Activities for Skim Reading to Improve Speed Reading in EFL

Written by nikki dodd
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Activities for Skim Reading to Improve Speed Reading in EFL
Skim reading activities can help EFL students improve at speed reading. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

As students are often required to remember a significant amount of material, an understandably slow reading pace can be frustrating for those learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). When a student is learning the language for the first time, reading a book may require several dictionaries and can take twice as long as it might for a native speaker. Therefore, to move forward in the education process, it's important that students find a balance between comprehension and time management. Some ways to do this are skim reading, scanning and grouping words. In particular, learning the practice of skimming to improve speed reading will help keep EFL pupils caught up with their homework and can mean the difference between successful understanding and giving up.

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Rate Build-Up Reading

Optimal reading rate indicates the speed at which a text should be read to reach a proper combination of efficient comprehension and enjoyment. While there is debate among authorities on what the number should be, many agree that anything below 180 words per minute is too slow. Several others suggest that 300 words per minute is the most efficient speed and any number below 200 compromises comprehension. Regardless of the exact number, it is important for EFL students to reach their personal optimal reading rate in order to find an ideal balance, thereby becoming successful readers. As a teacher, help your students practice by giving them 60 seconds to read as much material as possible. Then give the pupils another minute, asking them to strive to read a larger amount of text. Repeat this drill several more times. The purpose is to accustom students to the act of skimming over old material to familiarise themselves with the new. It will help them process information quicker, while still comprehending it efficiently. Therefore, over time, this activity will improve the students' reading rates.

Repeated Reading

Skim reading is a process that students can use to get through a large amount of material quickly. Ideally, EFL students will learn to scan their eyes over a chapter, reading section titles to accustom themselves to the information on the pages. They can then get through the words even more quickly to recognise the subject. Lastly, students will read the chapter, but with the freedom to do so quickly with confidence in their ability to understand the information before them. EFL learners should practice skimming information by performing repeated reading to develop their reading rates. They should read a short passage over and over with decisive aims in mind. For example, ask your students to read a 100-word paragraph four times in two minutes, steadily increasing the goal. They should work towards reaching 200 words per minute with 70 per cent comprehension. Over time, this activity will improve both speed and comprehension, making students better English readers.

Class-Paced and Self-Paced Reading

Goal setting is important for learning how to skim and therefore reaching an optimal reading rate. Class-paced and self-paced reading are both good ways to set achievable aims. When setting a class-paced reading goal, involve students to make them feel more confident. The class should calculate the average words per page and determine the number of pages they need to read to achieve the goal in one minute. If each page averages 100 words and the goal is 200 words per minute, the students should read one page every 30 seconds. At the end of 30 seconds, tell the EFL learners to turn the page. Eventually, slower readers will learn to skim and therefore, read with the rest of the class. Self-paced reading is a way for students to practice goal setting outside of the classroom. Students should determine their own word per minute goals. For a goal of 180 words, the learner should count the average words per line. At 10 words per line, he needs to read 18 lines in 60 seconds to reach his goal.

Extensive and Intensive Reading

Intensive and extensive reading strategies are equally important in the EFL classroom to develop a successful level of reading comprehension at maximum speed. Intensive reading focuses on objectives such as understanding vocabulary and looking at text organizational patterns and text processing tactics. This method will help with reading comprehension, understanding organisation patterns, using reading strategies and developing general literary skills that aid students in appreciating what they read. When combined with extensive reading, the skill is very effective in helping EFL students comprehend text quickly. Extensive reading is the generalised method of simply reading as much as possible, learning reading comprehension skills and how to speed read through practice. Ideally, you should have a variety of materials on hand and let students choose material based on subject interest, as attentiveness generates the passion needed to become an avid reader. Over time, with practice, reading speed will improve, especially as students learn through intensive reading.

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