Saturday, 28 February 2015

Speed reading with comprehension   

1. essential conditions
For speed reading to be successful, three things are essential:
   a. good command of the language   
   b. absence of bad reading habits  
   c. motivation to read books to enjoy, to gather information or knowledge

a. We read a book, a journal, a magazine to understand and appreciate what writers convey.
    To understand we need a good command of the language which implies that you must have
    a wide range of active vocabulary. ‘Active’ refers to frequent use of the words you know in
    speech and writing. A good command also implies a good knowledge of grammar:
          sentence structures—simple, complex and compound sentences,
          sentence patterns—subject + verb + object / complement / adverbial

b. absence of poor reading habits
    We’ve read from childhood and as such the way we read may be faulty, and we may not
    even be aware of it. We may be doing any one of or some of these things:
      · going back often to where we started before continuing to read because we’re unable to
         remember what we read earlier and so we’re unable to follow what the writer is saying
      · using a finger or a pencil to read
      · mouthing (using your lips to read) the words / or moving your lips.
These are negative habits; they obstruct your effort to understand what you read and to read with speed.

c. Reading extensively, that is, reading a variety of books will help acquire language
    naturally, that is, without being conscious of learning it. You’ll pick up collocations,
    improve your vocabulary, deepen your knowledge of constructing sentences and
    paragraphs. This in turn will help you use the language as naturally as possible both in
    speech and writing. And most important of all extensive reading will improve your speed
    reading and deriving pleasure.


2. Achieving speed reading
To be able to achieve speed reading you need to get over negative habits. How do you do this? Very simple. Think of how you read in your mother tongue or in the regional language. These three problems will definitely be absent in your reading.

2.1 solution
You’ll also realise one more important thing. We don’t read every word separately, that is, we don’t stop at every word before you proceed to the next. We also read words in small or large groups without affecting comprehension because our eyes take short and long jumps,

You need to apply this technique when you read something in English. That is, you’ll read words together in small or large groups which are known as sense groups. So read in small and big chunks.       

Reading is similar to speaking. You read a few words together and then move on to another group of words and so on.

3. Practice using single sentences
You have below a few sentences, each of which is divided with the help of slashes [/]. Read each choice for each sentence and then decide which choice helps you understand each sentence without difficulty.

Sentence 1


1. a. One/of/ the/ mistaken/ ideas/held/by/too/many/programmers/is/that/ the/
          documentation/for/a/program/should/ be/written/only/after/the/program/is/
          ‘finished’. (26 groups )

    b. One of/the mistaken/ideas/held by/too many/programmers/is that/ the
           documentation/for a/program/should be/written only/after the/program is/
           ‘finished’.  
           (14 groups)                                                                                                        

    c. One of the/mistaken ideas/held by too/many programmers/is that/the
           documentation/ for a program/should be written/ only after/ the program is
           ‘finished’.  (10 groups)

    d. One of the mistaken ideas/ held by too many programmers/ is that/ the
           documentation for a program/should be written/only after the program is
           ‘finished’. (6 groups)

    e. One of the mistaken ideas held by too many programmers/ is that/ the
        documentation for a program should be written/ only after the program is
        ‘finished.’ (4 groups)
  

The lesser the number of groups, the better the comprehension. Understanding best what is  written happens when you read words in sense groups which can be small or large.

Improving the speed further

1.a. You read words individually and found it difficult to get the message comfortably.
1. b You read some words together and some others individually but this time it was less
       difficult to understand.
1.c. You put more words together and thus reduced the number of groups and so
       understanding the message is becoming less difficult.
1.d. You enlarged each group by reading more words together. You are comfortable now and
       understanding the message is easy.
1.e. This time you reduced the groups from six to four. This reduction helps your

       comprehension and increases your speed as well.

As you can see, it was very slow in 1.a, the speed picked up in 1.b, the speed increased along with comprehension in 1.c. When you read 1.d. and 1.e. your comfort level increases and the messages reaches the brain without difficulty.

