Senin, 03 Januari 2011

Two Important Secrets for Retaining What You Read

When thinking about what makes a pleasant reader, I have often argued that lovely writers are always lovely readers but lovely readers are not always lovely writers. It seems that those who write, even those who write only for themselves, are usually able to read better, retain more of what they read & are better able to change their reading for the difficulty of the text.

Reading & writing are intimately connected to each other as well as to their innate linguistic counterparts of listening & speaking. At its most basic level, reading is the input mode of language while writing is the output mode. Taken together, reading & writing are the tools for literacy that parallel the natural language skills of listening & speaking.

The first of these secrets is that I read hard text aloud, sometimes even recording my reading for later playback. Hearing the text as well as seeing it often makes a immense difference in retention.

Struggling with retention of complex text is nothing if not normal for most people. Grasping difficult text is often hard, even for me. In fact, research indicates that they retain what they listen to & see better than what they read, something about the evolution of the brain as a visual organ. That all changed for me when I discovered secrets for not only understanding what I read but retaining the most important information as well. Both secrets depend on the brain's capability to reply best to audio & visual cues.

Writing about text is but solution. more is to make margin notes & to highlight text that you think is authoritative as you are reading along. Of work, this is another kind of writing about the text. My own margin notes largely come in forms: I ask questions & I argue with the author when I think they is dead wrong.

The second secret is that I write about what I read. I write about what confuses me in order to make some sense of the author's arguement. If I disagree with the text I will write a counter argument to clarify my own thinking. If I have little to say about the text I attempt to write a short summary of chief ideas. Writing, then, helps me think about the text I am reading in a way that makes what I think visible to me; I retain far over when I don't write in this manner.

What I retain from my reading is fully dependent on how much I write about what I read. It is that simple.

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