Friday, January 11, 2008


“The writer creates half the text, the reader creates the other half”, Author unknown.

Man learns by various sources and means such as by observation, conversation, experience and reading. Right from the stage of Stone Age to space age the man has evolved himself by reading the scripts which he himself has created and passed on the baton to his next generation. No one knows how one reads with in himself because he feels himself and understands with in himself. Everyone has unique way of reading and yet a few styles which are common among all human beings. Let us look at the different dimensions of reading skills.

According to the National Reading Panel (NRP), “The ability to read requires proficiency in a number of domains such as ‘phonemic awareness’, ‘phonics’, ‘fluency’, ‘vocabulary’ and ‘comprehension or reading comprehension’”. It indicates connectivity of many things during reading and also all the concepts mentioned will help for effective reading.

Another author Chall has come out with different stages of reading which is popularly known as ‘Chall’s stages of Reading Development’. And according to her, “Each stage of reading builds on skills mastered in earlier stages; lack of mastery at any level can halt the progress beyond that level”.

She divided the reading process into various stages. The first stage being the Zero stage which symbolizes pre-reading that is usually up to the age of 6 years of the child. It is also known as reading readiness. The subsequent stage is the Stage One, where the child is in the age of 6 to 7 years and it is also known as initial reading stage or decoding stage. In the next stage i.e. Stage Two where the age of the child is approximately 8 years during which child confirms himself and it is also called as confirmation stage. Further in the Stage Three the child who is in the age of 9 years, he reads to learn. In the Stage Four, the child turns into teen age and develops multiple shades of opinions and viewpoints and ultimately in the final Stage Five the man constructs his views and opinions independently and forms his own perceptions and judgments on various things.


Although there are number of tools and techniques in reading there are three tools by which you can improve reading skills. In brief, they are scanning, skimming and concept mapping techniques. All these can be deployed depending upon the context and also on the purpose of reading. Initially it is better to have cursory look on the contents by scanning, and then switch over to skim the contents by skimming strategy and at last read by applying the techniques of concept mapping. Concept mapping is nothing but drawing a two dimensional picture of a concept either mentally or physically. It is very important technique for noting information and connecting ideas. Since concept maps are pictures they can be easily retained in the memory. To substantiate these three strategies let us recall what Francis Bacon said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few are to be chewed and digested”.

SQRRR is another popular technique which is the acronym for Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review. According to this, while reading one has to examine and then question himself for the contents that are read. Whatever has been read is to be recalled with in the mind and ultimately the contents are to be reviewed.

The layered method of reading is yet another approach towards reading which is accepted and adopted by the majority of readers. As per this, you have to overview the entire material very fast and form an opinion on it. Subsequently focus little more on the important portions which deserve to be addressed such as introduction, headings and summary. It is a prelude to read the book and hence it is called as preview. It provides proper judgment and direction whether to go ahead with reading or not. After passing through this phase if the book or the material is worth to be read, you can go ahead with reading. It is in fact the semi final. And the final phase is the review. Whatever has been read has to be reviewed for better comprehension and for effective memory retention. Below are the tools and techniques for developing effective reading skills


• Find out what you want to know and for that you need to cut through the clutter. At the same time assess what is to be skipped from reading.
• Question yourself whether you are reading for any specific purpose or for pleasure because at times intention is more important than action.
• Always lay emphasis on contents and contexts but not on the style or flow or delivery of the material.
• It is always important to stress on qualitative not quantitative reading.
• Cultivate positive attitude towards reading. The more you read and the more love you develop towards reading. Nancy Collin aptly said, “The only way to improve reading skills is to read”.
• Before you read, find out 2Ws i.e. why you are reading and what you are reading.
• Check your biological clock and read so that the degree of absorbability and assimilation of the material is higher.
• Keep the dictionary beside when you go for reading. If the meaning of a word is not known it will help you to know instantly.
• In every sentence there are key words to be focused. When the meaning of the key words is known then it becomes easier to understand and memorize the material.
• If you get boredom, give a break and restart reading so that you can grasp better.
• Surround yourself with various kinds of books.
• Learn to underline the key parts/words/concepts for further references.
• Develop the habit of paraphrasing the contents.
• Transfer the material from text book to note book so that the best part of the material is with you. By this, you can separate chaff from the grain. And when you write then the degree of retentivity is higher.
• Create your own short hand stuff from the material.
• While reading, new ideas and concepts will flash in the mind and the same may be added on the margin side of book. Failure to do will lead to missing the beautiful ideas.
• Don’t focus on filler words in the sentences. The words like is’s and the’s can be avoided while reading as these take longer time and not of much significance for understanding the contents.
• Try to recall the contents repeatedly which are in your mind and summarize the same and write down either on the margin of the text book or in the note book. If you are able to generate a few examples from the text book in a given context it will help you to enhance retentivity. And also link the contents of the material with real life events, examples and accidents.
• By using different colored pencils the importance level of the contents will be realized for further readings. You can keep your style based the degree of significance and the priority levels. Rather you can create your own mythology, style and coding as per the convenience.
• If you find it boring to read, keep the book upside down and read you will be able to apply more pressure to read with this.
• There is no fixed formula for reading and the methodology changes when you read text books, newspapers, magazines, journals and more so when you surf online content.
• Average readers read about 200 to 250 words per minute. And the speed can be enhanced without affecting the quality with faster eye ball movement and with longer breaks and pauses.
• You can make sense of sentence by omitting articles, conjunctions, prepositions etc., By this you can focus more on the contents and also you can save time.
• Try to convert the written information into pictorial format while reading for effective comprehension of contents.
• If the meaning of a key word is not clear then try to look at it from different dimensions of the origin of the word to get the closer or accurate meanings. Also if possible look at the prefix or the suffix of the key word for earlier and faster understanding.
• Daily fix some amount of time exclusively for reading and over a period of time it will become a practice.
• Train your eyes to take in words in larger gulps.
• Avoid confusing material and don’t get stuck. Such contents can be referred later on. Learn to skip unwanted and unproductive stuff. In this context, William James aptly quoted, “The art of becoming wise is the art of knowing what to overlook”.


There are four skills that are essential for all viz speaking skills, writing skills, listening skills and reading skills. If speaking skills and writing skills become one side of the coin, then listening skills and reading skills become the other side of the coin. And the coin possesses value when it has two sides. To sum it up all four skills are like the four pillars for the development of successful all-round personality.

No comments: