Chair: Read to improve reading

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Start with personal interests to help establish the habit.

By Bleah B. Patterson 

“Practice makes perfect” is the mantra Professor Mike Burton, chair of English,  reading and education, uses to advise students trying to improve their reading skills.

If students want to improve reading skills, they have to read, he said.

“There’s a proverb in the Bible that says, ‘The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,’” Burton said, adding a student should not start reading a textbook or Shakespeare unless it’s their preference.

“Read what interests you. Read something that makes the marks on the page turn into ideas,” Burton said. “It amazes me people who can look at a music score and hear the music play. Reading is very much the same way, but it’s still a process, and it can still be a chore.”

Reading is important because it gives students the feeling of how language works. Reading is a skill most people can practice and improve. “It makes it doubly difficult to read something that doesn’t interest you. Start with the fun stuff,” Burton said. “Read out loud; it slows you down and makes you think about what you’re reading.”

Motivational techniques, Burton explained, are the most common means used to encourage students to read, such as reading out loud to themselves and reading what interests them.

“The point is to get students reading and keep them reading until they don’t ever want to stop,” Burton said.

Being adept at reading will give students more confidence as they advance in academic careers, Burton said.


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