Reading Tips

Of course passing the TOEFL or IELTS is a huge stepping stone for international students preparing to attend an English speaking university; however, it is just the beginning. Reading skills are essential for keeping up with university lectures. Many of our ESL students here at Hancock International College who plan on going to university benefit from improving their reading skills. We would like to share some tips from below: David Recine explains how knowing common vocabulary terms will make you faster, “to get through texts. Download a flashcard app or review certain lists […]. Learn prepositions and their meanings, to eliminate the need to look up definitions every sentence or so; and understand irregular verb conjugations so you don’t get trip upped.”

Another skill that Recine talks about is active reading where, “you need to look for the greater meaning of a text. Make an effort to identify the most important keywords in the passage. Recognize the topic sentences and supporting details of each paragraph. Pay close attention to ‘signal words’ that indicate a shift in topics or an introduction of a new idea. (Signal language may include words and phrases such as ‘although’ ‘on the other hand’ ‘this is because,’ etc….). Ask yourself the important questions about what you’re reading: Why was this text written? What is the purpose of this text? What are the goals of the writer? How does the author achieve these goals?”

Skimming, Recine continues, can be done when, “you don’t need to give a school text a full, deep reading. Readings for class discussion can be skimmed lightly, because you’ll have a chance to explore the reading more completely in class. Skimming a text to get its main ideas is also a ‘better-than-nothing’ solution when you’re pressed for time. Think of skimming a faster, simpler version of active reading. When you skim a text, look just for the topic sentences of each paragraph and the supporting details that follow. Identify details quickly by focusing on ‘content words,’ a passage’s nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. When you skim, you can skip most of the ‘grammar words’ (determiners, pronouns, prepositions and so on).”

The last major skill Recine covers is learning how to scan. He elaborates further saying, “If skimming is a faster version of active reading, then scanning is an even faster version of skimming. When you scan a passage, you are looking only for very specific information. This high-speed reading method is especially useful if you need to answer reading comprehension questions. To give an example, imagine that you’re reading a biology passage on the life cycle of frogs. If one of the questions asks about the diet of tadpoles (legless, fish-like baby frogs), you can scan the text for words like ‘young,’ ‘tadpole,’ ‘diet,’ ‘eats,’ ‘food,’ and so on. It may not be necessary to read the entire text at all.”

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 Idiom of the Day


Meaning: One who spends much time reading or studying.

Example: Lisa is a bookworm while Jennifer enjoys playing sports.