I'm going to take exams to enter universities in Japan.
In the tests for their English reading comprehension, they often use chapters from books written by native English speakers, which means I have to read essays written for native English speakers.
I'd like to know how to improve my reading comprehenshion ability in order to mark god socres.
I had suscribed TIME and NEWSWEEK, but these were difficult for me to keep reading.
Can you give me some advice?
universities in Japan
bookshibuyaさん （ 東京都 / 男性 / 31歳 ）
It is difficult for everybody to read uninterested articles.
On the other hand, you are eager to read something you are very fond of.
Suppose you are a big fan of Lady Gaga and find her picture in the newspaper, you must try to read the article.
Also, it's not a very smart way to look up a new word in the dictionary each time you find. Reading is reading, not studying.
You cannot enjoy what you read if you annoy yourself by checking every single word.
Try to enjoy reading, then you'll improve your skill afterward.
Quality over quantity
Please note that I am not an expert in Japanese university exams and my answer here for you is based on my experience as a graduate student in the US. As you probably know, those graduate programs are very demanding and we are required to read tons of books etc. which are definitely not ‘non-native friendly.’ Please also note that I am not at all a bookworm type of person, so my advice can be quite different from other experts’.
To improve your reading comprehension, I would recommend you try to write as much as possible. Think about improving your listening comprehension - it is useful to check it by your speaking/oral performance, and the same goes for reading and writing. Judging from your post, you seem to have pretty good writing skills, so I think writing exercises I describe below would work well with you.
Start with summarizing what you read. As you read, I suggest you underline the parts you find important or interesting. Your first draft may be lengthy, but that is ok. Revise your draft to make it short and sweet. After writing up a good summary, the next step will be writing an essay. While reading, take notes on your random thoughts in English. When you organize your thoughts, it may be helpful to copy the underlined parts with your notes in a separate sheet and sort them out.
You may be seeking advice on something more to read, but I would say quality matters more than quantity. If you still have the magazines you listed, pull them out from your bookshelf and select one (yes, only one!) article you find most interesting. Read carefully, summarize, and write an essay on it. Ask someone to edit your writing. Whenever possible, have a discussion with your friends on what you read and write. Re-read the article and you will be amazed at how well you comprehend it. I would call it ‘in-depth reading’ and believe it helps improve your ability.
Hope this helps!
I don’t know when you’re planning to take the entrance exams, and the advice I have for you will take some time. However, I believe it’s an effective way of improving your English reading comprehension skills.
You mentioned that you have subscribed to both Time and Newsweek, but found it difficult to keep reading them. The English in these magazines is not so difficult compared to what you may have to read as a graduate student (several Japanese graduate programs require their students to read journals and do research from English language sources). As such, reaching a level of English reading ability where you can read these easily would be a good goal.
Since you are going to do a graduate program overseas, we can say that you don’t dislike studying, and therefore that you don’t dislike reading. The main problem is that because of your current English skills, it takes more time and effort to do the reading than you want to spend.
Instead of reading a magazine like Time or Newsweek which has articles on a variety of topics, it might be better for you to choose something that focuses on a topic that you are interested in. For example, what are you going to study in graduate school? There are many magazines that focus on science, business, and art, for example. If you choose a magazine or book that focuses on what you want to study, it may give you the motivation and energy to keep reading and studying, even if it is difficult for you.
In the same way, it might be a good idea to read something that focuses on your hobbies, such as music, sports, or movies. If you have two different things to read, if you start to feel tired or frustrated reading one you can take a break, read the other for a while, and then return to the first feeling refreshed and ready to try again.
Many of the topics I mentioned above also have versions that are labeled as “for young readers” or “for kids.” You may want to start with those, and then progress to ones for adults after your English improves.
Good luck with your studies and on the test!
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