Reading is a receptive action which is one of the four basic skills of communicating in a language. It is reciprocally associated with writing. Writing and reading are parallel to speaking and listening. However, writing and reading are the tangible skills of communication whereas speaking and listening are the intangible skills of communication.
Every literate person can write and read at least in one language. Basically, reading is the ability to look at and understand the meaning of the written words, letters, or symbols. But reading as a skill means much more than that. Reading is a complex process of identifying/recognizing written signs, comprehending the signs, and constructing a meaning of the signs. Reading skill develops when someone takes less time to comprehend the signs and constructs meaning accurately. Different people may read a text differently and make different meanings. However, there is always something universally comprehensive in a text and a person with good reading skill comprehends that easily.
Improving the reading skill is necessary for so many reasons. Firstly, reading is the first step towards literacy in any language. It gives validity to the written form of language and brings it into action.
Secondly, reading is the first step of education. You may learn a lot of things through real-life experience and by listening to the people around you but reading will provide you with an experience which cannot be gained in real life. In fact, reading will equip you with a sign discerning system. This sign discerning system will eventually equip you with a sign making skill which is called writing. Education without a written form language cannot stable. So, reading is undoubtedly the first step towards education.
Thirdly, reading provides readers with a scheme for writing. Reading provides you with many sources of knowledge, information, feelings, ideas, content, style and language from which you can enjoy a lot of benefits. Reading and writing frame and complete one another.
Lastly, a good reading skill helps you in many cases like tests and exams. If you read a text efficiently, half of the job will be done. Improving your reading skill will make you think and act faster in exams and in real life situations also.
Purposes of Reading
Reading for Pleasure:
Reading with the purpose of pleasure is the most common purpose of reading. It involves the text based on the interests of the reader. When a reader reads a text with the purpose of pleasure, s/he tends to connect it with his prior knowledge and experience. In this case, s/he reads to stimulate his/her intellect and to satisfy the emotional demand of his/her mind.
Reading for Literal Understanding:
When someone reads with the purpose of comprehending something s/he wants to know, the person usually reads with the mindset of a literal understanding of the words s/he is reading and builds up a general idea of those words. A reader with the purpose of literal understanding looks for the answers of the basic who, what, when, where and how questions.
Reading for Analysis and Interpretation:
When a reader employs his/her critical thinking abilities and skills through questioning the commonly accepted meaning and exposes new interpretations or something implied in the text, s/he reads with the purpose of analysis and interpretation.
Some basic tips to improve your reading skill:
- Always read with a fixed purpose. Reading without a purpose will make your reading boring and it will consume your valuable time without giving you anything.
- Do not read for just words; read for ideas. Every word gives an idea or many ideas but two words together might give you a totally different idea.
- According to your purpose, set your goals and continue
- Always keep a dictionary with you when you are reading. If it is possible, write down the unknown words with their meaning. It will improve your vocabulary also.
- Give a careful attention to the punctuations used in the text. It may change a lot of
- When you are reading for pleasure, take all the time you need to stimulate your imagination, intellect, emotion, or memory.
- When you are reading for a literal understanding of the things you want to know, just scan and skim through the text to get the information you need. It will save your valuable time. See Scanning & Skimming to know more about reading strategies.
- When you are reading for analysis and interpretation, go through every word, then every phrase, then every clause, then every sentence, and then analyze the text as a whole. It will give you a lot of new perspectives to interpret a text.
- Read more and more.
- Concentrate the best you can.
- Enjoy reading. If you find something too boring or useless, stop reading it and read something else.
- Always find something to read which is comprehensible to you. Start with easy texts. Then go for difficult ones.
- Do whatever you need to do to make your reading comfortable.