that you actually want to read to motivate yourself to do it more.
Another obstacle is feeling that you need to understand every single word. Well, you do NOT need to understand every word to read effectively. Effective reading is possibly as long as you can understand the important words in a text.
So, how can you be an effective reader? The answer to this depends on why you are reading. You might be reading just to get the gist of a text, in other words, to understand in general what the text is about. If you are reading for this reason, try skimming, which involves reading a text quickly to understand its main ideas, but not to grasp all the details. If you are reading for details, then you should try scanning. When you scan, you take a closer look at the text to find out more information about particular points of interest.
Another key to effective reading is the ability to read at a good speed. If you think you’re reading too slowly, give yourself a time limit when you read – and stick to it! If you don’t finish within your time limit the first time, don’t give up – with practice, you will improve!
It’s also a good idea to practice reading using shorter texts. Taking on a very long text can be daunting, and you might find that you give up reading it. So, read something shorter and more manageable – you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something when you’ve finished it, which will make you feel good and encourage you to read more.
Finally, to be an effective reader you, of course, need to understand what you read. A great way to check your understanding of what you’ve read is to write a summary of it after you’ve read it. If you can do this, then you have understood; if some parts are difficult to write, you can go back to your reading text again for clarification.
So, find something that you want to read, implement these ideas and you’ll be on the road to becoming an effective reader.
At Eurospeak we offer our Cambridge exam students real Cambridge reading material and authentic exam practice material for homework and in class.
We also have a class library scheme for General English classes, so that you can choose the book of your choice, at the correct CEFR Level, and return it once you have finished!
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