We all live in a world where knowing how to read and write fluently is crucial – both for work and pleasure. So for those still struggling with reading comprehension, the feeling can be overwhelming.
However, improving your reading comprehension does not have to be a difficult process.
In fact there are ways you can make it not only relatively easy, but downright fun too.
In this article, I will show you 8 simple ways to improve your reading comprehension skills by making subtle changes to how, where and what you read.
Find a quiet place to read
As a fun activity, reading can be indulged in almost anywhere – at your home, office, in the park or even when you’re in bed.
But if you’re reading to improve your comprehension – you need to cut out all the other distractions – so that you can focus and study.
Ideally you need to devote atleast 30-45 minutes every day on focused reading, preferably in a quiet, comfortable place where you are unlikely to be disturbed.
And yes, do remember to switch off your phone or at the very least put it on silent mode.
Simply put, the more you read, the better you will get.
Choose the right content
Reading is most effective when the subject is something close to your heart.
For example, if you’re not into history reading a book on the Ancient Indus civilization could be a total waste of time, effort and money (if you have paid for the book).
There are two primary factors that you need to bear in mind when choosing a book to read.
First, always choose a book on a subject that interests you – else you will never complete it.
And two, choose a book just above your reading level or level of understanding of the language.
This way, you will enjoy what you read and it will also allow you to experience new words, meanings and sounds – just enough to challenge yourself.
Things to do – before & after reading a book
Reading a book is not just about well, reading it.
In fact there is a lot more to it that you need to know and follow.
There are quite a few things that you can do – before and after you read a book which can help you understand it better.
For example, before sitting down to read it, you could simply browse the text – or flip through its pages without actually reading every word.
You can repeat this process after you’r done reading the book too.
It will help you to summarize what you have just read and also help you in understanding the content better.
You can even try to write a few lines describing the book – which will show you clearly how much of it you have really understood and if you still need clarity in a few areas.
Focus on improving your fluency
This is a very important point in the process of learning how to improve your reading comprehension skills.
Now there are two ways of reading. One involves stopping after every word or reading from one word to the next and the other is reading full sentences.
People who read from one word to the next do so because they lack the fluency needed to read full sentences – which is the correct way to read.
You can improve your fluency in one of many ways. You can opt to read simple texts which are easier for you to read and understand.
Or you can choose to read a slightly advanced form of the language, making a note of the words that you could not pronounce or understand the meaning of.
Either ways acquiring the fluency you need can help you better your reading comprehension skills immensely.
If done regularly it can also help improve your speaking skills making you sound more confident and natural every time you do so.
Learn to slow it down
Gaining the required fluency will also help you speed up the reading process and start thinking about the text and its meaning.
That’s right, now that you have speeded up your reading process, it’s time to turn it down a couple of notches.
One way of doing it is to read out aloud – and no I don’t mean loud enough to shake the windows of your house.
Try to focus on each and every word when you do so taking care to pronouncing it well and clearly.
If for some reason, you can’t or don’t want to read aloud you could try reading normally and pausing after every few paragraphs to take notes and write questions relevant to what you have just read.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Asking questions is an integral part of this process of self-improvement.
The more questions you raise the better it is for you since it denotes a higher understanding of the reading process itself.
So don’t hesitate to raise as many questions as you want.
It will allow you to delve even deeper in to the text and its meaning and also help in keeping you focused.
One great way of doing this is to write down the questions that come to your mind as you read, on a Post-It and sticking them to the relevant page itself.
Once your done reading, you can go back to the pages, re-read the text and try to figure out the answer to your question(s).
…Or to re-read the text again
It’s very common for people not to fully understand a book after reading it for the first time.
This can happen if the text you are reading happens to contain some difficult words or sentences that you can’t quite understanding the meaning of.
By going back to the book/text for a second (or a third time even) will ensure that you understand it a lot better.
You could also find hidden meanings to the content that you did not the first time round.
Or better understand the context of new words which you may have been unable to do the first time you read the content.
So in a nutshell, don’t be embarrassed if you decide you need to re-read a book or even some part of it again.
There are many advantages to this habit which can speed up the process of improving your reading comprehension.
Read anything & everything
In the old days, newspapers, magazines and maybe a few paperback novels where the only reading materials one could lay his/her hands on.
Times have changes a lot since then.
Today in addition to printed stuff we have a whole lot of digital stuff to read as well – emails, tweets, posts, online news & gossip and what have you.
Read as many kinds of texts as you possibly can.
The more you read, the better you will get in reading, understanding and speaking the language lucidly.
You can even subscribe to a magazine that you really like, or join the conversation online on popular social media platforms and share your views.
Once you get better with your language skills and gain confidence about your reading comprehension abilities you can even try your hand at starting a blog online.
The best about the above-mentioned tips is that they can work to help you improve your reading comprehension skills in any language and not just English.
If you follow these regularly to improve your English comprehension skills, you may even discover that you’re reading better and understanding more even in your native language.
So do give them an honest tryout. Remember the sooner you get down to it, the faster you will improve your reading comprehension skills. Good luck.