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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Should I open a dictionary for every word meaning that I don't know while I read? 

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"Dear Ai,
Right now I'm going to a college in a beginner English class with local American people. I have learned how to read and find the main idea. It was good, I have learned a lot. I wonder, what is the best way to read and understand the text. Should I open a dictionary for every word meaning that I don't know while I read? Or should I use the meaning in English or in my own language? Do you have any good suggestions? Thank you, Roy"

"Hi Roy, thank you for your question. I am glad to hear that you have learned a lot and enjoy studying English. It is very important for beginners to have some fun in order to continuing what they do. Readings usually takes time to improve.

There are two different approaches for improving reading skills. For beginners, it is better to use a dictionary each time you come across unknown words. This is because beginner students do not have enough vocabulary to guess the context. If you do not understand what is written, then there is no reason for studying the language. Some students have an easier time understanding words if they approach them from their native language.

If students are an intermediate or advanced level, I would suggest them to use an English-English dictionary to check the words. They might check fewer words in order to guess the meanings from the sentences they read.

It also depends on what you read. Either you are reading for fun (probably you will be checking less words) or a textbook for college, you will be approaching this differently.

Never assume that you can absorb new words after looking them up for the first time. You need to write, read, and say it as many times as you can to make them into your own words. Good luck!"


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