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  Weekly Feature: (March 6, 2006)


Reading at the Right Level
L's Weekly Feature


To get the most out of your reading, you need to read material that is appropriate for your reading level. If you are reading material that is too hard, you will have trouble understanding what the writer is trying to tell you.

The main problem is that you will use too much time and energy trying to find out the meaning of the words.  In order to fully understand what you are reading, your focus should be on understanding how the pieces fit together, and not on figuring out what the pieces are.

Reading comprehension can be broadly grouped into three categories: literal, interpretive, and applied. Understanding at the literal level means that you are only getting the surface meaning of what the writer tells you.

To get to the higher levels, you have to be good at reading between the lines. For example, the writer does not have to tell you his character is rich if he is shown driving around in a new Mercedes. However, our inference changes if he is shown driving around in his rich friend’s new Mercedes. A higher level understanding of the reading might mean that you not only know what the character does and why he does it, but also what he would do in other, similar situations.

To get the big picture, you need to understand at least 80% of the words. If you cannot read the sentences at a normal talking speed, the reading is probably too tough for you.  This is also true if the sentence construction is too long or complicated for you to follow.

Newspapers vary widely in their readability index. The free local community papers are usually the easiest to read, with a grade 5-6 target readership.  The Province is slightly higher at 6-7, the Vancouver Sun is roughly at 8-10, and the Globe and Mail even higher at 10-12.

You can also check out the readability index of any piece of writing by typing a paragraph or two into Microsoft Word and pressing the F7 key. (If this doesn’t work, make sure that the “show readability statistics” option is checked in the Spelling & Grammar tab under Tools > Options.) By the way, this article is rated at 9.8.

Remember to start at a comfortable level and work your way up.

You can check your reading comprehension here.

Also, click on the link below to check out Paul's feature on effective reading strategies







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