3 proven strategies to improve reading comprehension

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    There are plenty of ways to improve reading comprehension, but it’s always good sticking to the tried and proven ones. Here are our top 3 tips.

    Reading comprehension is the ability to understand the explicit and implicit meaning of a piece of writing or text. Since our lives largely revolve around words, literacy is one of the most important skills children develop. When you read, words become thoughts and ideas. It is one of the fundamental ways that we receive information, so we practice it in our early years at school, together with phonics

    Phonics teaches students how to read and write by demonstrating the relationship between the sounds of the spoken language. We generally learn the English language by sounding out words and recapitulating common vocabulary from books and classroom materials.

    Because reading ability affects communication and impacts our quality of life, it is vital to provide adequate strategy training as early as possible. Frequent sight reading and spelling practice improve reading levels and greater fluency. But sometimes, students struggle for a variety of reasons. They can quickly fall behind the pace of their peers and, as a result, may develop low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. 

    While improving reading comprehension can encourage young people to become good readers, promoting success in and out of the classroom and for the rest of their lives.

    When students have excellent comprehension skills, they can not only summarize the passage by connecting contexts and prior knowledge but also find a deeper meaning beyond literal understanding and into higher levels of thinking.

    3 time-tested strategies to improve comprehension skills

    Develop vocabulary skills

    Developing a strong vocabulary is a quintessential component of reading comprehension strategy. Students with a rich vocabulary knowledge know the meaning of many terms. It is also a building tool, offering context clues for decoding and the ability to read unfamiliar words using letter-sound knowledge, spelling patterns, and syllables. That will help with the recognition of new words.

    Facilitate learning by making a word wall, and listing frequently used vocabulary. Create graphic organizers that connect known words to unfamiliar ones. Pre-teach vocabulary in books by priming the keywords a student will see. Practice them in isolation or in a sentence. Discover and drill sight words that are more commonplace than others.

    Try visual aids and game-based learning

    To help students build mental images of what they are reading, use visual aids and visualization techniques. After reading, ask students to picture what’s happening. Draw out scenes, characters, or plot details for supplementary perception and to remember the key points in the story. Anchor charts and picture books can also help make inferences and build word recognition.

    If your child is still struggling or has an issue sitting still long enough to focus or read a book, game-based learning can be an effective tool. Charades, Pictionary, crossword puzzles, and Scattergories are all fun games that build vocabulary by connecting words with meaning. Educational apps for all grade levels are offered for teaching reading by playing with and covering critical skills like rhyming, phonetics, and spelling.

    Have discussions

    An excellent method to inspire literacy is to talk about what one is reading. Have students read and reread, personally or in small groups. Aloud and slowly. Create Q&A scenarios, so learners answer questions before, during, and after a session in their own words. That will foster the examination and interpretation of a text by challenging thinking and clarifying meaning to better perceive characters and grasp intent. “Verbal processing” push readers to think aloud and is beneficial for comprehending themes. Reciprocal teaching gives students a scheme to get them engaged by: 

    • Predicting: Ask students to make predictions about what might happen in a narrative.
    • Questioning: Comprehension questions asking who, what, when, where, and how to dig deeper into a story.
    • Clarifying: Making things clear encourages students to recognize and identify difficulties and take reasonable steps toward explanation and reading comprehension.
    • Summarizing: Condensing a recitation down to its most central facts and ideas

    Using assistive technology to turn struggling readers into great readers

    Assistive technologies can be essential for developing reading comprehension skills using digital apparatuses. These research-based technologies are specifically designed for the needs of countless learners and abilities while enabling more impactful remote learning environments. Assistive technology bridges the gap and provides reading instruction and support for anyone who struggles with reading or other disabilities. 

    Text to speech and audiobooks

    Text to speech (TTS) technology makes you read easier by allowing selected text to be converted to computer-generated dialogue. Audiobooks are read aloud by human or digital voices. With these advancements, reading books becomes more comfortable by allowing listeners to control the audio settings, like adjusting speed and pitch to their convenience. Recognition (OCR) technologies can scan printed visual text and analyzes text to render it into digital form.

    Many public libraries have large archives of audiobooks and electronic books (or eBooks) that readers can borrow or download. You can also visit Speechify, which has an extensive collection of services, resources, and reading materials in English and other languages.

    Graphic organizers

    Graphic organizers allow learners to visually map ideas, concepts, plans, and schedules, providing explicit instruction and taking notes for rereading.

    Annotation and dictation tools

    These aid with retaining information by taking verbal notes. Speaking while reading, dictation software lets those struggling with focus write comments without distraction by translating that speech into text. 

    Embedded dictionaries and thesauri 

    Many digital devices and writing programs have built-in glossaries and thesauruses of definitions and synonyms, allowing readers to discover what any word means easily.

    Some reading tools are considered “low-tech,” like sticky notes, flashcards, and highlighter markers. Educators should also provide certain adaptive tools, like guides or special worksheets. Today, plenty of assistive technology is available on computers and mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. 

    Offering encouragement and support

    Reading comprehension is an indispensable skill. If fluency and text comprehension do not come naturally, encourage an instructional-based strategy around the individual student’s needs to help new readers gain the confidence they need to be successful at school. Regardless of the intervention, progress takes time and patience, so prepare a productive plan of action and set up attainable goals to improve and achieve maximum literacy.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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