Reading Comprehension Strategies for the Adult Learner
Reading Comprehension Involves Mental Imaging
Did you know that nationally twenty percent of adults read at or below the fifth grade level¹? The inability to read beyond this level prohibits completing simple tasks such as reading prescription labels, helping children with homework, filling out basic forms and reading directions. Reading Comprehensively involves active engagement with words: decoding what is read and visualising the words in your mind.
The cause of poor reading comprehension is based upon factors such as:
- Late introduction to reading
- Poor imaging of words (mental imaging)
- Environmental Issues
- Learning Disabilities
Despite the factors mentioned above, adults who wish to improve their reading comprehension have opportunity to do so through literacy programs, online websites, CD rom software and determined individual effort. In this article, the basic skill of mental imaging will be discussed as a reading comprehension strategy for adult learners. It is one that can be practiced individually and at your personal comfort level.
Using Mental Images In Reading Comprehension
Using Mental Images
Reading Comprehension is understanding the flow of words and being able to see mental images of the words as we read. Have you ever read a passage of text and found yourself having to re-read it two or three times, and still not able to comprehend what is meant? It happens occasionally to everyone, especially after a stressful day at work and you've tried to read the same newspaper article three times! Some adults have difficulty picturing what is read as a norm, and have difficulty organizing their thoughts to retell what they have read, which leads to frustration. Can you imagine having to go through this every day of your life at home, work and in social interactions?
There is hope for those of us who need help reading with comprehension through mental imaging. Developing your ability to picture a word in your mind helps to understand text. For example, when you read the word bird what do you see in your mind? You may see a little red bird or a large pink flamingo (or did you see one of those popular "angry birds"). Now, read it out loud. Your brain reads or sees the word and hears the sound and then establishes a mental picture. There is a connection between your brain's right and left sides that work jointly to trigger this picture.
Reading is like driving. As you drive down the road you keep your eyes focused on what is ahead (mostly, ignore the phone ring and texting, please!). You anticipate what is coming and drive forward with confidence. When we read, the pictures we develop help us move forward through the sentence or passage. As we practice this skill (mental imaging), we are able to increase our reading speed (drivers,watch the speed limit!).
Take the quick quiz below to experience how we read and how mental imaging helps us to move forward through a sentence. Read each sentence and try to picture the words as you read through the text.
Mental Imaging Exerciseview quiz statistics
Reading Comprehension Exercise
Reading Comprehension and Mental Imaging
In the quiz, were you able to mentally visualize pictures as you read? Did you score 100%? Some of us are able to read with greater speed and comprehension than others. Others read at slower rates but are still able to see some pictures form in their mind. And, there are those of us who cannot picture anything at all when we read. Didn't get a high score? Not to worry, this can be helped by practicing mental imaging and over time you will increase your reading comprehension skill.
To help increase your skill, try pulling photos (magazine pictures work just as well) of objects or people and attaching labels to them. Place them around your home or in a scrapbook so that you can practice reading them silently and out loud. Mentally picture the words so that you can build an association to the words as you read. In this way you are associating words with your life experiences which will help you to establish a lasting connection. You will find reading easier and faster as you continue to practice daily.
Adult Reading Comprehension Strategies
Use a highliter as your read to emphasize important words.
After you read a small section, retell the text using simple words outloud.
Use a dictionary as you read to look up words you don't understand.
Play games that require you to memorize pictures.
Listen to audio tapes that help you create mental pictures as you listen.
Take an art class. This will help you visualize objects both in form and mind.
Read newspapers, magazines, signs, labels, etc. and try to create a mental picture as you read.
You May Enjoy This Article
- Active Reading Skills For The Adult Learner
Reading with comprehension using active reading skills will increase reading enjoyment and boost your confidence.
Even as an adult, you can learn to read with comprehension and enjoy the satisfaction of reading with meaning. This will also enable you to communicate better with others. This article covers only one area of reading comprehension but I hope this small view will help others to establish a good habit and love of reading.
If you have any suggestions or comments to add to this article, please leave a comment below. I am sure others will benefit from your ideas and expertise.
- Hub Article written in response to March 2012 question asked by Cardelean.
- ¹Source: National Institute For Literacy, Facts on Literacy, 2001
© 2012 Dianna Mendez