Reading can be a daunting task for a lot of students. Sometimes because of boredom, others because of poor reading skills and in some cases due to a learning disability. ESL students can also face challenges when reading college level textbooks.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities has compiled this list of 5 Essential Skills Needed for Reading Comprehension. More than just a set of skills, this list describes the gradual process we followed when developing reading skills. Although the original article was written for parents of children with learning disabilities, this adaptation could benefit any body struggling with reading and interested in improving reading comprehension skills. Just one caveat, it takes time and practice.
1. Making the Connection Between Letters and Sounds
Once you grasp the connection between letters (or groups of letters) and the sounds they typically make (phonics),you’ll be able to “sound out” words.
2. Decoding the Text
The process of sounding out words is also known as decoding. As decoding becomes faster and more automatic, your can shift the focus from sounding out words individually to understanding the meaning of what you are reading.
3. Recognizing Words
The ability to read whole words by sight without sounding them out is called “word recognition.” This speeds up the rate at which your can read and understand a passage of text. This can be a challenging step for people with dyslexia. Average readers require four to 14 exposures to a word before it becomes a “sight word.” Students with dyslexia may need up to 40 exposures.
4. Reading Fluently
Once you can recognize most words by sight and quickly sound out any unfamiliar words, you can be called a “fluent” reader. Fluent readers read smoothly at a good pace, and use good expression in their voice when reading aloud. Fluency is essential for good reading comprehension.
5. Understanding the Text
Fluent readers can remember what they’ve just read and relate the new material to what they already know. They can recall details if asked and summarize what they understood from the passage. Readers with dyslexia can struggle to decode individual words. They can also have a harder time remembering what they’ve read. This makes it tougher to complete the important process of understanding and applying their new knowledge to what they’ve already learned.
Here’s a compilation of resources to help you improve Reading Comprehension
How to study a textbook (by Wiki How)
KWL reading method (from Study Guides and Strategies)
Textbook Reading Strategies (PDF pamphlet developed by Carnegie Mellon University)
Improve College reading Skills in 10 steps (handout developed by University of Pittsburgh)
Reading Efficiently by Reading Intelligently (from business productivity website MindTools)
Learning Disability in Reading Comprehension (by Ann Logsodn for About.com)
Improving reading skills for ESL students (by Keneth Beare for About.com)
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