The Tricky Reading Habit

Good evening Test Order,

Today I want to talk about the reading habit; specifically in the context of improving our communication.

We have always been told that reading is a great habit and I agree! It is a great lifelong habit - but not everyone enjoys reading novels and books for pleasure. I am one of those people who have always enjoyed reading; from 500-page novels to the safety manual of aeroplanes. But what if you are not one of those people who inherently enjoys reading? And what if your purpose for reading is to increase vocabulary and improve communication - how long will it take?

Let’s take them one by one

First, it's okay if you are not into reading novels and books. You are not alone. You start with a 52-week challenge as a new year’s resolution and then get so burned out after 1/2 book that you stop reading altogether.

It’s more about consistency - so the best thing to do is to focus on consistency first and not the intensity. For 1 month, do a daily reading for at least 10 minutes. But what to read?  Anything that interests you. I would suggest you read blogs on - on topics of your interest be it tech, spirituality, finance, health etc

The only criterion is that it has to be a comprehensible input as suggested by linguist Krashen in his input hypothesis.

If x represents previously acquired linguistic competence and extra-linguistic knowledge, the hypothesis claims that we move from x to x+1 by understanding input that contains x+1. Extra-linguistic knowledge includes our knowledge of the world and of the situation, that is, the context. The +1 represents 'the next increment' of new knowledge or language structure that will be within the learner's capacity to acquire.

'Comprehensible input' is the crucial and necessary ingredient for the acquisition of language.

So do not pick up Murakami or Rushdie to start with.

Tip: Get into the habit of reading daily for at least 10 minutes. Do not put this on hold in wait for “awesome” or “advanced” material to read

Now, if you started reading some time back and felt that you can see no improvement because of it and got discouraged. Let me set the expectations straight for you. Reading is a long-term investment - so if someone has told you to read for like 2 months and your vocabulary will improve - then that was not the whole truth.

If your primary purpose of reading is to improve vocabulary and other communication features, then you need to add what experts call “Intensive reading” to your schedule. Now, what is this intensive reading?

Pick a book or a text or any reading material that is a bit out of your comfort zone. Now while reading it, make note of any words or grammar structures that you were not able to understand. Understand, you are just making a note (or highlighting it) and not breaking your flow of reading by searching them in a dictionary or google. After you finish reading your daily goal - now go through your notes and search for the words/structures you had noted down earlier.

Another suggestion to get the best result from intensive reading is to use spaced repetition. The words or things you have noted down if you are only doing them once will only give instant gratification and no benefit. This happens with people doing word of the day - in the end you are not able to remember 10 per cent of the words. So, you need to revise the words on the 3rd day and then on the 5th day i.e. spaced repetition.

TL;DR - Do extensive and intensive reading on a daily basis for the best results. Extensive reading is a long-term thing - so pick up articles/material that you enjoy. Intensive reading is to learn language elements - and use spaced repetition along with it.  10 minutes for each type of reading should be your goal on a daily basis.

See you next week.

Shubham and Vatsal
BBR English