Monday, July 31, 2006

Efficient reading

The following was a note I took about how to improve English reading.


Reading is an essential skill for study. Being active with more thoughts and practices is the way to improve reading ability. There is no shortcut for it.

To be an efficient reader, what to read (purpose) and how to read (method) should be determined before actually reading anything. The decision of what to read or what not to read may be risky, but it must be worthwhile because a man’s ability is limited while information is infinite.

Method of reading depends on purpose of reading. Purpose of reading varies person to person, time to time, so the reading method varies as well. But, good reading habits have a great deal in common.

Improving reading speed and comprehension

The best practices to improve reading speed and comprehension:
  1. To read serious publications (newspapers, magazines, novels and bibliographies)
  2. To be open to read more and widely.
  3. To read regularly (per day for newspaper, per week for magazine)
  4. To read at the right level and in right areas relevant to studies.
  5. Better not to read gossip or informal publications or columns.
  6. Not to believe any shortcut.
The benefits of the above best practices:
  1. To improve reading speed and comprehension.
  2. To accustom in reading in wide, different areas.
  3. To learn professional writing skills.
  4. To extend vocabulary and feeling of the structures of professional writing.
Reading for different purposes
  1. To evaluate a resource book -> Use the contents page or index.
  2. To locate specific information -> Skim.
  3. To understand and remember specific content -> Read slowly and deliberately.
  4. To enjoy words and descriptions -> Read more relevantly or picture a scene.
  5. To read creative literature -> Read the whole work
  6. To read for leisure or entertainment -> Follow the author or read as you like.
Getting started on your reading

Learn general information first, study specific knowledge second.

The best practices to understand the reading set for a course:
  1. To begin with general introduction and read slowly.
  2. To learn unfamiliar words with the dictionary, explain in your own words, and review them regularly.
  3. To keep asking questions yourself and write down the answers.
  4. To refer to any relevant lecture or tutorial notes, and gain an overview of the topic.
  5. To break the reading into small sections and make notes on one section at a time.
  6. To ask for helps when the language or style is too difficult to be understood.
Reading to find information
Reading for assignments

Guided by the text layout of a candidate book or article, a quick survey gains the general overview about the book or article. It is essential for choosing a book worthwhile to read further.

The following checklist gives the items recommended to check in order:
  1. Titles of book chapter or article, for learning the general meanings.
  2. Authors’ information, for understanding authors point of view.
  3. Contents page, for learning the overview, especially for authors’ emphasis.
  4. Index for checking particular topics.
  5. Subheadings, for indicating specific content.
  6. Abstract, summary or synopsis, for learning the overview.
  7. Illustrations, diagrams and graphs and their captions, for getting further clues.
  8. The first paragraph or so of each chapter, for previewing.
  9. The first sentences of each paragraph, for reviewing.
  10. Record the publication details of helpful readings and manage them well.
Reading to remember
Taking notes to help you to remember

The best practices to remember the information in your readings:
  1. To interpret new information in terms of what you already know.
  2. To connect new information with what you already know or similar things.
  3. To understand the new information is the way to remember it in mind.
  4. To explain what you learn in your own words is the way to understand it.
  5. To clearly write it out in your language is the way to explain it and review it.
  6. To note only essential points and core meanings, leave out others.
  7. To use diagrams, sketches and graphs to give a picture of the information.
  8. To learn the whole rather than in parts.
  9. To use different methods for learning the same information.
  10. To read your own notes and do self-test regularly.
  11. To practise using the information or discuss it with others and write about it.
  12. To make up your own examples to help you understand and remember.
The conclusion (The SQ3R reading method)

Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review are the five keys for efficient reading.


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