Now we can increase the speed without affecting comprehension:
1.f.   One of the mistaken ideas held by too many programmers is that/ the
          documentation for a program should be written only after the program is
          ‘finished’. (2 groups)
___________________________________________________________________________

Sentence 2


2. a. A/great/deal/of/information/must/be/provided/to/enable/the/potential/user/to/
           determine/whether/or/not/the/program/is/suitable.  (22 groups)

    b. A great/deal/of information/must be/provided/to enable/the potential/user to/
           determine/whether or/not/the program/is suitable.   (13 groups)                                            

    c.  A great deal of information/must be provided/to enable/the potential/user to
           determine/whether or not/the program is suitable. (7 groups)

    d. A great deal of information/must be provided/to enable the potential user/to
           determine whether or not/the program is suitable. (5 groups)
        

The lesser the number of groups, the better the comprehension. Understanding best what is  written happens when you read words in sense groups which can be small or large.

Improving the speed further
2.a. You read words individually and found it difficult to get the message comfortably.
2. b You read some words together and some others individually but this time it was less
       difficult to understand.
2.c. You put more words together and thus reduced the number of groups and so
       understanding the message is becoming less difficult.
2.d. You enlarged each group by reading more words together. You are comfortable now and
       understanding the message is easy.

As you can see it was very slow in 2.a, the speed picked up in 2.b, the speed increased along with comprehension in 2.c. When you read 2.d. your comfort level increases and the messages reaches the brain without difficulty.

Now we can increase the speed without affecting comprehension:
 2.e.   A great deal of information must be provided to enable the potential user/to
           determine whether or not the program is suitable.  (2 groups)
_________________________________________________________________________________

Sentence 3


3. a. Signals,/ signs,/ symbols/ and/ gestures/ may/ be/ found/ in/ every/ known/ culture.
         (12 groups)
    b. Signals,/ signs,/ symbols and gestures/ may be found/ in/ every/ known culture.
        (7 groups)
    c. Signals,/ signs,/ symbols and gestures/ may be found/ in every/ known culture.
         (6 groups)
    d Signals,/ signs,/ symbols and gestures/ may be found/ in every known culture.   
         (5 groups)


Here the reduction in sense groups is less than what happened in the previous two sentence samples. This is because this sentence contains commas each of which indicates a pause. 

Improving the speed further
You followed here the pattern we used for sentences 1 and 2. But it won’t work because we have a series of items followed by comma and generally a comma indicates a pause or stop.

The correct reading is:
   Signals,/ signs,/ symbols and gestures/ may be found in every known culture.  (4 groups)
________________________________________________________________________________

Sentence 4


4. a. The/ basic/ function/ of/a/signal/is/ to impinge/ upon/ the/ environment/ in/
         such/ a/ way/ that/ it /attracts/ attention,/ as,/ for/ example,/ the/ dots/
         and /the/ dashes/ of/ a/ telegraph /circuit.  (31 groups)

    b. The basic function/ of a signal/ is/ to impinge/ upon the environment/ in 
        such a way /that/ it attracts attention,/ as,/ for example,/ the dots /and the
        dashes/ of a telegraph circuit.  (13 stops)                                                                                            

    c. The basic function/ of a signal/ is to impinge/ upon the environment/ in
        such a way  that/ it attracts attention,/ as, for example,/ the dots and the
        dashes/ of a telegraph circuit. (9 stops)

   d. The basic function of a signal is/ to impinge upon the environment/ in such
       a way that/ it attracts attention,/ as, for example,/ the dots and the dashes/
       of a telegraph circuit. (7 groups)


The lesser the number of groups, the better the comprehension. Understanding best what is  written happens when you read words in sense groups which can be small or large.

Improving the speed further
4.a. You read words individually and found it difficult to get the message comfortably.
4. b You read some words together and some others individually but this time it was less
       difficult to understand.
4.c. You put more words together and thus reduced the number of groups and so
       understanding the message is becoming less difficult.
4.d. You enlarged each group by reading more words together. You are comfortable now and
       understanding the message is easy.

As you can see it was very slow in 4.a, the speed picked up in 4.b, the speed increased along with comprehension in 4.c. When you read 4.d. your comfort level increases and the messages reaches the brain without difficulty.

