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B: Deirdre, a lot of people think that Reading is one of the easiest skills when studying English. In your experience would you say this was true?
D: Not always. Students often think that as reading is a passive skill it’s not as difficult or stressful as speaking, for example. But the learner should think about WHY and HOW he is reading if he wants to be a successful and effective reader.
B: Can you give some examples.
D: Well I always tell my students that I love nothing more than lying on my sofa on a Sunday afternoon reading a great novel. But the reality is that in our busy lives today we read far more frequently for other reasons – your boss might give you a 30 page report to read and ask you to note the key points before a meeting in an hour’s time, the professor on your master’s course may have asked you to read a book which is only available on short loan from the university library, and of course reading may be one of the papers you have to do in an internationally recognised English exam which always have time limits.
B: So how do you train your students to read quickly and effectively?
D: Well I give them practice in a wide range of strategies, and the strategy they use will depend on why they are reading.
B: Such as?
D: Well the person who has to read the report for his boss, doesn’t have to read every word in order to extract the relevant information. Likewise, if you need to read a book very quickly there are ways of doing this without understanding every word.
B: So what advice would you give someone who wants to improve their reading skills in English?
D: Well the first thing I’d say is that the more you read, the better you get. At the BC we like to encourage extensive reading – we ask students of all levels to read for pleasure outside the classroom.
B: How should students choose what they read?
D: Well the first rule is that you have to want to read it! If you don’t like a certain type of reading material in Italian then don’t read it in English!!