English Corner (April)

by William Yang, PhD student from the Department of English │ISSUE 78 April2018 My UM

A Few Tips on Reading

In one of his essays titled ‘Of Studies’, Francis Bacon said: ‘Reading makes a full man’. Reading certainly plays a critical role in one’s life and career. The ability to read typically begins in childhood and is later enhanced for many at university. For English learners in a non-English-speaking environment, acquiring the ability to read in English is challenging. A few tips about what to read, how to read, and what to make of your reading will be provided herein.

One question that often confuses students is ‘Where do I begin?’ What to read depends on your purposes. For example, we read newspapers to obtain the newest information, magazines for pleasure, and academic texts for study. For an English learner, literary works are recommended because they can help you learn to think in English, a skill which is unfortunately neglected by many language learners.

The question of how to read involves the learning consciousness of learners, since they are supposed to learn something, such as new words or a different culture, in the process. Reading novels, for example, requires you to be engaged (sometimes painfully so) in the development of the plot. An engaging experience might feel a bit too much for a regular reader. You may ask yourself: What will stay with me after I close the book? You might experience joy, surprise, or even a sense of achievement with what you have felt and discovered. A highly engaged reader might say that he or she could hear the voices of the characters in a play, an experience similar to that of watching it on stage.

Finally, the post-reading stage. What should we do after reading? Only when the reading activity is extended to your writing can you maximize its use for English leaning. So, remember to scribble down whatever thoughts emerge, because great ideas usually come and go in a flash.

If you want to learn more about reading, Bacon’s Of Studies is a good place to start.

Contributions to this column are from the Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities