By Jacqueline Schaalje
It’s better to learn English using a text that is not too hard for you.
Why is that?
1 Difficult texts make you tired.
You probably know yourself that when you need to read a book or magazine or whatever in very difficult English, it doesn’t motivate you to keep reading. It’s no fun if you have to read every sentence three times. It’s much better to read something that is fun and that keeps you reading. That way you’ll read more and learn more English. If a book or magazine doesn’t interest you after a few pages, change and try another one.
2 Difficult texts make it harder to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words.
If you read a page that has three words that you don’t know, you’ll somehow manage to figure out what those words mean. But if there are twenty or more words that you don’t know, guessing the meaning of those words is going to give you a headache.
Sometimes you have to read…
In some cases you need to read a difficult text whether you like it or not. For instance for/in an exam or for your job. How do you deal with this task?
Find out what the text is about in 20 seconds.
Basically, what I recommend you to do is first to find out what the text is about. This you can do before you’ll start reading the text. As soon as you’ve gathered a bit of information about your text, your actual reading will be easier.
Look for these first:
1 The Title or headline of the text.
Titles tell you a lot, because they’re supposed to give you a summary of what the text is about. Also you may find the name of the main people who are involved in your text.
2 All names are important.
They can be names of people, places, animals, items, products, programs, movies, or books. You get the idea.
Try to find out what the number means. They can tell you the date or time of something that is probably important. Or maybe it’s the age of someone. Or it could be an amount or a percentage of something that could be the subject of the text.
Look out for words such as “because,”“on the one hand… on the other hand,” or “However.” The connectors can come at the beginning of the sentence or somewhere in the middle and they will tell you about an important contrast or argument.
If you see the word “dogs” four times on a single page, you can be pretty sure that the text is about dogs.
6 Punctuation or symbols or highlighted text.
Quotation marks (“”) indicate what someone said. Bold words might be important. The same thing goes for words in italics: maybe it’s a word that’s stressed or a foreign word that is essential to tell about the subject of the text. Also, have a look at text between brackets () or hyphens -, because they often contain some important point.
Summarize each paragraph
Another helpful activity is: try to decide what each paragraph is about. Write down a summary of the paragraph in your own words or highlight the main sentence in the paragraph. Every paragraph has a main sentence, and they often are the first sentence of that paragraph.
Hope this keeps you reading.