Reading speed is important for most Chinese learners, not only because it's an important factor in HSK tests, but also because reading faster is useful in general. If you read for fun, you can enjoy more texts, and if you read for other purposes, you can achieve more without spending more time. For learners of Chinese, there are several potential problems, and below this article is going to discuss them in the most likely order they will appear.
Character and word recognition 字词认知
In order to read Chinese, you need to be able to understand Chinese characters. In other words, you need to build up your vocabulary to include most of the common characters and words.
Word and sentence parsing 词句解析
Chinese is different from most alphabet-based languages in that there is no spacing between words. For Chinese people, this doesn't cause any reading problems, but for foreigners learning Chinese, it can be tricky. If you have three characters you don't know, X Y and Z, it's hard to know where the word boundary is, and you need that to be able to look up the word. Is X a word and YZ another? Or is it XY and Z? Or is XYZ a three-character word?
中文不同于大部分以字母为基础的语言，它的词语之间没有空隙。对中国人来说，这不会引起任何阅读障碍，但是对于外国中文学习者，这还是很棘手的。要是有三个词你不认识(如X, Y, Z), 那么很难摸清词语的界线在哪，你就必须去翻阅字典。X是单独一个词而YZ是另一个词？或XY和Z？又或是XYZ是个三字词语？
If X, Y and Z are all new characters, the text you're reading is too difficult. When practising, the easiest way to avoid this problem is to read digitally and use pop-up dictionaries. This saves you an awful lot of time. You will only get faster at reading if you practise reading, spending most of the time with your nose in a dictionary won't help.
要是X, Y, Z全是新字词，那你阅读的文本难度太大。练习的时候，避免这类问题最简单的方法是阅读电子书并使用弹出式字典，这会省下非常多的时间。只有你练习阅读才能提高阅读速度，总是一股脑儿扎在字典里都是徒劳。
The only way to learn to handle word and sentence parsing in Chinese is to read so much that you can see the words even if there are no spaces. If you see the word 中国 (zhōngguó) "China" in a text, you can be reasonably sure that it's a word.
Once you have seen these two characters together enough times, your brain will be able to pick them out and treat them as a word.
When you can do that for all common words, reading will become much easier.
Unknown characters and words 生词
The biggest enemy of reading speed is characters or words that you don't understand. Improving your character and word knowledge is of course more easily said than done. Apart from reading more, you can use flashcard apps and quiz yourself on words, characters, phrases and sentences. You can also reread texts, both to review the language in it and to reduce the time it takes you to connect the printed characters with meanings.
Read more 多读
The only real way of achieving reasonable reading speed is to read more. There are few shortcuts. Of course, it helps being aware of what your problem is, but in the end, it's still the amount of practice that counts.
Translated from: about.com
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