With the rate at which change is happening in the world right now, we are constantly having to read more and more just to keep up. In recent years, our mobile devices has made it easier and quicker to access information, when and how we want it.
Having the ability to read with greater competence and to retain what we read better is a skill that is extremely beneficial to us. The way to improve our reading skills is by adopting a regular reading practice.
The benefits of having a regular reading practice includes:
- Reading improves our vocabulary.
- Reading stimulates our brain. It is like exercise for our brain.
- Reading can help us make better, informed decisions.
- Reading can be relaxing, which will affect our mood in a positive way.
- Reading can help us connect better with others and the world in general.
One of the best ways to improve our knowledge, skills and wisdom is through reading. The best leaders in the world are voracious readers, so if we want to be a leader that others admire, respect and trust, then reading regularly must be something we commit to.
There are a number of things that can be done to improve our reading skills. Some of these things are generally quick to apply, while others will require a respectable amount of discipline and a commitment, which will lead to an improvement in our reading skills over time. Here are five things we can do before we start reading and five specific things we can do to actually improve our reading skills.
Things To Do Before Reading
- Mentally prepare yourself to read. We have to be clear on what the purpose is behind what we want to read. What is it that we’d like to know or learn?
- Determine what reading level you’re currently at. This will help us become better at deciding what or how often we want to read. One of the easiest ways is to use a timer to determine how many words we can read in a minute, then measure our progress over time.
- Schedule time for reading. Just like any development endeavour, if we want to improve our reading skills, we have to dedicate time to it. The more we practice, the better we’ll become.
- Choose material to read that you are interested in. It doesn’t matter what we choose to read, it has to be something that we believe will bring us value in some way. The more selective we are with what we read, the higher the probability that we will actually stick with our reading practice.
- Take notes to enhance your learning. Sometimes, we will come across words we are unfamiliar with or don’t know what they mean. Rather than getting stuck, it may be easier to just make a list of those words and look up their meaning at a later time. We can also take notes to remember what we have read, which we can review at a later time.
How To Improve Your Reading
- Train your eyes to read down the page. We have been taught to read from left to right which is one of the main reasons why most people read between 200-300 words per minute. Just by training our eyes to read down a page, we will automatically increase our reading speed, without affecting our retention level.
- Do not read every word. Almost all sentences have filler words such as “the, a, an, of, if, there” etc., which will not alter the meaning of what we are reading if we skip over them. We can even skip the first and last words of a sentence but still understand the sentence.
- Use a pen or your finger to guide your reading. Using a pen or finger will greatly increase our reading speed because it forces our eyes to focus either on the tip of the pen or our finger. An effective way is to move the pen or our finger in a zig-zag manner down the middle of the page.
- Engage your imagination. A good way to improve retention and to increase our reading speed is to practice turning words into pictures. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” We want to practice turning the key words in a sentence into images because that will help us remember what we have read a lot better.
- Do not sub-vocalise. Sub-vocalisation is the voice in our head when we’re reading. Instead of reading out loud “in our head,” we want to train ourselves to read silently because the voice in our head is what slows down our reading. This is not an easy task but like any other practice, once we commit to doing it regularly, that voice will quieten down.
Having the ability to read quicker and retain what we read a lot better, will dramatically increase our self-confidence and our ability to reach solutions a lot quicker. The more we read, the better our reading skills will be. Becoming a better reader will help us stand-out from others, which is a huge benefit to us.
Question: What is another benefit of improving our reading skills?
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