Effective Reading

Effective Reading

Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities.” —Ben Okri

Before the Industrial Revolution, only a small percentage of the population in many countries was considered literate. Classical Athens and the Islamic Caliphate are considered as having generally high literacy rates.

Dating back to the 4th Century, reading came around with the invention of writing. In antiquity, Latin clare legere (reading aloud) was the more common practice compared to legere tacite or legere sibi (reading silently), which was unusual.

While reading, especially during learning development, a conscious effort is required to make links, understand opinions, do research and apply what you have learned to your studies. However, sometimes people encounter difficulty when trying to recall certain topics they read about at one point. It is often quite frustrating when this happens.

We all read for a purpose, for example, you could be reading this article right now to help enhance your reading skills, or read through an itinerary for your coming trip. For documents such as the itinerary, we rarely need to interpret or analyse. We also read for entertainment, for example, reading a magazine on some juicy celebrity gossip (sensational news) just to be in the know and satisfy curiosity.

Read every day! It could be an online article, news item, a magazine, a book, the newspaper, etc. Stretch out to read things that are a little challenging too. Vary the difficulty, not just the subject matter.

One useful aid to reading effectively is to have a good dictionary at hand, it is one way to string meanings to texts and understanding what the context is about. It is important to note that a dictionary should not be relied upon too heavily at times, this is because some dictionaries do not take into account the context, and may cause you to not fully grasp the intended meaning the author is passing across.

Look for a subject that you have genuine interest in. Develop an interest towards something that is designated as relevant, this will help in getting what is required out of it. As you read, ask yourself questions such as: “Why did the author find this theme interesting or important?”, “How does what I am reading relate to what I already know about the topic?”

Reflect on what the text means to you and internalize the meaning. You may ask yourself questions such as: “What does the text make me think about?”, “How am I responding to this text?”, “What does this information mean to me?”.

Turn chapter titles and headings into questions. Go over the reading once more to maximise your learning experience. Pay attention to titles and headings as you cover any additional questions that come to mind; “Never Stop Dreaming”- why? “Learn to Master a New Language in a Month”- how?

Become a more active reader. Make notes, this will keep you more involved with what you are doing. It is different from taking notes which is just copying down what you have read. Note making means summarising or highlighting what you feel is important or relevant. Ask yourself. “Do I really need this information, if so, which bit?’’ ‘‘Will I ever use the notes? If so, when and for what purpose?’’