As educators, we’ve seen a lot of fluffy studying tips for Chinese reading comprehension out there. Many of these tips are either too ubiquitous, or they lack certain validity. We’ve written about how to improve Chinese comprehension previously, but we know you want more. We’ve gathered some of the wisest educators and milked them for their insights to present you with this blog post.
Although it’s said that children under 10 can more easily absorb information and excel in the new language, it’s not hopeless for older students. Reading comprehension relies heavily on broad vocabulary knowledge. If there’s anything they can do, it’s to brush up their vocabulary. Otherwise, they won’t be able to fully absorb the passage.
Let’s first understand how the secondary school comprehension exam, a.k.a Paper 2, works. Basically, it’s made up of MCQs and open-ended questions that are more focused on careful reading and inference skills. There are also vocabulary comprehension questions, which require students to explain phrases in their own words.
To effectively bring up marks on comprehension, you need to treat the language like a pal. The more you welcome a language into your daily life, the more you’ll find it useful and worth caring for. We designed exclusive hands-on learning activities for students so they can use every opportunity to get exposed to the language.
- Read 2 exam-standard passages (45m)
- Jot down terms/phrases that you do not understand and look up and study definition + test (1hr 30m)
- Search and jot down 10 different synonyms for each term or phrase (1hr 30 m)
Once every 2 days
- Build 10 different sentences with the term or phrase (1hr 15m)
Once every 3 days
- Build 5 sentences for each different synonyms (1hr 15m)
- Read 2 passages & jot down terms/phrases that you do not understand and try to define them based on context, check answers afterward (1hr 15m)
Once every 7 days
- Read 2 passages and write a summary for each without using any tools (1hr)
It may look like a lot. But trust us, as time goes by, not only will you boost your comprehension skills, but also your writing skills!
Other pro tips to score for Chinese reading comprehension
Deconstruct sentences to understand the meaning
As per the activity list above, it’s an absolute must to expand and strengthen your vocabulary knowledge. Equally important is having the ability to define terms, words or phrases without using any tools. You could always use context clues, which are clues in the text that give you a hint in what a word means. An example is, “He got hurt from the melee.” From the context as a whole, you can assume that a melee is a fight.
Work your imagination
Imagination is an amazingly powerful tool to understand something better. When you come across something puzzling, read the part slowly and with exaggerated emphasis. Then start creating images of what the passage means; the writing will start to make sense. If it’s hard to do so, here are 8 ways to help older kids develop a sense of imagination.
Go back to the beginning after reading all
Why? Because the beginning is often filled with basic information and definition of certain terms. The explanation to the core of the article is often build up step by step. Once you get the beginning, there wouldn’t be any issue apprehending the other sections.
Break down the passage into several parts
Every piece of grammatically sound writing always contains the 5w’s and 1 h. Isolate them, and if possible, take a pencil and mark 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. in the margin or on a piece of paper. Go through them and take note: they are usually parts that are related to one another facts, and, unsurprisingly, answers to the questions.
Master speed reading
Regularly reading with the correct technique can propel your reading speed to a remarkable level.
But it takes certain skill to read fast. Slow reading is because of subvocalisation, which means mouthing or silently saying words to yourself as you read them. Most people read faster than we can speak. To increase reading speed, get rid of this habit.
To speed things up a little more, underline each sentence as you read. Pace yourself throughout the entire time you read, maintaining at a speed that you’re comfortable at.
Focus on the questions
It may seem ironic, but read the questions before you skim through the passage. Reading the questions helps you know what to look for in the passage. You’ll be able to cherry-pick information, terms, and words to answer the questions correctly.
Be very careful when you’re picking out the answers from the passage. Don’t get too carried away by expanding too much, or the answer may end up being too ambiguous. It’ll happen when there are several potential answers. When you need the most correct answer, try to read the question again, then go back to the passage.
Concentration is key
No matter the length and complexity of the article, concentration is key.
Sometimes you get distracted; it’s inevitable. Other than trying out these tips to avoid lacking concentration while reading, try clearing your mind for a few minutes before reading next time.
Or you can sign your kid up for an online live Chinese lesson!