Improve Reading Comprehension With a Four Step Process
Aug 16, 2008 Reading 2959 Views
Would you like to improve your reading comprehension? Do you find yourself reading and re-reading a sentence or paragraph and still not remembering what you just read? Do you find that you can read and entire article and take nothing away from it? Do you find yourself day dreaming when needing to read technical information or study? Then this is for you.
You can improve both memory and comprehension with some simple changes in how you read and following four steps. There is one catch. You will have to take the time to learn how to and practice this method. This is not speed reading. This is training your mind to work the way it is designed.
Working the learning curve to improve reading comprehension can be a road block or a speed bump depending on how you look at it. So before you look at how to improve reading skills, consider why you should undertake the challenge.
To put the challenge into perspective consider a motivational story based on a 2000 year old proverb. It was about two men wanting to see who the best lumber jack in the world was. So they held a contest to determine just that.
The contest rules were simple. They were to start cutting at first glimpse of sunrise and stop at the last shimmer of sun set. No help, just man against man.
At the end of the day one man was a clear winner. The loser just couldn't understand why he lost. He noted how the winner stopped to take breaks and refresh himself whereas he worked nonstop. The winner was truly was the best.
Wanting to learn the secret of the winner and how to improve, he started asking questions of his competitor. How did he do it?
"It was really quite simple," the winner explained, "I did stop for breaks. The secret of my success that made the biggest difference was that while I was resting, I also sharpened my saw."
The lesson is simple. We can sharpen our saws and improve our results or we can just work harder and have diminishing results. To sharpen our saws will require letting go of the work we want to accomplish with the end result of being more efficient at producing that work.
So how do can you increase the efficiency of your reading comprehension? You need to learn and then practice the four step process.
To start the process, get a piece of paper, an index card works best. It should be blank. Also get a place free of distraction or any other sensory input. No music, no talking, no noise. Get a chair that is slightly uncomfortable.
Next get something that would be fun to read however it should be informational writing.
1 First read the title. Then read the subheadings. Quickly think what you know about the subject. Only spend a couple of minutes. New memories are more easily recalled if they are connected to other older memories. This process in effect is like opening the filing cabinets of your mind.
Now you're ready to read the paragraph and start filing the information. However before you start you need to understand the process. You will be reading as fast as you can. Not speed reading. You will just read at a fast pace taking in the thoughts as they appear in the text. You will only read once.
You will only read one paragraph at a time and you will cover the paragraph you just read with the index card on completion. You will not have a chance to go back. Resist any temptation to do so.
2 Once you read the paragraph, mentally review what you read and summarize it in one sentence. As a clue to help you with this, you can generally use the subject sentence as the one sentence. As you advance you will come up with more complex sentences including numbers and even statistics.
As you do this, you are starting the clock of your short term memory. It should last for about 20-30 seconds. That is long enough for you to go on to the next paragraph and do the same.
You are also forcing your mind to focus on what is being read. At the same time it is remembering the sentence you just formed. It will not have time to be distracted for at least 30 seconds. This in effect closes the other filing cabinets that you might be tempted to process at the same time of the reading. Our mind can process much more than we take in reading. Unless we turn off the other processes it will be nearly impossible to improve reading comprehension.
On completing the first paragraph, covering it over and reciting the one sentence summation, move on to the second paragraph and repeat the process.
3 Now go back and repeat the first sentence and add to it the second sentence.
You're ready to move on to the third sentence continuing the process.
Continue on with each additional paragraph, producing one sentence for each next paragraph and then progressively repeating all the sentences from the first to the last.
4 On completion of the article, summarize the entire article. Initially it will take you longer than usual to complete this process. Once you learn it however, you will find you can cut your reading time by 20 to 50 percent. More importantly, your improved reading comprehension will enable the recall of what you just read.
For an even greater imprint on your mind, tell at least two people what you read. Give them a verbal summation of the entire article and eventually a summation of the entire magazine or chapter.