Reading Skills

It is the ability to learn new ideas, acquire information and increase one’s understanding through effective reading.

The ability to read effectively will also be important in business. There are many benefits which can be derived from reading such as acquiring information, learning new ideas and increasing one’s understanding. Also, effective reading involves controlling one’s feelings. Good reading means avoiding prejudging the topic the writer without actually going through the article. Good reading also involves giving new topic and even bad writers a chance. Lastly, good reading involves anticipating, summarizing and connecting.

Following are some suggestions aimed at improving one’s reading comprehension and speed.

Reading Comprehension:

When you read, there is no human contact with the writer. The writer is not present physically on the spot with you. Since there is no contact with the writer, naturally you also do not speak to the writer as you read it becomes vitally important to engage yourself in a mental dialogue with him or her instead. This kind of a mental dialogue with him or her instead. This kind of a mental dialogue with the writer is often called active reading – being actively involved instead of passively detached. Two methods for active reading are: (1) asking questions, and (2) using recall techniques.

Asking questions:

The first way to become an active reader is to ask questions as you read. These questions need not form a predefined pattern. These questions can range from simple queries to complex evaluation and decisions. While reading a memo from a colleague outlining his proposal for a new personnel development program, here are some questions, in order from simple to complex, you might ask while you read. The simple query can be “What are the basic steps outlined in the whole program? You might even ask “How would this program affect the workload of the Human Resource department? The most complex kind of question, evaluation questions, requires judgment: should we try to change the personnel development program?

Effective readers ask these questions before during after they read. Before you start reading, ask yourself the purpose of reading. Questions can be developed on the title, subtitles and the introduction. Questioning before you start reading will increase your interest in the topic.

While reading, several questions can be asked regarding the topic. For example, if you are reading the sentence ‘We are in a better position when compared to our competitors’, you might ask: Who are our competitors in the first place? Further you might add how are we in a better position than the competitors? Or What are our advantages and disadvantages compared with them. Asking such questions will maintain your interest and increase your understanding.

Finally, we come to the question that could arise once we are through reading. The questions aimed at the validity, application and effect should be asked only after you have finished the piece. Questions asked after you read will help you understanding of the topic.

Usage of Recall Techniques:

The second way to become a more active reader is to use recall techniques. The recall techniques can be either mental (memorizing some points) or written (such as notes or under linings) Recall techniques may include any of the three components: structuring, annotating and finally summarizing.

It is obvious that in order to recall anything you must structure it in some way. Structuring is reading to figure out an idea chart for the reading material. To do so, figure out the conclusion or the objective of the article.

Structuring can be alone in various ways. First, it can be done mentally as you read, but this have the least recall. Second, you can write out a quick idea chart. Though this is line consuming, it provides the maximum recall. Finally, you can mark on the piece itself.

The second recall technique is annotation. When you annotate while you read, you make the structure visible symbols. Many readers underline points in their reading with a pencil of felt-tip pen. You have probably seen fellow students mark their texts with yellow highlighting pen. Proper care has to be exercised here so as to keep the annotation only to the relevant points. Over doing would lead to yellow colored pages in the book you are reading.

The final recall technique is to summarize. A summary which includes the conclusion and the main idea and written in your own words is considered an ideal one. Summarizes help in checking your comprehension, assist review and strengthen retention. Summaries can be mental, oral, written or a combination of these.

Usage of these techniques of asking questions and recalling information should enable you to enhance your reading comprehension. This would also help you to concentrate on the piece you are reading instead of wondering elsewhere or jumping to conclusions.