whatspeeddoyoureadFor many seeking test preparation a major concern is knowing how to increase their reading speed.  It is quickly followed with a request on tips for helping to understand what was read and remembering it.

Take A Speed Test

There are also many free App versions for iPhone, iPad, and Android.  Just type Speed Reading Apps in your browser and hit search for Android or visit iTunes.

Just click on the picture or here  and compare your test results compare to the national reading average of native English speakers.  It is free and from Staples which is also based in Germany selling office supplies.  You are under no obligation and linking from NoStressEnglish.

Three Requested Tasks:

  1. how to increase one’s reading speed,
  2. how to increase one’s understanding of what was read and,
  3. how to insure what was read could be remembered.

Four Building Blocks to Get Your English to Work for You

There is a need to learn from the related self-instructive structures inherent in timed-reading, timed-writing, timed-speaking and timed-listening.   Building blocks in learning English which when linked with each other  teach us how our English can work for us.

The Timed-Reading Section

Reading Sections are important for they shows us how well sentences are written and their ideas concretely  expressed.  When we note that every paragraph begins with a topic sentence whose following sentences explain what is meant it should be a model for our own writing or speaking.  Or that the paragraph’s last sentence usually summarizes what the opening topic sentence introduced while presenting the next paragraph’s related idea.  All well written texts provide a map on how to write presenting a progression of  ideas.

Cambridge and IELTS  / TOEIC and iBT TOEFL Tests

For Cambridge and IELTS Tests it is a great way to outline and understand the essays.  It works similarly for TOEIC and iBT TOEFL Tests.  Understanding the main idea of each paragraph by its topic sentence clearly gives us a proven structure to consider and verify what we are reading.  It further promises us that we will be able to remember what we have read by linking us to key words and sentences.   Especially,  since the last sentence of each paragraph as the last paragraph of the essay reminds us of what we have read by summarizing the essay’s main ideas.

But Let’s Make Our English Work Even Harder For Us

First reading, then reflecting on what we have read demonstrates the best practices for our own remembering what we have read.  It is why I ask those in my seminars to consider that how we prepare to read is how we prepare to write.

And for IBT TOEFL – How We Prepare To Write Is How We Prepare To Speak.

Interestingly, iBT TOEFL’s independent essay often asks the test taker to write in thirty minutes what they will be asked to prepare to answer orally in 30 seconds. Every speaker is given 45 to 60 seconds to answer in the spoken section of the test.  This demonstrates we can organize what we want to express mentally very quickly.  Compare it to writing where one is given either 20 to 30 minutes.  Hopefully, this prompts the realization we can mentally workout quickly what we now must put to words.

Clearly Identify What You Are to Do

The first key is to restate the question at the keyboard or orally.  Restating the question provides the frame work for our opening topic sentence.  This should be self-instructive teaching us to see how our English can work for us. Our own topic need only restate what we have been asked to write or say.  Here are two similar essay questions that can as well be interchangably used orally for the spoken or written sections’ of the test.

As a Written Question one is given 30 minutes to answer while as a Spoken Question only 45 seconds to prepare.  It is followed by a one minute oral answer.

„Some people find technology to be the answer in revolutionizing learning.  Other people believe the revolution needs to be classroom and not computer based.  Discuss both sides showing which you favor.“

Learning to restate either as a written or spoken means understanding its similar  self-instructive structure:

„People can not agree on whether computer technology or classroom based instruction is the answer to revolutionizing learning.“ Learn to restate the main ideas finding what is common between the opposing ideas.

Now let’s return to improving our reading speed.  Learning from our English test structure we realize now we can glide through each paragraph identifying main ideas in its topic sentences and summaries in the last sentence’s paragraph.  Topic sentences provide the key words to remember and restate.

A Slow Reader – Not To Worry

ESL, or English as a Second Language, students have been reported reading at about 150 words per minute which is identified as slow.  Not to worry as this is similar to many native born speakers of English.

But the really good news is that most are able to greatly increase their reading speeds. One of the easiest ways to improve your reading speed is by no longer reading every word out loud to yourself.  It is called subvocalization.  Follow your finger  sliding across the text insteading repeating with your mouth.  Inherently identifying an essay’s ideas will also increase your reading speed and understanding.

Slow readers may also need to give up the belief to understand every word when reading is most important.  Focusing on every word does not focus on either the key ideas or key words.  Of course there are a number of software programs   from very expensive to free.  Here is a link with a number of reviews:  http://www.speedyourread.com/speedreadingsoftware.htm

The creator of one has written on the others so do keep that in mind.

Amazon Online

Amazon  also has ways to increase your reading speed through software, books, and Apps.  Just type in separate searches for speed reading books, software and Apps.  Here you often get user reviews.

Speed Reading Test Questions

Often reading the questions first can tell you what to look for when seeking either written or listening test test answers. Some test takers have reported they have  cut their reading text time by 50% on TOEIC  by doing this.  Others have noted identifying the 5 Ws of who, what, when, or where is the key to listening and reading, what you have heard and read.

When Reading Out Loud Helps

Timed Listening with audio podcasts of 4 to 7 Minutes following with your finger the scripted text can inherently be self-instructive introducing you to academic content, vocabulary, pronounciation, and speed. Podcasts from the QDNOW.com WebSite provide solid grammar, reading, speaking, and listening skills through its variety.

You are able to read, listen, and follow at the same time.The podcasts serve many languages learning needs.  It is easy to determine the word count divided by time spoken to learn the rate of speed.  Often it is above 180 when last tested.  Learning grammar, public speaking, math, legal and health issues cubes vocabulary learning to sentence building and structure.

Reading in a Week What Our Grand Parents Read in a Year

Jeremy Browning of Japan’s Nagoya University of Foreign Studies writing in the TESL Internet Journal stressed the need for timed-reading in the classroom a decade ago.  He focused then on how readers were faced with reading in a week what their grandparents had done in a year.

Times have not changed.  The need for speed has long arrived.  It confronts  every generation.  It’s about getting our English and the need for speed with understanding and remembering what we have read to work for us.  Your test scores depend on it.

© Lisa White 2013

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