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Reading Strategies to Get the Most Out of Any Text!

Reading Strategies to Get the Most Out of Any Text!

Reading Strategies to Help You Get the Most Out of Any Text!

First, we learn how to read, and then we read in order to learn. The understanding of the written text is of utmost importance in today’s world. Unfortunately, we learned this skill back when we were in school, and most of us don’t remember how we did it. But over time, we have lost the ability to get the most out of a piece of writing. In order to explore the wondrous world of books, we must continue polishing this skill of ours, and one way of doing that is honing some excellent reading strategies

If you learn a new language and try to read some text in it, you will quickly realize how tough it is to interpret it. As adults, we no longer have a flexible childhood brain, and it can be tricky to understand things now, given that we are always in a hurry to finish a task. And this is not limited to second languages – even in your mother tongue, try to read a research paper and see how much you understand. 

However, giving up on reading altogether is not an option, and the only way to boost your comprehension skills is to learn some reading strategies. Fortunately, there are some tricks that can help you tackle an unknown text. People of all ages can use these pointers as they are not very complicated. 

Here is a list of the strategies that will improve your understanding of the text:

Reading Comprehension Strategies

1. Extracting Information

The process of extracting information from what you read is the goal of reading comprehension strategies. There are several tips and tricks which you can use to do it efficiently. Some of them are using prior knowledge, questioning yourself, identifying the key, visualizing, and summarizing. However, teaching these practices to young children can be complicated. 

To ease them into this, you can use graphic organizers. These are visual tools that help kids break down stories and nonfiction texts. They have to fill these organizers while reading comprehension essays, and it will certainly help them keep track of their thoughts. You can download some of these organizers here.

Reading Strategies to Get the Most Out of Any Text!
Reading Strategies to Get the Most Out of Any Text!

2. Ear Reading Strategies

Ear reading is an elementary and effective program. This method is used by primary-teachers all over the world to help students read, but you can employ it as an adult too. 

All you need to do is read a book while listening to the audio. In a couple of weeks, you will see significant improvement in your understanding of the text. Not only will this increase your reading speed, but listening to native speakers speaking their language will also improve your pronunciation. However, for this method to work efficiently, you need to pay attention when you listen. In fact, research has indicated that there are several benefits of listening to audiobooks, compared to traditional reading.

If this approach is entirely new for you, you can start with audiobooks for children. Unlike other books, they will have short stories and comprehensions that are easy to understand and follow. It will help you transition to reading more complex texts over time. 

3. Partner Reading

We have all experienced partner reading at some point during our school years. If you are not familiar with this phrase, it merely means taking turns to read a text aloud. It is usually done in small groups by students who are changed from time to time. After the reading session, the students take turns answering questions from their peers, if any. 

This technique will help you eliminate the fear of the crowd while also improving your reading capability. There are numerous advantages to reading with a partner. 

For this method to work, you should try to find a partner whom you are comfortable reading with. Otherwise, you will be too nervous focusing on the text.

4. Reread and Speak

Rereading is as simple as it sounds; you do not need anything other than your own self. That is perhaps the biggest advantage of this technique – that you can commit to it and practice it by yourself, without the need of another person or any other tools. 

If you have ever learned a new language and sat in a language class, you must have noticed that even an instructor of the language will read a text multiple times to understand it completely. The same principle applies to this reading technique which simply involves reading a paragraph multiple times until you understand it. Also, when you read a text for the first time, underline the words which you do not know with a pencil. This way, when you reread the text, you can concentrate more on these keywords. 

If you lack concentration, try to speak while you are reading. This will improve your focus as well as pronunciation. This technique is very useful in helping struggling readers become faster at reading. Even if you read correctly, speaking while reading will polish your reading skills.

5. Master The Language

This one is a no-brainer. Whatever language you are reading in, master its rules. Once you have a hold on the grammar of a particular language, the next step is to learn the vocabulary. Understanding the sentence structure and common prepositions are also very important. After that, read some idioms and catchphrases of the language to have some additional insight. 

Once you have complete mastery over all these topics, start reading some books. You will be amazed at how quickly you grasp things when you know the ins and outs of a language. While reading, you can also have a dictionary by your side for new words and memorize them. 

To further improve your reading skills, you can use facial expressions, try to maintain a steady pace, and practice increased emphasis on punctuation, etc. 

6. Know What You Are Reading and Why You Are Reading It 

Before you start reading any kind of text or article, you need to understand why you are reading the text in the first place. To do that, ask yourself these three questions: 

What is the purpose of the text that you are reading? For instance, if it is an academic text, the purpose of the author may be to inform the reader or explain a particular topic. If it is a blog or article on the internet, the purpose may be to entertain the audience or to persuade them towards a particular position. 

How useful is the text? This means that you have to ask yourself whether the text is relevant to what you are doing or what your needs are, whether it is accurate and current or if it is not worth reading. 

Why are you reading the text? What is your purpose for reading it? Are you reading it for a college essay or purpose, or simply for entertainment?

The answers to these questions will help you not only decide what to read, but also figure out the best strategy for reading the text. For instance, if you are reading a paper for a college essay, then you might want to employ close reading strategies, whereas if you are just reading an internet article, you can simply skim read. 

Therefore it is helpful to prepare yourself for reading and taking a few minutes to figure out why you are reading something. 

7. Identify Key Information

If you have decided that you don’t need to read something from end to end, and you need to extract only the basic ideas of a particular topic, then you can focus on the key information. 

You can use a pre-reading strategy for this type of reading. Pre-reading has been explained later in this article. It will involve reading the chapter headings, summaries, and abstracts. To identify key information, you also need to know what kind of article or text it is that you are reading. 

For instance, news articles usually have their summary within the first few lines and then the rest of the article usually focuses on more details. In such cases, you can read the first paragraph in detail and then skim-read the rest of it. 

But in an opinion article, the most important information is contained in the introduction paragraph as well as the summary. You can find the supporting arguments for the opinion in the middle of the article. Therefore when you have finished reading the beginning and the end, you can decide how much of the middle part you need to read. 

8. Increase Your Understanding Using Supporting Details

If you need more than just a basic understanding of a particular text, you can do more than just read the introduction and summaries. You will need to explore it in some depth, but that’s not all. 

You can also use supporting details like diagrams, charts, and graphs that explain the ideas inside the text. Also, you can make notes or highlight important words and phrases so that you understand the depth of the text when you come back to it. 

9. Recall and Review

When you need to get the most out of a text, like when you want to remember it for an exam or teach a particular topic, you will need to consider deep reading the text. 

This means that once you have pre-read the text using headings, subheadings, and key questions, you have to read the text thoroughly, make annotations and notes in the margins, and then you have to recall and review the text. 

This technique not only helps in understanding the text in a holistic manner, but it also increases your chances of remembering the key points. To enhance your recall of the most significant points, you can also make detailed notes while you are reading. 

The most important thing to remember here is to employ active reading techniques which are discussed later in this article. You will also need to highlight and underline the important parts, and write them down in your own words. If possible you should also try to talk to others about what you have read to increase your comprehension even more. Not only that, but you can also use graphic organizers like flow charts tables and tree diagrams to compile the information in a way that may be easy for you to remember. 

10. Controlling The Environment You Read In

Most people tend to ignore this particular aspect of reading. If you want to give yourself the best chance of reading effectively, you have to think about where you are reading and when you are reading too. 

For instance, just before you go to sleep and when you are already in your bed, you can read for pleasure or entertainment, because this will help relax your mind. But it is definitely not the best time to conduct an in-depth study of a particular topic. 

You should schedule the most difficult reading tasks when your brain is awake and in its best state. Whether this time is the morning for you or sometime during the evening, you can decide for yourself. 

You should also make sure that the environment that you are reading in is comfortable, but not so comfortable that you might fall asleep. You should find a place in your house or office that is quiet and free of distractions but also has optimum seating, temperature, and lighting that will help you focus on the text. 

You can also work out various ways that can help you comprehend the narrative of the text in a better way. For instance, many people use story maps and graphic organizers to help them retain the information after reading a particular article. Story maps can help you remember the details of a particular novel like the setting, characters, theme, and plot, etc. 

Here is an interesting video for students who want to study smartly using these reading strategies –

10 Active Reading Strategies – Study Less Study Smart

Reading Strategies To Help Understand Difficult Texts

Language is evolving day by day; new words are being added to the dictionary this very moment, so one can never master a language completely. What we can do is evolve together with the language, and it is very simple to do so – never stop reading. Be curious, and keep looking for solutions for your reading problems.

Here are the 3 most important reading strategies you can use to get the most out of any complex text:

  1. Close reading
  2. Active reading
  3. Pre-reading

Let’s take a look at them in detail.

What Is Close Reading?

