In my recent post, I made a confession. I used to “fake read” all the way through school and some college. About eight years ago a reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore and started looking for ways to improve my reading comprehension and finally begin to understand what I was reading. As expected, my article gained traction (people love confessions), but a lot of the readers reached out to me personally with almost the same question: “How can I tell if I am faking comprehension?” “How can I know if I truly understand what I read?” Instead of answering 20 FB messages (I love you all and I will answer everyone personally as well), I put it all in one article for you to enjoy and learn from. Here is your SIX-PACK! Aka the six signs of poor comprehension:
1) The voice inside of your head isn’t interacting with the text. Usually, people will have two voices in their head as they read. One is reading the words, and the other one is having a conversation. The second voice appears because our brain can process information much quicker than we take it in while reading. Since our brain has the unused capacity, it has mental “room” for an internal conversation. The easiest way to know that you lost your comprehension is to start having side conversations like: “what I am having for dinner” or stop hearing the second voice altogether. When readers only hear themselves saying the words, they are confused or bored and won’t remember what they have read.
2) The camera inside of the reader’s head shuts off. Good readers can visualize what they read and since I work with kids I call it a video camera playing inside their head as they read. When camera shuts off, and the reader can no longer get a visual image from the words, it is a good indication that the meaning has been interrupted.
3) Your mind begins to wander. Good readers can catch themselves when they are thinking about something unrelated and bring themselves back to the book.
4) You can’t remember what you read. Good readers can always retell at least some part of what they were reading. If you can’t remember anything at all, it is a signal that they need to go back and repair meaning.
5) You can’t answer any clarifying questions. Good readers always test their understanding as they are reading to clarify meaning. If questions are not answered, you may be missing out on background knowledge or were not focused on the text.
6) When you see a character in the book and have no idea when he/she appeared for the first time. It’s a signal that you weren’t paying attention and need to repair your comprehension.
What you think about while reading is the best well-kept secret of reading comprehension. If you actively engage with the text and ask questions before, during and after reading, you will achieve great success in comprehension you won’t be faking reading or learning.