Essential Steps for Understanding & Remembering What You Read

CultureWorks students practise their English reading and writing skills in class
CultureWorks students practise their English reading and writing skills in class

If you’re enrolled in an ESL program like CultureWorks, your ultimate goal is to develop strong enough English skills to enter university and succeed in earning your degree. Reaching that goal means learning new things about the English language every day – and remembering what you learn to build strong written, oral and analytical skills.

During your intensive English training, you will need to read, remember and understand a number of important things, including:

  • grammar rules
  • content for presentations
  • research for assignments
  • material for tests

Students who don’t have strong reading and comprehension skills may have trouble remembering new information. They work hard, but have difficulty progressing in their ESL classes.

Here are a few tips you can use to become a better reader, and a faster learner.

1. Practise What You Read

Let’s say you just read a list a new vocabulary words. The best ESL instructors will help you use those new words in a writing assignment or presentation. They do this because applying what you read helps new information stick in your long-term memory. Take it a step further and use those new words in conversations with your friends – your understanding will deepen and your confidence will grow.

2. Quiz Each Other About Reading Material

Another way to boost your memory is to partner up with a classmate in your ESL program. Take some time to ask each other questions about the article you just read. Students who ask and answer questions are much more likely to notice gaps in their understanding and fill those gaps. Talking about new content strengthens understanding, which helps you remember what you read and learned later on – for a test, assignment or presentation.

3. Teach Material to Another ESL Student

If you come across a concept that another student doesn’t understand, try explaining it to them in English. While you’re explaining, you will have to think hard about the material you learned and re-phrase it in your own words. Summarizing and simplifying new information is a great way to help you remember it later – plus, you make a new friend by being so helpful!

CultureWorks students exchanging ideas in their ESL class.
CultureWorks students exchanging ideas in their ESL class.

4. Make a Mind Map

Mind maps are very useful tools. If you decide to study English in Canada, then knowing how to use one will help you summarize readings, prepare for presentations, and study for tests.

Mind maps are visual diagrams that help you organize and understand new ideas. Here’s an example of a mind map you could use to prepare for an oral presentation or debate:

English as a second language

Using mind maps or drawing pictures is a great way to understand and remember new information without resorting to memorization – you’ll just forget everything you memorized in a day or two!

Not only will these comprehension and memory tips help you do well in your ESL classes, they’ll be useful throughout your entire university degree.

What other strategies do YOU use to understand and remember new information?