Reading is one of the four main language skills (the others are speaking, writing, and listening). How can you boost skills in this area?
Just do it!
The best way to become a better reader is to read! Practice as much as you can. Honestly, I think one of the hardest parts of doing good, effective reading practice is finding something that suits your level. A good guideline to go by is something that you can mostly (perhaps 70~80%) understand. If you’re reading something and can just breeze through it, chances are it is below your level. While that can be good for maintaining your current level, it won’t really help you progress. On the other hand, choosing something too hard will have you running for a dictionary every few words. That will break up your flow and will ultimately be more frustrating than useful.
Don’t dive into the dictionary
That brings me to my next point… avoid the urge to grab the dictionary every time you see a new word! “But how will I learn if I don’t know all the words?” In the context of whatever you’re reading, the meanings of new words should make themselves apparently, if not totally than at least enough for you to have a pretty good idea of what the words mean. Also, a lot of unfamiliar words in things like novels and stories will be descriptive adjectives and adverbs without which you can still understand the bones of the sentence. Remember that you can always read something over again for deeper meaning! On that first read, focusing on a ton of descriptors can be really distracting.
“So when should I use my dictionary?” If a word seems to be a key word, if it reappears a lot, or if you really can’t understand what’s going on without that word, definitely look it up. I’m not saying the dictionary is evil, but it can be way tempting, and I personally find that reading without checking every word I don’t know goes a lot more smoothly and faster and is ultimately more satisfying than making a lot of dictionary pit-stops.
Read out loud
Also, another good reading practice is reading out loud. And I don’t mean just whispering it to yourself—I mean reading in a conversational voice, if not a bit louder. It’s surprisingly difficult at first because you have to see the words, process and make the right sounds with the right intonation and all, AND you have to try to catch the meaning as you do all of that. It’s a workout for the brain, and I’ve found that my reading speed has gotten better since I started practicing this, and now when I read unfamiliar things out loud, I can get most of the meaning even though my brain is working in multiple directions all at once.
Remember that reading should be enjoyable! If you want to practice reading with comics, do that! Like reading news articles? Go for it. Novels or story books? Knock yourself out 🙂 Don’t make reading practice any harder on yourself than you need to!