Developing your reading skill in English: The beginning
From Fokus magazine (M) 'Living English with Teech Airil'
by Airil Haimi Adnan @ Teech, April 2008
Apabila anda mempelajari suatu bahasa baru, kemahiran membaca amat perlu agar anda dapat menambah ilmu tentang bahasa berkenaan. Walaupun tidak semua orang gemar membaca, untuk menjadi seorang GELL yang berjaya anda perlu mencintai kemahiran ini. Membaca juga adalah titian ilmu yang akan membawa anda ke dunia baru serta mengembangkan imaginasi serta fantasi anda…
On your journey to become a GELL, you basically cannot run away from reading new things in English. But how do you start, and where should you begin, especially if you are trying to develop your reading skill independently on your own?
First, you must choose your reading materials carefully, so that you see suitable vocabulary being used in context. This not only helps you to become a good reader and to enrich your vocabulary, but it is also useful to help you practice your English grammar.
You must also remember that when you read on your own, you should start off with reading materials that are not too overwhelming either in size or with vocabulary which is too difficult to guess the meaning from the context.
The next question is, what materials should you choose to develop your reading skill in the beginning? You might like to start with local English newspapers that are quite easy to understand. They are also helpful to keep you up-to-date with what is happenning in the world around you.
If you need variety why not try encyclopaedias? They are also helpful to develop your general knowledge and to help you to do research on your school subjects like science and also history or geography.
Traditional novels are okay, but you might like to try graded readers first. These are easily available in your school library or at your local public library (you can talk to your English teacher and ask for help with selecting a suitable reader).
The problem with novels is that some of them like those written by Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie contain a lot of difficult vocabulary and they are only suitable for advanced learners of English.
They are also quite thick in size and will take you some time to read through. So, I suggest that you start with graded readers first before moving to actual novels.
There are also reading materials that are ideal for learning specialised vocabulary, but unsuitable for general reading practice. Examples of these are technical manuals, cookery books and specialist guides for professionals like accountants, doctors and lawyers.If you are curious, you might like to have a glance at these materials but they are actually not that suitable to help you develop your reading skill at secondary level.
Some people say that comics and magazines are also good if you want to develop your skill in reading. Well, depending on the type of comic or magazine that you read you might find this to be true.
Nevertheless, some comics and magazines are also known to use slang words written in ‘broken’ English that would only make your English worse!
To summarise our discussion this month, you need to develop a systematic schedule to help you develop your reading skill in the English language. Without a good system, you will only fail to achieve your target.
Whatever materials you choose to read, make sure that they are suitable for you and your own personal interests. For example, do not choose romantic short stories if you prefer to read short articles on computers and new gadgets.
There is no excuse for you NOT to read and practice your reading skill. Just go to ANY library to borrow and read excellent reading materials.
Those of you with access to the Internet might also like to browse the thousands of literary websites to help you start reading in English. But do be careful, make sure you do not choose sites that are written using bad English and broken grammar.
Next month, we shall discuss developing your skill of writing. Make sure you join me again in this column. Until then, I would like to wish all of you HAPPY READING!
This is the original unedited version of the article that appeared in the magazine, please refer to the APRIL edition of FOKUS SPM for the updated copy - Teech