ChapterPDF Available

Teaching Reading : Goals and Techniques



Reading is an activity with a purpose. A person may read in order to gain information or verify existing knowledge, or in order to critique a writer's ideas or writing style. A person may also read for enjoyment , or to enhance knowledge of the language being read. The purpose for reading also determines the appropriate approach to reading comprehension. The communicative approach to language teaching has given instructors a different understanding of the role of reading in the language classroom and the type of texts that can be used in instruction.
Teaching Reading : Goals and Techniques
1. Dr Sheeba 2. Dr. Mohd. Hanif Ahmad
Assistant Professor Assistant Professor
Majmaah University, KSA MANUU, Hyderabad
Email id:
About the Author
Dr. Sheeba, presently working as an Assistant Professor in Majmaah University,
Majmaah KSA. She has been taught Communication Skills in Aligarh Muslim
University for eight years as guest faculty. Her areas of interest are ESP, Phonetics
and Spoken English, Study skills etc. She has many publications on teaching and
learning skills of English Language in different International Journals.
Abstract- Reading is an activity with a purpose. A person may read in order to
gain information or verify existing knowledge, or in order to critique a writer’s
ideas or writing style. A person may also read for enjoyment , or to enhance
knowledge of the language being read. The purpose for reading also determines
the appropriate approach to reading comprehension . The communicative approach
to language teaching has given instructors a different understanding of the role of
reading in the language classroom and the type of texts that can be used in
Key Words : Reading, Texts, comprehend, Process, Strategies, Authentic Material.
Introduction: Reading is a complex “cognitive process” of decoding
symbols in order to construct or derive meaning. Reading is a means of
language acquisition, communication and of sharing information and ideas.
The purpose for reading also determines the appropriate approach to reading
comprehension . A person who needs to know whether she can afford to eat
at a particular restaurant needs to comprehend the pricing information
Page 1 of 11
provided on the menu, but does not need to recognize the name of every
appetizer listed. A person reading poetry for enjoyment needs to recognize
the words the poet uses and the ways they are put together, but does not need
to identify main idea and supporting details. However, a person using a
scientific article to support an opinion needs to know the vocabulary that
use, understand the facts and cause-effect sequences that are presented, and
recognize ideas that are presented as hypotheses and givens.
Reading research shows that good readers
Read extensively
Integrate information in the text with existing knowledge
Have a flexible reading style, depending on what they are reading
Are motivated
Rely on different skills interacting: perceptual processing, phonemic
processing, recall
Read for a purpose; reading serves a function
Reading as a process-
Reading is an interactive process that goes on between the reader and the text,
resulting in comprehension . The text presents letters , words , sentences and
paragraphs that encode meaning. The reader uses knowledge, skills and
strategies to determine what that meaning is.
Reader knowledge , skills and strategies include-
Linguistic competence- ability to recognize the elements of the writing system;
knowledge of vocabulary and how words are structured into sentences.
Discourse competence- knowledge of discourse markers and how they connect
parts of the texts to one another.
Sociolinguistics competence- knowledge about different types of texts and
their usual structure and content.
Strategic competence-the ability to use top-down strategies as well as
knowledge of the language . Reading comprehension is thus much more than
decoding. Reading comprehension results when the reader knows which skill
Page 2 of 11
and strategies are appropriate for the type of texts , and understand how to apply
them to accomplish the reading purpose.
Goals and Techniques for Teaching Reading-
Reading Process- It can develop student’s awareness of the reading process
and reading strategies by asking students to think and talk about how they read
in their native language.
- Allow students to practice the full repertoire of reading strategies by
using reading material.
- Students practice reading strategies in classin their reading
assignments . It encourage students to be conscious of what they are
doing while they complete reading assignments.
Integrating Reading Strategies- Instructors can help their students to become
more effective readers by teaching them how to use strategies before, during and
after reading.
Before Reading – plan for the reading task. Set a purpose in advance what to read
for. Discuss if more linguistic or background knowledge is needed.
During and after Reading- Verify predictions and check for inaccurate guesses
Decide what is and is not important to understand.
Reread to check comprehension
Ask for help.
After Reading- Evaluate comprehension and strategy use.
Evaluate comprehension in a particular task or area .
Modify strategies if necessary
Using Authentic Material and Approach-
For students to develop communicative competence in reading , classroom and
homework reading activities must resemble real-life reading tasks that involve
meaningful communication.
