Comprehension means understanding what the writer wants to deliver through his text. Finding the implicit and explicit meaning of the text is known as a comprehension skill. It is to see the “bigger picture” the author has painted for us. It is one of the core skills in learning the English Language. Many non-native speakers fail to comprehend as their focus remains on textual meaning. They fail to understand the moral lessons present between the lines.
Having comprehension skills will improve your writing skills, grammar and vocabulary. It will enhance your English language skills making you a better speaker of it. A lot of people find it hard to comprehend the text.
And yes, it is hard!
But, do remember it is a skill. And every skill can be learned with some practice, patience and strategies. So, remain patient and apply these strategies to polish your comprehension skills.
Strategies to Improve Comprehension Skills:
1. Don’t use the dictionary again and again:
Yes, you have read it right!
When you are reading, there is no need to look for the meaning of each word in the dictionary. Try to grab the meaning of a word through the context. It will save you from the pain of opening a dictionary again and again.
You can enhance your vocabulary through an activity. Underline those words from your reading material which are unfamiliar to you. Jot down them in different lists. For example, you can jot down all nouns that begin with A in a list.
Initially, try to understand these words’ meaning through the context. If you are unable to understand it, then you can open a dictionary.
This practice will develop your English comprehension skills.
2. Read the literature you are familiar with:
In the beginning, read those genres which you love to read. For example, when I started my English learning journey, I chose the social issues genre. And, I chose those books which were slim and were meant for teenagers (I was a young adult at that time). I chose “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson because I find it interesting and easy to read
So, choose wisely. Once you will be able to comprehend the text, you can upgrade your level.
3. Keep summarizing what you have read:
It will be better to take pauses and summarize what you have understood. Scan the previous pages you have read. It will help you to clarify your observations and will add new ones to them. If possible, write your observations somewhere. You can write a sort of book review or article review. It will enhance your focus and will solidify your comprehension skills.
4. Take pauses:
To make your comprehension journey pleasurable, take pauses when you start getting tired. When you start getting confused or unable to grasp the reading material, take a pause. Either postpone your comprehension session for the next day or resume it after some time. It is up to you.
Don’t push yourself. Add pages and time little by little. It will build your stamina. For example, if you can read for 15 minutes, try to push yourself to read for 17 minutes. When you master this time, increase it to 20 minutes.
If, at some point, you feel that you are unable to concentrate for a long time, take a step back. It’s okay! Great things do take their time. Keep on trying and you will be able to build the skill.
5. Skim next pages
When you will be taking a pause, it will be better to skim the next pages. In skimming, you will only give a birds’ eye view of the next pages to grasp an idea.
If you are reading a nonfiction piece, you can focus on headings and subheadings or any bullet points. And in the case of fiction, you can skim dialogues or any specific scene. This practice will make it easy to read and comprehend the next pages.
6. Discuss it with others
You can make a buddy with whom you can read and can share your insights. In case you don’t have a buddy, you can share your book reviews online.
Comments on the review will help you in analyzing your progress. This can help you in improving your comprehension skills for future reads.
Reading plays an essential role in our lives. So, do read as much as you can and improve your comprehension skills with these strategies.