Read with understanding | The Manila Times

It is not enough to read and write. You have to read with understanding, understand what is being said, discern reality, nuances, hyperbole, untruths and fantasies. But above all, reading is about getting to know the world, the breadth of human knowledge, the beauty of nature, the reason and color of different cultures, and the range of possibilities in life. It can also entertain with the other factors.

The crisis of our current education system has been underscored by the way our young people do not understand what they read. This incomprehension which must become the basis of discernment and the capacity for judgment makes the child step back in life. It is also a great obstacle to learning what needs to be learned. It will leave the child, the adult, the citizen, the voter, the worker and the professional, the person of the 21st century unable to cope, and live fully and confidently in their daily lives.

Once upon a time there was a teacher, and my best students were those who read and understood what they read. With them, one could go from having to read to discussing the subject and its implications, conclusions, possibilities, without having to repeat what had been read but going further in the areas of reflection and questions on the subject. It was learning.


One of the issues regarding reading comprehension here is language. If the text is in English and the student does not have enough English, there will be a problem to understand it. However, even in one of the other languages ​​like Filipino or Ilonggo, if the student has not had enough exposure to reading texts in these languages, there could be a similar problem. Although one can read texts, they can be in the language one knows, but, as they are compositions, they are not quite the same as the spoken language with its shortcuts and its inattention to the grammar. It is therefore necessary to become familiar with the texts and their reading. With time, patience, and hard work, the above problems can be solved by reading exercises.

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Teaching the normal student to read is a pedagogical task of recognizing letters together as words and understanding them. There are brilliant ones who manage to read after a bit of tutoring, usually those who have already been exposed to books or had stories read to them when they were toddlers. Now that online courses are the norm, teaching reading and comprehension is at a disadvantage. It cannot be said whether the student reads and understands, which can usually only be observed face to face. In these circumstances, I think there has been a step backwards in an already worrying situation, which is regrettable.

What seems obvious is that more time and effort should be devoted to teaching reading, which includes encouraging parents to read to their children before they go to school so that they can follow a story. Reading aloud allows the ear and the mind to be attentive and to understand. There is a recognition, a familiarity with words that have meaning. Because the student reads and hears a language with its vocabulary, the familiarity will carry over to a larger vocabulary and easy articulation for the reader who has taken the time to learn. Those who read more become more eloquent in expressing their thoughts and themselves as well as more adept at critical thinking.

We read and we understand but we must also question, discuss, judge. Like any education, reading impregnates with knowledge, entertains or separates the true from the false as the case may be.

To read with understanding, one must be exposed to books, read them and talk about them. It should be a lifetime activity. Before a reader begins to understand, he must have completed many reading exercises. Simple stories are easy, but more complex topics are more difficult to understand without prior experience in reading and analyzing what is read. So history, science, literature, politics and even languages ​​have to be learned by using lots of books and talking over years of reading and learning.


So it’s about having a world of books and using them, especially for beginning readers. Our schools should have extensive libraries, our cities and towns should have public libraries and book clubs for reading, and discussion should be common not only to students but also to adults. Newspapers and magazines are part of the equation. With the world of print as a subject, there is a wealth of information that becomes an education in itself for the reader.

Reading competitions or games such as Battle of the Books in which groups of students read and relate to each other specific books showing reading prowess as well as comprehension skills could be a fun way to practice to reading comprehension. Book reports are also helpful.

But especially given the current state of reading comprehension, deliberate and forceful teaching steps must be taken to achieve the necessary level of comprehension. Reading well will help a student do well in other subjects. It catalyzes the learning process.

Information and understanding how to use what one reads through analysis and comparison is the next step to achieving critical thinking, an essential quality for navigating modern life with all its choices, its contradictions and complications.

Books that have readers in a value-conscious society create an enlightened citizenry that can tell right from wrong, truth from lies, fact from fiction. Literature especially, if read with discernment, brings out many truths, exposing lies, seeing the realities of life which may have their equivalents in the life the reader lives or observes and understands. It is here that we are humanized. People then see themselves and others more fully without resorting to ignorant stereotypes that create hostility and possible conflict.

If there is an urgent measure to improve our educational system, it is that reading books and emphasizing their understanding should be a priority. Thus, we should provide our schools with a large and varied supply of reading materials and teachers to handle the art of reading as well as thinking about the subjects they encounter. Local and foreign reading materials should be available to develop a universalist perspective that will encourage readers to know and manage life. This will increase the level of education as general ease in understanding what one reads becomes the norm rather than the exception as seems to be the case here now.

Reading online can be helpful with the proper precautions. In addition to books, serious articles from sources such as the media, be it television, radio or periodicals, are available. Following blogs of people with credentials should be acceptable. But so far, social media has shown no valid reading when it comes to opinions, prejudices, troll attacks or historical revisionism. You have to be very particular about what is worth reading and what should be ignored. And that comes from being a reader who understands what’s worth reading and what isn’t, which again comes from experiencing the broad reading habit. Learning to do so is worth it for the individual and society.

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