Close reading refers to a thoughtful reading of a particular piece of text that is disciplined. It is also known as close analysis.

If you are planning to write on a particular subject, whether it is blogs, stories, or articles on the internet, or if it is a paper for a class, you will need to start with a close reading of the topic. This is because a close reading of a text is essential for understanding the facts and details of the text.

There are two parts that close reading requires:

1. Observation

Close reading allows you to focus on a particular passage, or the text including all its details and in its entirety. You can underline the important parts of the text work, what its cultural references are, or what are its structural elements.

Close reading also allows you to notice the following:

  • Opposing points of view
  • Correspondences
  • Rhetorical elements
  • Historical features

…and more.

But that’s not the end of the close reading process. The second step is interpreting.

2. Interpretation of the text

This part involves making sense of your observations.

It involves inductive reasoning. This means taking the observations, facts, and details that you observed above, and using them to arrive at a conclusion or interpretation.

Basically, inductive reasoning refers to gathering the data and thinking about what this data means collectively. A close reader has to develop this ability, to become better at understanding the facts and details of difficult texts.

Close Reading Strategies

Close reading basically involves 3 steps. Here are some close reading instructions:

1. Read with a pencil in your hand and annotate the text or whatever you are reading

Annotation essentially means that you should underline or highlight any keywords and phrases that you may think are important. They may be something that changes the direction of the topic or raises any questions. Meanwhile, you should also take notes in the margins.

When you tackle any kind of text in this way, you are forcing yourself to pay close attention to whatever you are reading. Not only that, but you have also started to think about the text in the way the author intended.

These trends may be repetitions, similarities, or contradictions. They can help you understand the metaphor that the author is working towards, or his point of view, or any other symbols that can mean something significant.

Specifically, you should ask how and why questions, because they can help you understand the intentional meaning of the author as well as what the implications and insinuations of the text are.

The Benefits of Close Reading

1.  Close reading helps us develop interpretations and discussions of text that are not superficial. Specifically, our understanding of the text becomes more grounded and comprehensive.

For example, for students of literature, it is not enough to get a broad understanding that Hamlet is unhappy. They need to understand the specific reasons why he is unhappy in order to develop a better interpretation of the text.

Close reading allows us to take in a specific and comprehensive understanding of even the most difficult parts of a text.

2.  Close reading allows us to understand text that may not be as simple as per our understanding. This is especially helpful for students about to attend college because college often requires reading of demanding text and for students to do it alone.

Close reading can help them understand even the most difficult text without having to discuss it with their peers. In the long run, they will not be intimidated by difficult text. Their horizons will expand and they will learn how to stretch beyond their comfort zone.

3. Close reading also helps in teaching students how to develop a sense of the language. They learn how to develop the rhythm and structure as well as also develop a far better understanding of how the syntax of a language works.

What is Active Reading?

Active reading refers to reading something with a singular goal in mind. This goal can be anything, but active reading involves evaluating the text to see if it meets your specific needs.

In such cases, you will have to do more than reading and reread. Simply reading, again and again, won’t serve your purpose for reading. You will not understand the text properly, nor will you learn whether or not it is going to meet your needs. You will need to read actively and critically engage with the content.

Active reading, when done in the right way, can really help you save time. You will not have to reread a text over and over again. It involves using cues like in-text questions and self-assessment questions, text-dependent questions, etc., to ensure that you are reading actively.

Active Reading Strategies

Here are some techniques you can use to engage in active reading:

  • Highlight or underline any keywords that you think may be relevant to your needs. As you read, keep doing this. When you return to the text later on, whether it is long or short texts, you can check the point that you thought might be important.

    However, when you are using this technique, make sure you are judging the importance of texts correctly. If you highlight too much of the text, it will not be helpful.
  • Make annotations on the margins. These annotations can involve a summary of certain points, raise any questions you might have, or even challenge whatever is written. You can even write down your own examples here.

    This can be done in printed textbooks, as well as etexts. This type of strategy will take up more time than highlighting parts of the text, but it also means that you will understand and remember the text for a longer period of time.

    If there is no space for making these small notes, you can use sticky notes.
  • Read critically by questioning the text. Who wrote the text? Why? When was it written? What is the intended audience of the text? Can you link this part of the text to any part of the subject or module? Is it part of a bigger part, or is it a standalone portion?
  • Identify new words in the text

    Most of us have the habit of ignoring any new word in the text that we don’t already know. Sometimes, we don’t even realize when we are doing this.