Page 3 of 11
The reading material must be authentic. It must be the kind of material that
students will need and want to be able to read when travelling, studying abroad, or
using the language in other contexts outside the classroom.
Rather than simplifying a text by changing its language , make it more
approachable by eliciting student’s existing knowledge in pre-reading discussion,
reviewing new vocabulary before reading and asking students to perform tasks that
are within their competence, such as skimming to get the main idea or scanning for
specific information , before they begin intensive reading.
2. The reading purpose must be authentic . Students must be reading for reasons
that make sense and relevance to them.
3. The reading approach must also be authentic. Students should read the text in
such a way that matches the reading purpose, the type of text, and the way people
normally read.
Strategies for developing reading skills
Strategies that can help students read more quickly and effectively include
Previewing : reviewing titles, section headings, and photo captions to get a
sense of the structure and content of a reading selection
Predicting: using knowledge of the subject matter to make predictions about
content and vocabulary and check comprehension ; using knowledge of the
text type and purpose to make predictions about discourse structure ; using
knowledge about the author to make predictions about writing , vocabulary
and content.
Skimming and scanning: using a quick survey of text to get the main idea,
identifying text structure , conform or question predictions
Guessing from context: using prior knowledge of the subject and the ideas
in the text as clues to the meanings of unknown words , instead of stopping
to look them up.
Paraphrasing : stopping at the end of a section to check comprehension by
restating the information and ideas in the text.
Page 4 of 11
Instructors can help students learn when and how to use reading strategies in
several ways.
By modeling the strategies aloud , talking through the processes of
reviewing, predicting , skimming and scanning, and paraphrasing. This
shows students how the strategies work and how much they can know about
a text before they begin to read word by word.
By allowing time in class for group and individual previewing and
predicting activities as preparation for in- class or out of class reading.
By using cloze (fill in the blanks) exercises to review vocabulary items.
This help students learn to guess meaning from context.
By encouraging students to talk about what strategies they think will help
them approach a reading assignment, and then talking after reading about
what strategies they actually used.
Reading to Learn
Reading is an essential part of language instruction at every level because it
supports learning in multiple ways.
Reading to learn the language: Reading material is language input. By
giving students a variety of materials to read, instructors providemultiple
opportunities for students to absorb vocabulary , grammar ,sentence
structure and discourse structure as they occur in authentic contexts.
Reading for content information: Reading for content information in the
language classroom gives students both authentic reading material and an
authentic purpose for reading.
Reading for cultural knowledge and awareness: Reading everyday materials
that are designed for native speakers can give students insight into the
lifestyles and worldviews of the people whose language they are studying.
When students have access to newspapers , magazines, and Web sites, they are
exposed to culture in all its variety, and monolithic cultural stereotypes begin to
break down.
Page 5 of 11
When reading to learn, students need to follow four basic steps:
1. Figure out the purpose for reading.
2. Attend to the parts of the text that are relevant to the identified purpose and
ignore the rest. This selectivity enables students to focus on specific items in the
input and reduces the amount of information they have to hold in short term
3. Select strategies that are appropriate to the reading task and use them flexibly
and interactively.
4. Check comprehension while reading and when the reading task is completed.
Developing Reading Activities
A fully developed reading activity support students as readers through pre-reading,
while reading, and post reading activities. Reading activities that are meant to
increase communicative competence should be success oriented and build up
students’ confidence in their reading ability.
Construct the reading activity around a purpose that has significant for the
Make sure students understand what the purpose for reading is : to get the main
idea, obtain specific information, understand most or all of the message, enjoy a
story, or decide whether or not to read more.
Check the level of difficulty of the text.
How is the information organized?
How familiar are the students with the topic?
Does the text contain redundancy?
Does the text offer visual support to aid in reading comprehension?
Does the text contain redundancy?
Does the text offer visual support to aid in reading comprehension? Visual
aids such as photographs, maps, and diagrams help students preview the
content of the text, guess the meaning of unknown words, and check
comprehension while reading.
Page 6 of 11
Use pre-reading activities to prepare students for reading
The activity use during pre-reading may serve as preparation in several ways.
During pre-reading you may:
Assess students’ background knowledge of the topic and linguistic content
of the text.
Give students the background knowledge necessary for comprehension of
the text, or activate the existing knowledge that the students possess.
Clarify any cultural information which may be necessary to comprehend the
Make students aware of the type of text they will be reading and the purpose
for reading
Provide opportunities for group or collaborative work and for class
discussion activities.
