Active Reading Skills for the Adult Learner
Reading comprehension is defined as the level of understanding of a text/message. This understanding comes from the interaction between the words that are written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text/message (source: wikipedia.com). However, I love this quote from Dickinson which illuminates my personal belief of reading:
“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
― Emily Dickinson
Reading Comprehension: Active Reading Skills Practice
Reading Comprehension Exercise
Read the story below and then take the quiz posted within the next section. Try to complete the quiz from memory, no fair peaking! This will give you an idea of how following the Active Reading steps outlined in this article helps to retain what you read.
An Afternoon Lunch
- A Little Girl's Reflection
Sitting by the small pond was a little girl eating a sandwich while watching the small fish wiggle around the lily pads. She loved this quiet place as it was the best place to eat her favorite treat, pickles dipped in chocolate. Her brother, Humphrey, often came with her, but today he decided to ride his bike instead. She looked down upon her pretty red dress with the blue butterflies and admired the way it looked in the sunshine. She wished she could stay there longer but it would soon be time to head for home. She heard a voice call to her, "Time for your piano lessons, Alice!" She packed up her lunch bag and ran for home.
Lunch Bag contained:
peanut butter sandwich
pickle dipped in chocolate
Exercise: How Is Your Reading Comprehension Skill?view quiz statistics
Active Reading Skills
I can't think of anything more rewarding than the achievement of wisdom through reading the written word. This article will help adult learners acquire active reading skills, capturing the ability to understand the written word. As readers learn these skills it will help them not only to comprehend what they read, but to enjoy reading.
When you sit down to read a newspaper, book or magazine, do you skim through it? Looking at the pictures, headlines and captions may seem as if you are capturing the essence of the written content, but it's probably not helping you to comprehend and learn. In fact, you may not even remember what you have read an hour later. Here are some simple steps to help you make reading effective and enjoyable:
Preview The Material:
- Read the headlines, headings, subheadings first before reading the content.
- Look at any pictures, maps, charts, captions and illustrations associated with the material you are interesting in reading.
- If there are any bulleted lists, scan through them. This will help you to preview what the article is about.
- If there is an introduction to your material, such as in a book, read this before you begin the first chapter or section of the content.
Before your begin to read, write down or mentally ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I know anything about this subject? This will help you to process the information prior to reading.
- What are key ideas I think this material is trying to tell me? This will stimulate your interest in the content you are about to read.
- Finally, look for these answers while you read. Since this method requires you to focus on the words, it will make more sense to you as your read and add to your memorization of the content.
- As you delve into the content, read in small sections so that you can digest words. Similar to taking small chewable bites when you eat so that your body can best process your food.
- Visualize or picture the main words in your head such as nouns (subjects, places, persons, names, things).
- If you feel the material is frustrating or confusing, stop. Take a break. Reread slowly once again after you are rested. It is not important to complete the entire material, your goal is to comprehend, identify and understand what is being said through the written word.
- Remember to look for answers to your questions (from the previous section). Write your answers down on paper, draw them if it helps. Don't worry, you don't have to be an artist for this exercise!
- Take notes as your read, again drawing may help. Write your notes in your own words so that it makes sense to you.
- Use highlighters, or underline words that seem important.
Read Out Loud:
- Recite the questions your wrote out loud and answer them, out loud. This will stimulate and engage your other senses increasing your awareness of the material you just read.
- Record your responses and read them out loud. This will help you to remember and retain the information longer.
Review The Material:
- Go back and read the headlines, captions, subheadings, once again.
- Read what you highlighted.
- Reread the words or sections that you found difficult to read or to understand.
- Read the questions you wrote down and your answers.
- Try to summarize or give a brief story of what you read.
You May Also Benefit From This Article
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Learn how to build readung skills as an adult through mental images. Listed are helpful reading methods to increase reading comprehension.
Thoughts on Reading with Comprehension . . .
Resolve to edge in a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence. If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.”
- Horace Mann (1796 - 1859)
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
- Richard Steele
Why I Encourage Adults To Read
My love of reading was inspired by my father's story. Growing up an orphan, he did not have the advantage of an education living in a third world country. His immigration to the United States provided him an avenue for improving his quality of life.
At the age of twenty-three he came to America, unable to read. He didn't even know there was such a thing as the written word; until he took on a job as a janitor for a local church. Each day he would hear the pastor and his staff reading out loud from a book, which he later discovered was the Bible. He was intrigued that they were able to make words come alive, and that they gave life and meaning to his ears and mind.
After that, he made sure that he worked in that particular area every day so that he could hear them read and possibly learn something from their conversations. As time passed, the pastor noticed my father was listening at a closer distance each day. One day before the group met, the pastor asked my father if cared to join them. My father expressed his desire to join in but that he didn't understand how to make the words speak. Through the gentle teaching of this caring pastor, my father was taught to read.
For this reason, my father stressed to each one of his children the importance of a good education, and the enjoyment of reading. He valued knowledge and role modeled it well for the family. I am thankful for his inspiration as I continue to reach towards the goal of being all I can be in life for my own personal satisfaction, but more so to help others.
© 2012 Dianna Mendez