The ability to read is as important today as it ever was. Some people believe that the need for good basic skills has lessened as technology has improved, that television, with all its power and indeed its role in providing information, has reduced the need for reading. Certainly there are many people who don’t buy books for pleasure and enjoyment, and some who rarely read a newspaper or visit a library.In some ways this may not really matter. Being able to read fluently is very different from wanting to read at all. In so many aspects of our life we still need to read, a need technology cannot replace. Indeed, in some ways it makes it more essential. As more everyday activities become automated, so reading becomes more important.
As you become more confident in your reading, you can learn to apply a range of techniques in order to extract from texts the information you need. You need to understand that it is not necessary to read every word to obtain meaning from a text or to locate information. You need to practise the following techniques:
The four main types of reading techniques are the following:
* Intensive reading
Skimming is sometimes referred to as gist reading. Skimming may help in order to know what the text is about at its most basic level. You might typically do this with a magazine or newspaper and would help you mentally and quickly shortlist those articles which you might consider for a deeper read. You might typically skim to search for a name in a telephone directory. You can reach a speed count of even 700 words per minute if you train yourself well in this particular method. Comprehension is of course very low and understanding of overall content very superficial.
Picture yourself visiting a historical city, guide book in hand. You would most probably just scan the guide book to see which site you might want to visit. Scanning involves getting your eyes to quickly scuttle across sentence and is used to get just a simple piece of information. Interestingly, research has concluded that reading off a computer screen actually inhibits the pathways to effective scanning and thus, reading of paper is far more conducive to speedy comprehension of texts. Something students sometimes do not give enough importance to is illustrations. These should be included in your scanning. Special attention to the introduction and the conclusion should also be paid.
You need to have your aims clear in mind when undertaking intensive reading. Remember this is going to be far more time consuming than scanning or skimming. If you need to list the chronology of events in a long passage, you will need to read it intensively. This type of reading has indeed beneficial to language learners as it helps them understand vocabulary by deducing the meaning of words in context. It moreover, helps with retention of information for long periods of time and knowledge resulting from intensive reading persists in your long term memory. This is one reason why reading huge amounts of information just before an exam does not work very well. When students do this, they undertake neither type of reading process effectively, especially neglecting intensive reading. They may remember the answers in an exam but will likely forget everything soon afterwards.
Extensive reading involves reading for pleasure. Because there is an element of enjoyment in extensive reading it is unlikely that students will undertake extensive reading of a text they do not like. It also requires a fluid decoding and assimilation of the text and content in front of you. If the text is difficult and you stop every few minutes to figure out what is being said or to look up new words in the dictionary, you are breaking your concentration and diverting your thoughts
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Topic: Reading techniques
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