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Dng c nh- 10 A10- Hanoi University

How could second-year English students improve their reading speed.

I. Introduction Reading skill is one of four basic skills in studying English. However, reading fast with better comprehension, which is so-called speed reading, is not just a basic skill anymore. Speed reading method, by definition, is a method of reading that allows you read very fast (Online Macmillan Dictionary, 2012). In fact, for every English learner, it is hard-achieved skill that requires extensive training. Though reading was considered so important, many students still kept full range of misconceptions about reading. Hence, it is necessary for us to introduce them about speed reading techniques and help them to define their bad reading habits. Our research was mainly based on studies of Tony Buzan who is a great educational consultant as well as prolific author. He has been a pioneer in researching the potential of brains power. In many of his blueprinted books, he showed a lot of techniques that help readers make the most of their brains capabilities. The speed reading book is one of them. This how-to book, which includes many guidelines, is so great. Frankly, the book is one of reasons that continuously motivated us conduct survey. We believe that the findings and solution are highly beneficial not just for second-year English student but also for every English learner. II. Materials and Methods To collect the data for our research, a questionnaire was considered as the best tool. In comparison with other methods, the questionnaire is more convenient to investigate the large number of people in a short time and less expensive. Our questionnaire was designed with

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twenty questions. However, all questions can be classified into three types. The first type includes 6 first questions. They were designed with the aim of exploring students current difficulties. From question 8 to 19, by using frequency scale, we identified their reading strategies. Then, we pointed out some common illusion about reading by making comparison with experts instructions. The last group refers to question 20. We offered students various methods which help them to increase their speed of reading. In this case, we just offered 6 options which brought a fairy unjustified outcomes. By defining the problems they had encountered and some strategies they had applied, we suggested several methods which were proven effective by experts. To get the results, we designed a questionnaire including 20 questions. Forty copies of it were delivered to students. Then we selected thirty best answered-copies. Before doing a real survey, we had a sample survey in our class for one day. After collecting the questionnaires, we found some problems in the question part three. Some of my classmates misunderstood the first question clearly and could not answer it probably. Thus, we changed them a little with clear instructions to make the respondents easily understand. After that, having a complete questionnaire, we started conducting a real survey.

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III. Findings and discussion 1. Findings of reading difficulties.

50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 IELTS materials Textbooks Shortstories Reading materials Novels Others


Figure 1: Types of reading materials

Figure 1 shows several common types of reading resources among Hanoi University English sophomores. As can be seen, IELTS materials were the most popular sources which accounted for nearly a half of all correspondents 43.3%. As followed by textbooks, took up to more than one fifth 23.3%. Short stories, novels and other materials were responsible for 20%, 10% and 3.3% consequently. Textbooks, although compulsory documents, appeared to be less attractive. Surprisingly, while other resource as newspapers were readily available, there was a small percentage read them regularly. Only 10 percent enjoyed reading novels which requires reading to have wide range of vocabulary.

Dng c nh- 10 A10- Hanoi University

<60 minutes 60-75 minutes >75 minutes

Figure 2: Time taking to complete IELTS reading test.

Figure 1 displayed the amount of time that IELTS reading tests took each English learner to complete regularly. It is amazing that only 10 percent of students completed reading section on time, less than 60 minutes. Nearly 40 percent of all readers devoted more than 75 minutes to complete the test. In might contradict the previous findings given in bar chart 1. While so many students shared time with practicing reading, there is small numbers of them completed the test on time. From these findings, it is understandable that reading skill was found difficult by one third of students. In fact, academic IELTS reading texts are taken from magazines, journals, books and newspapers. It means that reading test cover wide range of vocabularies, topics and formats. Thus, students faced more challenges from unknown words, specialist knowledge to different layouts. Continuously shifting from passages to passages and trying to keep up with information flow, students could get tired and uninterested in reading. Moreover, to complete reading test on time, they had to apply many strategies that they were not really skillful. Consequently, as can be seen from figure 3, a large number of students were overdue for reading test. Nearly one third all

Dng c nh- 10 A10- Hanoi University

students regarded reading as a difficult skill. Only 10 percent believed that reading is easy. In contrast, English learners should start to read easy but interesting materials and train themselves to read faster gradually. By applying these strategies, readers are able to improve concentration by enhancing motivation and increasing interest in reading (Tony Buzan, 2004).

60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Very difficult Difficult


10% 3%
Medium Easy

Series 1 Figure 3: Students reading skill judgment.

