Improving English reading skill

03 January 2016
Improving English reading skill

Touhid Ebrahim :
English is the most used international language. It is considered to be the most important and essential language in the world. It has achieved the status of international language because of its variety, suitability, clarity, flexibility, and popularity all over the world. In the field of education, research, communication, media and trade and commerce, the importance of English is so high. Currently, it is undoubtedly needed for any kinds of jobs, business, research activities and many other purposes. English is no more a unique possession of the British or the Americans; it is a language that belongs to all people of the world. Knowing English is similar to having an international visa. It is useful and helpful anywhere in the world. So, the importance of English cannot be described in a word.
It is a great happiness that our education system puts emphasis on the learning of English. In order to learn English well, all language learners have to develop four basic language skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing. Among these four skills reading is in the third position. To be efficient in English, reading is also important like other three important language skills. Reading is simply defined as a process whereby we look at and understand what is written. It is a receptive skill. When we read, we use our eyes to receive written symbols and information. Simultaneously, we use our brain to convert the written symbols and information into words, sentences and paragraphs that communicate something to others. Ability to decode meaning is important.
From time to time we are getting wonder why reading is important. It is important for variety of reasons such as exercising our brain and improving concentration, helping the readers to understand the meaning of different topics, teaching about the world around us, introducing with cultural heritage of different nations, improving our thinking power, developing readers vocabulary that increases the ability to write something well and helping the readers to get high flying jobs. Besides, when we apply to a college or university for study in abroad, probably we will be asked for some tests scores like IELTS (International English  Language Testing System), TOEFL(Test of English as a Foreign Language), SAT(Scholastic Aptitude Test), GRE(Graduate Record Examination) and  GMAT(Graduate Management Admission Test). Most of these tests are divided into four sections including reading skill. Reading is meant to test our basic reading abilities; this test provides evidences about how much one understands a piece of text. If we cannot perform well in reading section, we will not be selected for admission in English speaking universities. So, we have to learn this skill with great importance for receiving higher education and to be a good reader in English as well.
Although reading is an important language skill, but the teaching methods here do not put emphasis on the way of learning reading. Grammar and Translation is one of the oldest methods applied in English teaching. Teachers in our country generally teach the students only the text-books related topics and some sentence structures in English teaching. Students have to memorize rules of grammar, structures of tense, definition of parts of speech etc. Teachers usually translate the English text or poem sentence by sentence into the mother tongue. There are also some teachers who do not wish to spend much time in teaching. They think teaching English language is a difficult job and they do not encourage the students to learn reading properly. They never realize the importance and effectiveness of reading as a skill. But only the bookish knowledge is not enough to improve the students' language skills I think.
A proverb goes that where there is a will, there is a way. In the same way I want to say, where there is motivation there is success. But in our educational institutions, mostly we feel the absence of those teachers who are really sincere in his/her duties and who also think about the progress of students. Thus in want of motivation and proper guidance, the students cannot understand the importance of reading for receiving higher education and in practical life. On the other hand, many of the students of our country are indifferent and lazy to their study. They study English only for passing the public exams or getting a good grade or getting a minimum job. As a result they lag behind day by day and cannot afford to do something good for his/her own and for the country as well.
As reading is an essential part of education, I would like to request all the language learners and the teachers to realize the importance of reading. I think they should put emphasis on learning reading. Students' participation should be given priority over teachers' participation in the classroom. Learning system of 'Grammar and Translation' method should be changed to participatory approach. There is a saying 'Practice makes a man perfect.' Through the proper practice with concentration, students can develop their reading skill. Besides, they can follow some more effective strategies like making a habit of reading regularly, reading English books, newspapers and magazines everyday, creating reasons why we are reading, finding a place where learners can concentrate, choosing and reading about things that interest us, trying to understand the overall meaning of the topic, writing a summary of the topic we have read, discussing the topic we have read to others, going to schools, colleges and universities library and picking up lots of books, listening English music, news and watching English movies, theatres etc. to get standard pronunciation and joining an English language club or readers group.
We live in an age where we overflow with pieces of information, but reading is the main way to take advantage of it. In today's we cannot think of the perfection of education without good reading efficiency. So, we must have to learn this skill gravely to be a really educated person.
The development of education is not immediately visible. It takes a long time. Thus higher skill in reading comes from determination and regular practices. If the strategies are followed effectively and practice is continued, I believe the learners will develop their efficiency in reading and thus can acquire vast knowledge within a short period of time.

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