Now we can increase the speed without affecting comprehension:
The basic function of a signal is to impinge upon the environment/ in such a way that it attracts attention/ as for example/ the dots and the dashes of a telegraph circuit. (4 groups)

Take a look at this example, too:
However, / it must be borne in mind that/ such large groups, / as the ones you see in the box above,/ are not frequent because/ sentences do usually contain phrases or  clauses in between them,/ in front/ or at the end./ In which case,/ pauses have to be made and/ such reading will naturally increase the sense groups and/ the reading speed will vary./

You can see that the length of sense groups will depend on the kind of sentence you are reading. The reason is these sentences contains words or phrases which require pauses. So remember the number of sense groups we make of phrases or words in sentences depends solely upon how they are constructed.
___________________________________________________________________________

4. Practice with paragraphs
Whatever we read, a news item, a letter, an article, an essay or a book, we read and understand the messages, ideas or thoughts in paragraphs. Paragraphs contain sentences, and when we read continuously sentences connected to each other, we’re reading paragraphs However, the technique of grouping words in sense groups or small and large chunks doesn’t change.

Now let’s read paragraphs. Below is a paragraph repeated thrice with stops or groups getting less every time. Read them now.

Exercise 1
Stop at every slash as you read, you’ll find that your reading speed is getting better.


Read through/ this passage/ very quickly/ and/ from the ideas/ expressed,/ gather/ the topic./ This process/ is known/ as skimming./ When you scan,/ you’re looking for/ specific/ pieces of information,/ for important details/ that make up/ the more important ideas./ The process/ of identifying/ these ideas/ is known/ as scanning./ [23 stops]


The above passage is now divided differently with more words in each chunk.


Read through/this passage/very quickly/and from the ideas expressed,/ gather the topic./This process is known/ as skimming./ When you scan,/ you’re looking for/ specific pieces of information,/ for important details/ that make up/ the more important ideas./ The process of identifying/ these ideas/ is known as scanning./ [16 stops]


In this attempt you’ll find the slashes[stops] further reduced.. Read.


Read through this passage very quickly/and from the ideas expressed,/ gather the topic./This process is known as skimming./ When you scan,/ you’re looking for/specific pieces of information,/ for important details/ that make up/ the more important ideas./ The process of identifying these ideas/ is known as scanning./ [12 stops]


Now you’ll find stops still less. Read.


Read through this passage very quickly and from the ideas expressed,/ gather the topic./This process is known as skimming./ When you scan, you’re looking for specific pieces of information,/ for important details that make up the more important ideas./ The process of identifying these ideas is known as scanning./
[6 stops]


Like in the sentence practice, you find that as the number of groups become less and less, comprehension becomes easier and speed increases (that is time taken to read the paragraph becomes less and less).

Exercise 2
Read this paragraph in sense groups (small and large chunks) and put slashes at the end of the groups.


There are many ways of communicating without using speech. Signals, signs, symbols and gestures may be found in every known culture. The basic function of a signal is to impinge upon the environment in such a way that it attracts attention, as, for example, the dots and the dashes of a telegraph circuit. Coded to refer to speech, the potential for communication is very great. While less adaptable to the codification of words, signs contain greater meaning in and of themselves. A stop sign or a barber pole conveys meaning quickly and conveniently. Symbols are more difficult to describe than either signals or signs because of their intricate relationship with the receiver’s cultural perceptions. In some cultures, applauding in a theatre provides performers with an auditory symbol of approval. Gestures such as waving and hand shaking communicate certain cultural messages.


Are you still reading like this one below?


There are/ many ways of communicating/ without using speech./ Signals,/ signs,/ symbols/ and gestures/ may be found/ in every known culture./ The basic function/ of a signal/ is to impinge/ upon the environment/ in such a way/ that it attracts attention,/ as, for example,/ the dots and the dashes/ of a telegraph circuit./ Coded to refer to speech,/ the potential for communication/ is very great./ While less adaptable/ to the codification of words,/ signs contain/ greater meaning/ in and of themselves./ A stop sign/ or a barber pole/ conveys meaning/ quickly and conveniently./ Symbols/ are more difficult/ to describe/ than either signals/ or signs/ because of their intricate relationship/ with the receiver’s cultural perceptions./ In some cultures,/ applauding in a theatre/ provides performers /with an auditory symbol/ of approval./ Gestures such as/ waving and hand shaking/ also communicate/ certain cultural messages./  (45 groups)


Hopefully not. Like this?


There are many ways of communicating/ without using speech./ Signals,/ signs,/ symbols and gestures/ may be found in every known culture./ The basic function of a signal/ is to impinge upon the environment/ in such a way that it attracts attention,/ as, for example,/ the dots and the dashes of a telegraph circuit./ Coded to refer to speech,/ the potential for communication is very great./ While less adaptable to the codification of words,/ signs contain greater meaning/ in and of themselves./ A stop sign or a barber pole/ conveys meaning quickly and conveniently./ Symbols are more difficult to describe/ than either signals/ or signs/ because of their intricate relationship/ with the receiver’s cultural perceptions./ In some cultures,/ applauding in a theatre provides performers /with an auditory symbol of approval./ Gestures such as waving and hand shaking/ also communicate certain cultural messages./  (28 groups)


Like this one below? If yes, you’re fine as a reader.


There are many ways of communicating without using speech./ Signals,/ signs,/ symbols and gestures/ may be found in every known culture./ The basic function of a signal is to impinge upon the environment/ in such a way that it attracts attention,/ as, for example,/ the dots and the dashes of a telegraph circuit./ Coded to refer to speech,/ the potential for communication is very great./ While less adaptable to the codification of words,/ signs contain greater meaning/ in and of themselves./ A stop sign or a barber pole conveys meaning quickly and conveniently./ Symbols are more difficult to describe than either signals or signs/ because of their intricate relationship with the receiver’s cultural perceptions./ In some cultures,/ applauding in a theatre provides performers with an auditory symbol of approval./ Gestures such as waving and hand shaking/ also communicate certain cultural messages./  (18 groups)


________________________________________________________________________ 


Exercise 3
Read the following paragraphs; divide them for speed reading into as large sense groups as possible using slashes (/) to indicate them:
1.
The listening process starts the moment your ears receive noises from around you or sound combinations (known as language) from a speaker. These get passed on to the brain which perceives meaning from them. In other words, the physical ear receives a particular type of ‘code’ (that is used to pass on messages) and the brain decodes it (that is, it understands the meanings and messages represented by the code).

2.
A week ago I had lived and breathed that mission. Now I barely remembered it. I put the paper down and tried to look ahead. Tried to remember where I was supposed to be going, and what I was supposed to be doing when I got there. I had no real recollection. No sense of what was going to happen. If I had, I would have stayed in Paris.

3.
Why do you have to insist on Raju joining the medical course? It seems to me you’re thrusting your dreams on to your son. Is that fair? Also, Raju is entitled to his dreams about his future, wouldn’t you agree? Normally you would, I know. But in your eagerness to provide a safe future, you’re brushing aside his objections.

4.
Any speech to an audience needs to be planned. Because you want your audience to
listen to you, think about what you say, and probably act. To be able to do this, you
should be able to have an attractive introduction, solid middle and a provoking
conclusion, to sequence your thoughts appropriately, to clothe them in appropriate
lexis and structure, to provide clarity in thought and expression.

5.
Learning to understand technical vocabulary becomes all the more important if you
happened to have done your schooling in a medium other than English. Because you
can’t follow lectures delivered using technical vocabulary and you can’t comprehend
prescribed books that use again technical vocabulary, you’re very likely to take the
quicker route of learning the technical content of your Courses by heart and will
probably succeed in getting more than average grades. But because you memorise
without understanding, you are more than likely to fail the written test, and if you do
somehow manage to squeeze through the test, you’re not likely to succeed in the
personal interview and thus getting a job.

So, the first duty to yourself, as a student of engineering, is to understand the technical
concepts expressed by ‘technical vocabulary.’

Key to 1—5
1.
The listening process starts the moment your ears receive noises from around you/ or sound combinations (known as language)/ from a speaker./ These get passed on to the brain/ which perceives meaning from them./ In other words,/ the physical ear receives a particular type of ‘code’/ (that is used to pass on messages)/ and the brain decodes it/ (that is,/ it understands the meanings and messages represented by the code).

2.
A week ago/ I had lived and breathed that mission./ Now I barely remembered it./ I put the paper down and tried to look ahead./ Tried to remember where I was supposed to be going,/ and what I was supposed to be doing when I got there/. I had no real recollection./ No sense of what was going to happen./ If I had,/ I would have stayed in Paris./

3.
Why do you have to insist on Raju joining the medical course? /It seems to me you’re thrusting your dreams on to your son./ Is that fair?/ Also,/ Raju is entitled to his dreams about his future, wouldn’t you agree?/ Normally you would, I know./ But in your eagerness to provide a safe future,/ you’re brushing aside his objections./