30% 63% 7%
Figure 4: Reading difficulties among students

Uninteresting documents and unknown words Distraction Limited time

As reveal in the figure 4, uninteresting documents and unknown words are the main factor that reduced their reading speed, 63%. One third of English learners confessed that limited time

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is the most challenging obstacle. In fact, the effects of each difficulty on each student are fairy similar. Distraction caused students feel hard to concentrate on reading. Whereas poor concentration was the result of many reasons including vocabulary difficulties, limited time. Uninteresting documents were likely to contain many unknown words. On another hand, students at first lacked interest and motivation then they claimed that the documents they were reading were uninteresting. These outcomes were strongly involved with their strategies and misconceptions about reading. Overall, all of the challenges looked different, however, they were highly connected to each other because most of difficulties were caused by an incomplete training in reading. In the following parts, we are going to examine their strategies and misconception about reading.

Dng c nh- 10 A10- Hanoi University

2. Reading strategies of students Table 1: Frequency of students reading strategies Strategies Read slowly and carefully for better 2 5 0 5 6 5 9 17 14 17 8 19 14 13 11 7 8 10 3 9 4 0 4 5 7 2 2 4 Very often Often Seldom Never

comprehension Read word-for-word for deep understanding Understand what eyes focus clearly on. Re read words, phrase for deep comprehension Subvocalize words Look up dictionary immediately for hard words Scanning and skimming

Table 1 displays the reading strategies that students applied when they read English material. It is clear from the table that there are a large number of students chose options often or very often for almost every strategy. However, except for the last strategy, every strategy should be answered by seldom or never (Buzan,2004). For examples, approximately twothird of readers applied word-for-word or slow and careful reading strategy for better comprehension. In contrast, the faster we read the better our comprehension. As we know, a word itself does not represent the whole meaning of a sentence. It could be the bad news for more than a half of the pool who focused their eyes on word to understand sentences meaning because the information is organized in meaningful chunks that make immediate sense to

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humans brain (Tony Buzan,2004) Hence, looking bilingual dictionary to unknown words is bad habit that students had better eliminate. Another reading problems are sub-vocalization and regression. Firstly, sub-vocalization, by definition of Merrian-Webster Dictionary, is the internal speech made when reading. In many speed reading books, experts strongly recommend readers had better overcome this habit. In the table 1, we could see many second-year English major, up to 25, frequently sub-vocalized words when they read. Secondly, regression, the term describes an unconsciously re-read phrases words or paragraphs, is a common strategy. As revealed from table 1, re-reading strategy was commonly applied by nearly a half of the pool. In spite of the fact that many readers feel they must skip back in order to understand material. In fact, regression is unnecessary. According to many researchers, regression, which disrupts concentration and have little change on comprehension, extremely increase reading time taking. These findings indicate that students preserve a lot of illusion about reading which led them to read at a low speed. 3. Solution for increasing reading speed.

45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% S3+S2 S1+ S2 + S3 S2 S1+ S2 + S5 S2+ S4 S1:Improve concentration S2:Apply scanning and skimming S3: Develop vocabulary S4:Use pointer S5:Read easy material

Figure 3: Solution to increase the speed of reading.

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Figure 5 displays the common ways students used to increase their reading speed. It is obvious from the chart that almost all students (83.3%) integrated several solutions to boost speed as being opposed to 16.7% of them believing that applying scanning and skimming strategies are enough. The highest percentage was 43.3% for the combination of two most common ways of applying scanning and skimming strategy and developing vocabulary. This solution is natural process which most of language learners unconsciously applied. Noticeably, scanning and skimming strategy, which itself accounted for nearly twenty percent, is a part of many solutions. On the other hand, some useful strategies such as using pointer or read easy material that were advised by linguist experts are not common solutions. This phenomenon indicates that students only used the strategies they had heard before. It might be because they did not reference books about speed reading. These findings raise a question that although students intended to use powerful tools like scanning and skimming strategies or developing vocabulary, many of them still found reading to be difficult. The answer is while students believed they had applied scanning and skimming strategies correctly, they still held many misconceptions about reading comprehension which in turn reduce the effects of such a powerful tools.

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IV. Conclusion In conclusion, the majority of students had a high opinion about the importance of reading and practiced reading regularly. Although spending much time on reading hard materials IELTS for example, English major still found difficult in reading fast with deep comprehension. They are, in speed reading experts opinion, are low readers. Because holding many misconceptions about reading, they continued reduced the effects of scanning and skimming strategies and read at slow speed. There are several solutions given to boost speed of reading, the combination of increasing vocabulary and practicing scanning, skimming strategies was the most popular. In our opinion, firstly student had better to dismiss some wrong ideas about reading comprehension and integrate some useful strategies. However, it should be noted that this study has investigated only 30 students of English Department, thus the results are just some recommendations and in fact might not be appropriate. On the other hand, our research has revealed a lot of useful information about current problems of reading and solutions for them. In this view, it is necessary to do the research.

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