IELTS Series II: Reading Skills

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Reading for relaxation and enjoyment

Reading for relaxation and enjoyment is important because you can choose to read something that you really like! For example:

a novel
a short story
a biography
articles on topics that interest you (e.g. sport, cinema, fashion, health etc).

Reading for relaxation and enjoyment is a useful study strategy because although you are not focusing on learning the language, you still learn by seeing examples of sentence structures, phrases and vocabulary.

If you are reading for relaxation and enjoyment, it is not necessary to make notes or add new vocabulary to your notebook (this is more suitable when you are reading for study purposes). If you really want to know the meaning of a new word, write it down quickly and use your dictionary later. This way you can continue to relax and enjoy reading without feeling that you must learn every new word.

Reading to gain information

Reading to gain information helps you expand your knowledge of different topics and related vocabulary. You can do this by reading magazine and newspaper articles relating to the following IELTS topic areas:

Education
Health and leisure
The arts and entertainment
The environment
Science and technology
Social issues
Business and work
Government and the law
Development issues
Relationships

Useful English language magazines and newspapers that often feature these topic areas include:

The Economist
The Guardian Weekly
Scientific American

Other English language newspapers

http://www.economist.com/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/
http://www.sciam.com/
http://www.world-newspapers.com

Some websites for radio stations also have transcripts of news reports, interviews and other items, so you can read them while you listen. Two useful websites for this include:

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/index.shtml

Reading to build vocabulary

You can learn new vocabulary by:

Guessing the meaning of a word from the context, that is, by reading the sentences around that word using a dictionary.
You can remember and build your vocabulary by:

a. Writing new words in a vocabulary notebook
b. Practicing and revising new vocabulary regularly.

Guessing the meaning of a word

Guessing the meaning of new words is an extremely important strategy for the IELTS Reading test. Remember that you cannot use a dictionary during the test. Therefore you should always practice guessing the meaning of new words.

Also, when you try to guess the meaning of a word, you are actively thinking about that word and are more likely to remember it.

Use a highlighter or another brightly colour pen to highlight new words while you are reading. When you have finished reading, you can easily locate the vocabulary you have highlighted. Read those parts of the text again and try to guess the meaning of new words by reading the sentences around those words to help you.

 Let’s look at some examples of this in the following text.

The everyday use of mild tranquillisers for their relaxing and calming effect has reached unprecedented proportions in the United States. In fact, a recent survey showed that over 75% of those interviewed admitted to using tranquillisers on a regular basis.

The words tranquillisers and unprecedented proportions might be new to you. Can you guess what they mean by looking at the context (i.e. the sentences in which they appear)? Let’s try this now with the first of these words.

The everyday use of mild tranquillisers for their relaxing and calming effect…

From this sentence we can guess that tranquillisers are something people use to make them feel relaxed and calm.

Now let’s look at the second group of new words.

The everyday use of mild tranquillisers for their relaxing and calming effect has reached unprecedented proportions in the United States. In fact, a recent survey showed that over 75% of those interviewed admitted to using tranquillisers on a regular basis.

From these sentences we can guess that unprecedented proportions might mean ‘a large amount’ (i.e, over 75%). Unprecedented actually means ‘to have never happened before’. Therefore, in the text above, unprecedented indicates that these proportions (over 75%) have never been as high as this before. From this example you can see that our guess is similar to the actual meaning of this word. 

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