Read, Understand, and Remember! Improve your reading skills with the KWL Method

By: Learn English with Emma [engVid]

Hello. My name is Emma, and in today's video I am going to teach you how to be a better reader. So I want you to think about your life. Are there any things that are very difficult for you to read? Maybe you have to read something in English and you really don't understand what's happening in the story.

Or maybe you're in university and you're taking a very hard course and you can't read the textbook because it's really difficult and you don't know what's happening. Well, if you're having difficulty reading or even if you just want to remember what you read more and be a better studier, this video is for you. So first let's look at some things students might be reading that might be causing difficulty. Some students in their universities they have to read textbooks. If you go to university or college, or also high school, you have to do a lot of reading and you have to do a lot of complicated reading, especially for sciences, maths, history.

So, this is a very good method. I'm going to teach you how to read these books better. Newspapers. Sometimes you'll be reading the newspaper and it's difficult, especially in another language. So if you're reading a newspaper and, you know, you want to be better at reading it, this video is for you.

Internet sources. There's a lot of great things on the internet to read, and so this will also help you if you look reading things from the internet. Magazines.

Read, Understand, and Remember! Improve your reading skills with the KWL Method

Journals, for anyone who's a professional, whether you're a doctor, a nurse, a historian, or if you're in university or college, a lot of the times you have to read something called a journal, which is something for professionals to read about their field. So it's usually modern research. These things can be very difficult to read, so if you're reading these, this is a great technique for you.

If you're doing the TOEFL or IELTS. Although I wouldn't recommend using this technique on the actual exam, I think it's great for your practice tests and I'll tell you why a bit later. So you can use this when you're practicing for the TOEFL and IELTS.

And finally, if you're reading Shakespeare. When I read Shakespeare I had no idea what was going on. It was very confusing, all of the old English. I found it very difficult to read. There are also a lot of books that can be very, very hard to read. So these techniques will really work for you for any of these situations and many more. So before I teach you about the KWL technique, I just want you to think about reading for a second.

Okay? A lot of people when they pick up a book, that's all they do. They open it up and they start reading right away, and then they close the book and then a lot of the times they don't really remember anything they read or they don't understand what they read. So it's a lot of wasted time. I like to think of reading how I think of jogging or running.

So if we look here, I have the word "running" or "jogging". If you like exercise, any type of exercise kind of follows this format. So, reading is a lot like running. What a good reader does is they have a warm up period. So if you think about running, before you go running you usually stretch.

Maybe you'll do a little bit of movement to get your heart pumped. So you don't just start running. You do a warm up.

The same is true with reading. The best reading... The best readers usually do a warm up. For exercise, people then usually run or jog for a certain amount of time, and then afterwards they have what we call a cooldown period. So, "cooldown" is usually when somebody wants to slow their heartrate, so maybe they walk instead of run, maybe they do more stretches, but they don't just stop what they're doing. They slowly, you know, do slower activities before they stop jogging or running. So if you think about reading like exercise, you should also have a warm up, and then you read, and then the cooldown. This is the meat.

This is the main idea of the KWL method, and I'm going to teach you exactly how we can do all of this when we read. If you do this... The point of this method is it will really, really, really help you to understand what you're reading. You're going to understand a lot more, you're going to also remember a lot more. And for those of you in university, and college, and high school, you're going to have to do less studying because if you read something right the first time, you probably won't have to keep going back again and again and again. So using this method at the beginning will save you a lot of time.

So now let's look at an example of how we can use the KWL method. Okay, so KWL, what does that mean? Well, usually when I read something difficult, I make a chart like this. And under "K", this stands for "Know". What do you already know about what you're going to read? So this is like the warm up of..

Remember we talked about running? This would be like your stretching. Then we have "W". "W" stands for: "What do you want to know?" What do you want to learn? So usually we write a bunch of questions under here, and this is also a part of the warm up. This really gets you thinking about... You know, it makes you pay attention more to what you're reading. And finally, "L" stands for "Learned". This is like the cooldown.

In this area you are going to write: What did you learn from what you've just read? Okay? This is going to really help you with your memory especially. What are some interesting things you learned? Sometimes "L" is based off of what you wanted to know. Maybe you had a question here, and then you can write, you know, the answer to your question if you found it. So anything interesting you learned, you write here. Okay, so let's do an example of this method. So I have a book I've been reading. I don't know if you can see that.

It's Albert Einstein. Now, I'm not really strong in science, but I'm really, really interested in physics and math, but again, for me it's a little bit difficult to read about physics because I don't really have a strong background in it. So when I was reading this book, and I'm not finished yet... But as I'm reading it, I'm actually doing the KWL method. So I want to use this book as an example on how we can use this method. First I wrote: "Know", and I thought about: "Okay. What do I know about Einstein?" So I did this before I read the book. So, what do I know about Einstein? Well, I know something, E = mc2, I know that has to do with Einstein.

I don't actually know what it means, but I always hear: "Einstein, E = mc2" so I'd write that under "Know". I know Einstein has crazy hair. Okay? That's something I know about him.

I know he's considered a genius. I think he was German. He's a scientist. And I heard that he used to write the most romantic love letters, which is strange when you think about Einstein, but I heard he was very romantic.

So these are the things that I already know about Einstein. So now I can think about some questions. What do I want to know about Einstein? Before I read the book, what do I want to know? Well, I know E = mc2, but what does that mean? How do we use that? I have no idea what it really means, so I'm going to write this as want to know. I want to know: How did he discover it? Was he in his lab doing an experiment, and found out E = mc2? Or was he sitting on a beach and suddenly he just thought about it? I'm really interested in: How do you, you know, think about these things? How did he find out about E = mc2? How is this theory used? What is it used for? Do we build things with it? Is it used for...? You know, what kind of science is it used in? How do we use E = mc2? I also heard before that Einstein failed math in high school. I think somebody told me that in high school. I don't know if that's true or not, so I want to know: Did he really fail math? And I have a lot more questions, so I could go on and on, and so I write everything I want to know about the book. So then I sit and I read, and I read, and I read. And while I read, anything that I think is really interesting or something that surprised me, something that I learned, I write here.

So, in the first chapter I learned Einstein was married multiple times. He married and then divorced, and then married again. And he was... He was really romantic. I learned he didn't actually fail high school math.

And I learned he was born in Germany, but became a Swiss citizen. And so I keep writing everything. I'd write what E = mc2 means, but I don't really have space on the board, and I don't want to, you know, complicate this lesson, so... But this is a very, very good technique, again, when you're reading anything, including textbooks, newspapers, magazines, biographies.

This is very, very useful. So I really, really encourage you to try the "K" for "Know" "W" for "Want to know", and "L" for "Learn" method. I hope you come visit our website at There you can actually do a quiz to practice these ideas. It's not on Einstein, don't worry, but it's about reading and how to be a better reader.

So again, this is useful because it will help you remember more, it will make reading easier for you, and you won't have to read the text again and again and again, so it will save you time. Okay? I also hope you come visit our website at because we have a lot of other resources on reading there that you can use. Also, please subscribe to my channel.

Until next time, take care.

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