Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Truths of Reading

Martha Maxwell of Dartmouth College Academic Skills Center exposes some myths of reading. Here’s what I’ve learned from it.

 You don’t have to read every word

Writers sometimes compromise sentence length in order to make grammatically and artistically favorable paragraphs. In so doing sentences become longer when in fact only 3-5 words in a sentence are the only ones that matters to give its meaning. So finding the right keywords in a paragraph can be enough to make you understand what the paragraph explains. The rest is just grammatical mumbo jumbo.

It’s not enough to read only once

My grad school professor used to tell us (his students), that his former professor of the same course we are currently attending, has read the required textbook ten times. And so his students (including my professor) must read the same textbook 20 times in order to be better prepared. Thus, we being the third generation students must read the same textbook 30 times to have the same effect.

Furthermore, textbooks aren’t like novels, or storybooks which can be easily understood within one sitting. Textbooks, scientific journals, or articles are meant to be painstakingly read many times in order to fully grasp the concept it intends to explain. So, don’t worry if you cannot understand a passage in your first try. It’s meant to be that way, so read again.

It’s OK to skip passages in reading

You may think that in order for you to understand a certain reading, you must read every word, sentence or paragraph. However, a technique called skimming and scanning can be handy in case you don’t have the time to comprehend lots of concepts.

Furthermore, some books are like a full meal, it has appetizers, a main course, and perhaps a dessert. You won’t go hungry even if you skip either one of them (or two).

Sounding out words while reading slows you down

This is what’s being taught to us by our teachers in primary school; reading aloud. Eventually it caught us between the teeth. Now, even when we are reading silently, we still get the habit of saying it aloud in our minds, thus we still read as fast as we talk. That should not be the case; the brain is faster than our mouths, thus reading can be faster than talking. I bet when you are reading this paragraph, you are currently moving your lips (hehehe! Gotcha).

My advice: Next time your read, try humming inside your mind, eventually you’ll beat the habit of moving your lips while reading.

So what other things about reading do you know about? Share it with us here by typing your comment below.

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