    Next time when you are reading a part of the text, you should underline the words you don’t know and write their meaning in the margins. You can revisit these words later and expand your vocabulary.
  • Searching the main idea or thesis of the text

    In difficult texts, you won’t be able to find the main idea in the title or the first sentence of the text. You may have to even search the text thoroughly for it.

    Finding the main idea is extremely important for complete reading comprehension of the text. You will need to practice doing this if you want to find some article that serves your needs.
  • Test yourself

    Once you have finished reading the text, you should put it away for a while and then write down what you remember from the text. After that, you can go back to it and fill any gaps in your memory.
  • Find the signposts

    This refers to words like “most importantly,” “on the other hand,” and “in contrast,” etc. that can help you understand the intent of the text in a better way.

What is Pre Reading?

Pre-reading any type of text involves skimming it to find any specific ideas before you commit to reading the whole text from beginning to end. This type of reading is also known as surveying or previewing, and requires students to skim the text before fully committing to it.

Pre-reading is aimed at getting an overview of the article or topic while reading in a speedy and efficient manner. It involves, usually, looking at the titles and chapter introductions, as well as the headings and subheadings, table of content, questions, and conclusions at the end of the topic.

Pre-reading can help students to read and understand the material in a more holistic manner than they would if they were only reading it from end to end. This is because you already have a tentative framework of what you are about to read, and whenever you will come across something new or different detail, you will be able to remember it for much longer.

It can also help them in drawing conclusions that are symmetrical with the intent of the author.

Pre Reading Strategies?

Pre-reading involves 4 Ps – preview, predict, prior knowledge, and purpose

•    Preview – this refers to taking a quick look at the text before you start reading. This will help you get the gist of the matter in a quick way before you spend any time in understanding the matter in depth.

•    Predict – this involves looking at the clues in the headings and subheadings, and try to figure out what you already know in the text. Once you have done that, you can predict which parts of the text you need to read more thoroughly, and which ones you can speed read.

•    Prior knowledge – this refers to the fact that you should have a clear understanding of the basics of a particular text before you start reading about it in depth. This will help you understand the text in a more deep, meaningful, and holistic way.

•    Purpose – this refers to the fact that you need to find out what the purpose of the author is for writing the text. This will help you understand what you have read beyond the superficial manner.

How To Skim or Pre-read A Book Effectively?

Skimming or pre-reading a book refers to inspecting the book and determining whether or not it is of interest to you. Your main aim here is to find out if the book requires any deep reading or not.

You can develop the habit of pre-reading very quickly. Here is how you can skim read a book in a systematic and effective manner:

  1. Read the title page of the book, as well its preface, if it has one. Read them quickly. 
  2. Check the table of content of the book to get a general idea about the structure of the book. You can also use the table of content as a road map before you take a deep dive, and find out which topics interest you the most in that particular book. 
  3. Check the index of the book. Most books have one. Find out what is the range of topics that are covered in the book, and what types of books and authors have been referenced. Here, again, you can find out what the most interesting topics and chapters for you are. 
  4. If the book is a new one and has reviews from other authors or newspapers, check them out. You can also read the blurb by the publisher. 
  5. Your knowledge about the book is now general and vague, but not completely zero. Now check the chapters in the book, and find out which ones support the most important argument in the book. You can do this by reading the summary of the chapters in the book, their opening pages, their conclusions and ending pages, etc. Most books have these pages separate, and you should read them carefully. 
  6. Lastly, read the book by turning the pages here and there, checking out a particular paragraph or some sentences on a page. You can also read two paragraphs at times, and sometimes you may end up reading several pages at a time, but do not commit to any more than that. 

When you read a book in this manner, that is, after building a rough picture of it before reading it fully, you have the correct framework for the book in place. Eventually, you will end up grasping more information than you would have if you had read the bookend to end.

Reading Strategies Books

Here are some book suggestions to develop Reading Strategies –

1. “The Reading Strategies Book : Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers” by Jennifer Serravallo

Closing Thoughts

The importance of learning to read efficiently is immense. It may or may not be useful to you, but might have to teach reading to someone in the future. You will be the first teacher of your kids, so you must master this art.

Language is evolving day by day; new words are being added to the dictionary this very moment, so one can never master a language completely. What we can do is evolve together with the language, and it is very simple to do so – never stop reading. Be curious, and keep looking for solutions for your reading problems. 

There is a new possibility in every article, every book, every research paper you read. You will learn something new every day about this world of ours; all you need to do is continue to read!