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Tips on Teaching Reading Comprehension

Teaching reading and comprehension are two of the most important tasks of a language teacher. If you are looking for some tips to aid you with that, here is a short guide.
Teaching reading comprehension is empowering people with the tools for learning. More than anything else, reading comprehension skills come in handy in the real world. Understanding the written word opens up portals to the vast stores of knowledge acquired by humans as a society, over centuries. Many good readers are not good at teaching reading skills. Knowing a skill and teaching that skill to someone are two different things. So, a good reader may not necessarily be a good teacher of reading comprehension. It takes a lot more than that.

Teaching Reading Comprehension: Tips You Could Use

I am no expert in these matters. All that I talk about here is borne out of my own experience at teaching children to read and through my research. Some thoughts also owe their origin to my own process of learning reading comprehension, under the tutelage of some great teachers, which I had the privilege of studying under. I owe a lot to these teachers of mine, who were instrumental in igniting the passion for reading in me. Through teaching, I try to spread that spark to my own students. Here are some tips on teaching children to read and comprehend.

Develop Vocabulary Powers
Without knowing what words mean, comprehension is impossible. So, you must focus on developing the word power of children. When you encounter an unknown word in a passage, you must explain that word and what it means. Then whenever that word pops up again, you can ask children for what it means so that they remember it. Teaching students to look for word meanings in the dictionary is important. A good practice is, to make children underline words, that they do not understand in the first reading and then discuss them in class.

Do Not Proceed Without Understanding
One good rule to follow in class is teaching children not to continue reading without understanding. Every sentence must be understood before they go for the next one. Make students feel free to ask their doubts if they don't understand.

Grasping the Heart of the Matter
Teach them how reading is made simpler when you understand the heart of the matter or the central idea of a passage. That way, they can easily connect and understand what binds all the sentences together and what is really being talked about.

Using Contextual Clues
One thing to teach students is that reading is a lot like detective work. You need to figure out the meanings of sentences through the context in which they are used. Teach them to question every line until the meaning is made clear, relevant to the context. It is all a matter of practice.

Visualizing What is Written
One of the simplest ways of mastering reading comprehension is visualizing what you read. Encourage students to visualize what they are reading. Especially, when you have given a story reading assignment, encourage children to visualize as they read. It is all about teaching reading strategies that help them to look beyond those black words printed on white and see the thoughts, images and ideas they represent!

Hope this article has given you an insight into teaching reading comprehension strategies, that will come in handy while teaching your students to appreciate the beauty of thoughts conveyed through the written word. Reading is an unnatural act, which is acquired through practice but thinking is not. The art of teaching reading comprehension is all about helping children befriend words and see the ideas that words represent!
By Omkar Phatak
Published: 1/29/2010
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