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How 'deeply' do you read?

How 'deeply' do you read?

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There are various different ways to read a text. If you're just gathering information, you might scan several articles or books quickly; perhaps you might choose to quickly skim the beginning and end of an article if you only need to get a general idea of what it's about. When surfing the Internet, we skim, scan, click on hyperlinks, and jump around reading bits of text from here and there.

However, if your aim is to learn a new language, you'll need to slow down and do some 'deep' reading.

Here are some deep reading tips:

  • Choose one article per day. If you don't have much time, it should be a very short text, or you could choose to read only part of the article.
  • Remove all other distractions. If you've chosen an online article, it might be better to print it, or at least copy it onto a Word document.
  • Read the article through once at normal speed, and then see if you can write a summary of it in five sentences or less.
  • Read the article a second time, and note down both the 'facts' and the 'opinions' that it contains. Is the writer of the article expressing an opinion or trying to persuade you to think in a certain way?
  • Next, look at the vocabulary used in the article. Write any useful phrases in your notebook. Remember: knowing the meaning of a word is easy - the difficult thing is knowing how to use words correctly to express ideas. So focus on the way words are used together in collocations and phrases.
  • If you have time to go deeper, you could look at sentence construction: the length of each sentence, the connectives (linking words) that are used, and the order of elements in each sentence.
  • You could do the same for paragraphs: how does the writer maintain coherence between sentences, how are arguments developed or details added?
  • You could then analyse grammar more closely: nouns, verbs, tenses, articles etc.

It's fine to do quick, 'superficial' reading too, but you should consider adding at least 15 minutes of focused, deliberate 'deep' reading to your daily study schedule.

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