Reading is the ‘killer app’ for education, communication, and language acquisition in my opinion. It bridges gaps between cultures, connects us with history, and enhances our linguistic abilities.
In this post I share six crucial tips to enhance your reading skills, for language learning and in general.
My 6 Reading Strategies
1. Read A Lot
The first and most fundamental tip is to read a lot and across different genres and styles. As with most skills, practice makes perfect. Every act of reading increases your vocabulary, makes the relationship between the written word and meaning stronger, improves language proficiency, and even boosts your writing abilities in your native language. The more you read, the more you familiarize yourself with the nuances of a language.
2. Don’t Worry Too Much About Comprehension
The goal is to understand but your ability to understand will improve the more you read. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything you read in your target language. If you grasp 60-70% of the content, that’s still OK. Just keep reading. Reading should be a pleasure, not a chore filled with comprehension questions. As the great educator Rubem Alves once said:
There is a total incompatibility between the joy of reading, a vagabond experience, and the experience of reading in order to answer questions, and explain what you understood.
Focus on the journey of understanding, which will increase over time.
3. Pair Reading with Listening
Reading and listening are interconnected parts of language learning. They follow similar pathways in the brain but enter through different ‘ports’. Utilizing audio resources can give you a head start in understanding challenging texts. Tools like text-to-speech and language learning apps that offer audio and text together, such as LingQ, can significantly enhance this process.
4. Diversify Your Reading Formats and Genres
Vary your reading between digital and physical formats. Online resources offer advantages like immediate access to dictionaries and audio features, while paper books offer a traditional, undistracted immersive reading experience. Reading about the same topic from multiple sources can deepen your understanding and retention of the material.
5. Utilize Language Learning App Functionalities
Take advantage of the features offered by language learning apps. For instance, LingQ’s ‘Sentence View’ allows you to focus on challenging sentences, group words into phrases, and engage in exercises that reinforce your understanding. This approach combines both top-down (big picture) and bottom-up (detailed) learning methods.
6. Experiment with Listening Speeds
Lastly, experiment with different speeds while listening to audio content. This technique, inspired by Speechify creator Cliff Weitzman‘s approach to overcoming dyslexia, can improve your language processing skills. While you might understand less at higher speeds, it trains your brain to process information more efficiently, enhancing both your listening and reading abilities.
These six reading strategies are designed to boost your reading capabilities, whether you’re learning a new language or just looking to enhance your reading skills.
Remember, reading is not just about language acquisition; it’s a tool that enriches life in countless ways.
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