Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Why aren’t you understanding what you read?

IELTS Reading is a major stress point for a lot of IELTS candidates.

Today you’ll get a simple, 3-step activity to help you increase your ability to understand what you read and to also increase your vocabulary!

You must NEVER expect to understand every word you read.

You don’t need this to get a high score on IELTS and you don’t need it to succeed in English in everyday life.

What you do need for IELTS is comprehension strategies and you also need test strategies.

We have noticed a bad habit.

What many students do is they try to translate the meaning of a sentence or passage word for word.

This does not work and we see it all of the time so we need to stop doing this!

We know that you want to learn vocabulary but you can’t take vocabulary by itself.

It needs to come through other things like listening or reading but with this bad habit, when you try to translate words you are not focusing on context like you should.

Focus on Connection NOT Perfection.

What is the writer trying to convey  to us?

What is the feeling that we should feel?

Read between the lines.

Understand the feeling and the gist.

Even try to understand what’s not being said.

What is the undertone?

This is what you are aiming for even if it does not come right away.

This connects directly when you answer Yes/No/Not Given Reading Questions.

Don’t focus on individual words and sentences.

Start by understanding the context and work backwards from there.

So how do you do it? Good question! We’ll show you how to do it now.

3 steps to get better at reading comprehension:

  • Step 1: Read the whole article and essay, read for context and take a minute to think about what you just read (without your dictionary) and do not underline any words or phrases. Next, try to summarize the ideas in your own words, what is the author trying to tell you?  Think about it.
  • Step 2: Dictionary step! Read it again and choose 3 or 4 key words that you think are important for comprehension and then use your dictionary. You can write the translation but we prefer that you avoid that.
  • Step 3: Next read the whole thing again, don’t underline or translate and then add to your summary again.

This framework helps you focus, step by step, on what you are reading and adding new meaning each time.

Any questions about today’s strategy?

Let us know in the comments below.

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