Improving Your Skills

Reading


The ability to understand and remember reading material is important for success in school and everyday life. This is especially true for language comprehension. In learning a language, reading skills are best sharpened through actual reading practice. That means you need to be a willing and active reader for it to do any good. Ideally look for reading material covering topics you find interesting. As an example, I like to read about photography and travel. Before I begin reading about these topics, I'll ask myself what I already know about them. I try to recall as much information as I can. This way, I have an idea of what to look for, thus making it easier to spot the things I need to learn about photography or travel in the language I'm learning.

Now, when you do find some text to read, do not just go over the words as if trying out your pronunciation. Ask yourself, "Do I understand what I'm reading? What or who is this text about? What are the main points in it?". Take notes, make a list of unfamiliar words. You may be glad to know that some languages have hundreds of words borrowed from English, or English has borrowed words from other languages that can be understood immediately. You will be able to make out some of the words and to guess some of the others. Look out for the names of people and places and for loan-words from your own language as these tend to be relatively easy to spot and decipher

At first you'll probably find that you have to sound out letters individually before you can decipher the words. Eventually you will be able to recognize words by their shapes and sound out the letters of unfamiliar words. You probably went through the same process when learning to read your native language. So try reading aloud whatever material you get hold of. Even if you don't know all the letters or symbols. Guess the meanings of any words you don't know by paying attention to the context of the story or article you're reading. If you're still stuck, check them in a dictionary to see if your guesses were correct. You don't have to look up every unfamiliar word as long as you can get the gist of the text.

Try Comic Books Or Children's Stories

Reading comic books is an effective and fun way to improve your reading comprehension and vocabulary. The pictures help you to follow the story when you can't understand all of the dialogue. It's also a great way to learn about current pop culture, idioms and slang.

Reading Online

You can go just about anywhere and find a website in a foreign language. But for some specific sites, here's a few I like to visit:

NEWSPAPERS:
    http://www.onlinenewspapers.com

WORLD NEWS
    BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/languages/index.shtml
    Voice of America (VOA): http://www.voanews.com/english/news