4.
Any speech to an audience needs to be planned./ Because you want your audience to
listen to you, /think about what you say,/ and probably act./ To be able to do this,/ you
should be able to have an attractive introduction, /solid middle and a provoking
conclusion,/ to sequence your thoughts appropriately,/ to clothe them in appropriate
lexis and structure, /to provide clarity in thought and expression./

5.
Learning to understand technical vocabulary becomes all the more important /if you
happened to have done your schooling in a medium other than English./ Because you
can’t follow lectures delivered/ using technical vocabulary/ and you can’t comprehend
prescribed books/ that use again technical vocabulary,/ you’re very likely to take the
quicker route of learning the technical content of your Courses/ by heart/ and will
probably succeed in getting more than average grades./ But because you memorise
without understanding,/ you are more than likely to fail the written test,/ and if you do
somehow manage to squeeze through the test,/ you’re not likely to succeed in the
personal interview/ and thus getting a job./

So,/ the first duty to yourself, as a student of engineering, is/ to understand the technical
concepts expressed by ‘technical vocabulary.’/
__________________________________________________________________________

I hope I’ve been able to help you with the concept of speed reading with comprehension. I equally hope the practice exercises have enabled you to see the need to read in small and large groups so that messages reach your brain faster and your comprehension becomes comfortable.

If you can read any book like you’ve done here, you’ve learnt the art of speed reading. Enjoy reading articles, essays, journals, magazines and books this way.

Practice makes perfect, they say. This is true in the case of speed reading with comprehension, too. So practise, practise, practise. Until you can divide sentences into minimum sense groups without losing comprehension.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Caution to job seekers

This will be useful for job seekers.

What follows is a summary of an updated (9.2.2016) article by Harry Bradford in Huffington’s Post:
11 Terrible Resume Mistakes That Are Keeping You From Getting Hired

The article begins with this statement:
The Huffington Post asked managers across a number of industries to reveal their biggest pet peeve about resumes, and here's what they said. Job seekers, take note:’
1. spelling errors
This is a very common error in most resumes; this indicates how careless the applicant is in doing a job. [Chris Gamble, hiring manager at Rant, Inc.]

2.  too long and too detailed
Most resumes are too long and too detailed. A resume should be brief and highlight skills through appropriate choice of adjectives and nouns.
‘I look for key words and a nice, clean resume’ says Stefanie Staley, human resources/hiring manager at SportsDigita

3. details as job description
‘I want to learn what sets them apart and makes them unique from someone else in that same position. So, for example, if you're in sales, and there aren't numbers and/or client names on your resume ... there's a good chance you'll be overlooked for the role,’ says Adam "AJ" Schecter, recruiting partner at SoundCloud

4. not tailored to a specific job
Information in a resume is mostly general in nature about the applicant rather relating the information to the specific needs of the organisation the applicant is seeking an opportunity from.
Meg Giuseppe, C-suite executive personal branding and job search strategist

5. vague, puffed up language
The language applicants use is more of a boast than an accurate description of the skills they possess or the nature of their performance. An example would be: 'Dynamic retail executive with strong interpersonal skills, a passion for inspiring teams through innovative practices, and a proven ability to overcome obstacles.'
Matthew Meladossi, director of talent acquisition at Coach

6. sell yourself as a product
Bear in mind the job description and provide relevant information to get the recruiter interested.
Joe Milner, manager of talent acquisition at Pearson

7. poor grammar
Candidates should edit their resume for errors in grammar and mechanics (misuse or non-use of commas and capitalisation).
Neil Walker, senior technical recruiter at Gotham Technology Group, LLC

8. not highlighting successes
Candidates fail to grab the recruiter’s attention by insufficient focus on their achievements.
Minerva M. Garcia, vice president of human resources at Accordant Media

9. poor formatting
Care is not taken in organising information provided in the resume.
Aparna Junghare, HR associate at EquiLend

10. no executive summary
Most applicants don’t include an executive summary in their resumes. An executive summary is the candidate’s best opportunity to quickly showcase his/her skills, accomplishments and relevance to the role.
-- Eric Di Monte, senior talent acquisition manager at Univision Communications Inc.
Note: most job applications include a cover letter where applicants need to provide similar to
            the executive summary being referred to here.
            For a quality cover letter see my post ‘Job application letters’ in the blog.

11. incomplete work history
Most applications carry only a sketchy work history without relevant details about the job done and the skills exhibited.
Teresita Montgomery, director of recruiting at Stella Staffing

Happy job hunting!