For the next installment in our series on improving math, reading, spelling and money skills with the help of software, we're going to take a look at reading. I love reading and would easily say it's my favorite pastime. The more you read, the more you find out about the world and the easier spelling becomes, so it's not just an (excellent) form of entertainment. I know that not everybody feels the same way though, which is why I'm going suggest a few tips to make reading easier, quicker, and less intimidating.
The first thing to do is get a book or download a text and start practicing. The benefit of reading online is that you can use a program like Language Reader to help you on your way. You find a text, upload it to the program, and either read along with the speaking Windows characters, or listen to a specific word if you get stuck.
While you are practicing your reading, WikSpeak is a good application to have on hand. If you ever need to look an word up in a traditional dictionary, you'll notice the weird-looking phonetic pronunciation underneath. Unless you're a professional linguist, this 'helpful' pronunciation guide will probably leave you even more confused then when you started, so put the word in question into WikSpeak for both a phonetic 'translation', audio pronunciation and, even better, sound-by-sound guide to phonemes (the sounds that make up words), so you can learn to pronounce them yourself without opening the program the next time you need to look something up.
To get the most out of this practice though, you'll need a few guidelines. In general terms, pick books suitable for your level, not your age, and make sure you have a private place to practice - somewhere that you won't mind reading out loud if necessary. Again, the BBC is a great place to look for tips, while there are literally hundreds of reading exercises with questions and comprehension tests sprinkled across the Internet - look here, here and here for inspiration.
Once you have nailed the basics, it will be time to speed things up. AceReader Pro is a trial program, but even so, it provides really valuable help to speed up your reading and test your progress. As all of these resources keep reminding, the key to being a great reader is short, frequent periods of practice, a positive attitude and a determination to learn. Once you've got them, you're definitely on the path to success!
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Math