Center for Language Education
English Advice Sheets
HOW DO YOU BECOME A BETTER READER?
Do you find yourself unable to catch up with the large amounts of readings for your studies? Do you find it difficult to evaluate how much you have understood a text? There are so many other skills of English (such as speaking, writing, etc.) you want to improve that reading could be the last one you are willing to spend time on. But if you realise that reading can actually help you improve your spoken and written work in some way, you may find the reading activity worthwhile and rewarding.
The aim of this leaflet
This introductory leaflet is a guide to our advice sheets for the skill of reading. It provides a description of our advice sheets on reading, so that you can see what’s available, and which ones might be appropriate to you. Two types of advice sheets are described here. The ones that provide basic advice (described below) give suggestions which you may find useful whichever reading subskill(s) you decide to learn. The ones that provide further advice (described on the next page) look at the different reading subskills that you may choose to work on.
Basic advice about reading
Reading may not be the skill that you want to improve in the immediate future. You may think that you read in your everyday life anyway, so you don’t need to spend extra time on it. Another worry is that you may not be able to tell whether you have become a better reader or not after some time of learning. But if you plan your learning carefully, you will find that it is not impossible to evaluate the progress you have made in reading. Also, you may get a surprise bonus: both your writing and speaking could have improved, too.
- Thinking about reading (R2)
Before going any further, we suggest you read this advice sheet first because it lists some crucial questions about reading. These questions help you identify your needs for improving reading, and the reading materials that you enjoy. It also gives some tips on how to solve your reading problems.
- Evaluating how much you have improved in reading (R3)
It is very important to assure yourself that your effort has paid off. This advice sheet describes methods that you may use to evaluate the progress you have made in your learning so that in the end you can proudly say that you have become a better reader.
Advice about particular reading skills
Below are the titles of other advice sheets about reading. Just look at the one(s) that interest you. All the advice sheets suggest useful materials and tips for learning.
- Improving reading speed (R4)
You may want to increase your reading speed so that you can cope with the heavy reading load. This advice sheet suggests some of the ways that can help you read fast.
- Reading for main points (R5)
This advice sheet helps you identify the main points of a text. This subskill is particularly useful if you do not want to bother about details.
- Reading for specific information (R6)
If you want to locate specific information from a text, this advice sheet will suggest tips for doing so. Normally you have already had some basic knowledge about the topic and you have some specific questions in mind that you hope the text will be able to provide answers for.
- Reading critically (R7)
If you are not satisfied with basic understanding of a text, this advice sheet will give you some ideas on how to read between the lines. In other words, you will be able to distinguish opinions from facts; and you will be able to form your own judgement on the issues raised in a text. This advice sheet will also give you advice on how to make use of text organisation to understand a text.
- Devising a reading plan (R8)
This advice sheet helps you plan your reading project. First, it explains the four key components of an effective plan. Then it shows examples to give you a better idea on how to make a reading plan.
- How to enjoy reading (R9)
This advice sheet aims to raise your awareness on how to enjoy reading by means of a questionnaire. You can also try out the strategies suggested in this advice sheet. They will help you enjoy your reading more.
Good luck with your reading! It may not be very rewarding at the beginning. But with patience and time, you should find that you are making progress. And remember, you’re not alone! You may talk to your friends or language instructors. If you need any further advice:
- see an Adviser, on duty at the Language Commons Advice Desk (for details of advisers and their availability, please go to http://lc.ust.hk/~sac/sacadviser.html)
- e-mail lccommons (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your query;
- ask at the reception counter of the Language Commons — if the receptionist cannot help you directly, s/he will pass your query on to one of the Language Commons advisers.
- consider joining the following Co-curricular Course:
Exploring Short Stories (http://lc.ust.hk/~support/coc/course.html#ess)
Good luck and enjoy your learning!
This is part of a series of introductory leaflets supporting independent language learning produced by the HKUST Center for Language Education Language Commons team. This leaflet was written by Susanna Ho, 1997. Version 1. If you copy this leaflet, please acknowledge the source. Thanks.