Sample pre-reading activities:
Using the title , subtitles, and divisions within the text to predict content and
organization or sequence of information
Looking at pictures , maps, diagrams or
graph and their captions
Talking about the author’s background , writing style , and usual topics
Skimming to find the theme or main idea and eliciting related prior
Reviewing vocabulary or grammatical structures
Reading over the comprehension questions to focus attention on finding that
information while reading
Constructing semantic webs
Doing guided practice with guessing meaning from context or checking
comprehension while reading.
Pre-reading activities are most important at lower levels of language proficiency
and at earlier stages of reading instruction.
Match while –reading activities to the purpose for reading
Page 7 of 11
In while- reading activities, students check their comprehension as they read. The
purpose for reading determines the appropriate type and level of comprehension.
When reading for specific information,
When reading for pleasure , Do I understand the story of ideas well enough
to enjoy reading this?
When reading for thorough understanding students need to ask themselves
Do I understand each main idea and how the author supports it?
Using Textbook Reading Activities
Many language textbooks emphasize product over process , providing little or no
contextual information about the reading selections or their authors, and few if any
pre-reading activities. You can use the guidelines for developing reading activities
given here as starting points for evaluating and adapting textbook reading
activities. Use existing , or add your own , pre-reading activities and reading
strategy practice as appropriate for your students. Another problem with reading
selections is that they have been adapted to a predetermined reading level through
adjustment of vocabulary, grammar , and sentence length. This makes them more
immediately approachable , but it also means that they are less authentic and do not
encourage students to apply the reading strategies that they will need to use outside
the class.
Assessing Reading Proficiency
Reading ability is very difficult to assess accurately. In the communicative
competence model, a student’s reading level is the level at which that student is
able to use reading to accomplish communication goals.
Reading aloud
A student’s performance when reading aloud is not a reliable indicator of that
student’s reading ability. A student who is perfectly capable of understanding a
given text when reading it silently with word recognition and speaking ability in
the way that reading aloud requires. However, reading aloud can help a teacher
Page 8 of 11
assess whether a student “seeing” word endings and other grammatical features
when reading. Ask the student to read a sentence silently one or more times, until
comfortable with the content .This procedure allow the student to process the text ,
and let you see the results of that processing.
Comprehension Questions
Instructors often use comprehension questions to test whether students have
understood what they have read. In order to test comprehension appropriately ,
these questions need to be coordinated with the purpose of reading. If the purpose
is to find the specific information , comprehension questions should focus on that
In everyday reading situations , readers have a purpose for reading before they
start. To make reading assessment in the language classroom more like reading
outside the of the classroom, therefore allow students to review the comprehension
questions before they begin to read the test passage.
Finally when the purpose for reading is enjoyment , comprehension questions are
beside the point .
Research indicates that we built comprehension through the teaching of
comprehension strategies and environment that support an understanding of text.
Teaching reading comprehension is an active process of constructing meaning, not
skill application. The act of constructing meaning is-
Interactive- text and context involvement
Strategic- Purpose for reading
Adaptable- different text for different purposes.
Real Reading- When you read text and think at the same time you are “real
reading” or being metacognitive( as the meaning you get from a piece of literature
that is interwined with the meaning you bring to it.) In reading, synthesizing is the
process of recalling, ordering and recreating into a coherent whole the information
with which our minds are bombarded everyday.
Page 9 of 11
Conclusion: For many years , comprehension is the only reason for reading.
Without comprehension , reading is a frustrating, pointless exercise in word
calling. It is no exaggeration to say that how well students develop the ability to
comprehend what they read has a profound effect on their entire lives.
Comprehension instruction followed what the study called mentioning, practicing
and assessing procedure where teachers mentioned a specific skill by completing
work book pages. It is plausible that preparation in the nature of the foundational
reading skills and research- based instructional approaches would improve
teacher’s practice to a degree that would be evident in earning outcomes for their
1.) Allington, R. L. (2001). What really matters for struggling readers. New York:
2.) Buehl, D. (2001). Classroom strategies for interactive learning (2nd ed.).
Newark, DE: International Reading Association
3.) Durkin, D. (2004). Teaching them to read (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
4.) Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work: Teaching
comprehension to enhance understanding. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
5.) Krashen, S. (1993). The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research.
Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
6. ) Miller, D. (2002). Reading with meaning. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
7. )Paris, S. How to teach and assess reading comprehension. Retrieved May 16,
2007, Web site:
8.) Routman, R. (2002). Reading essentials: the specifics you need to teach reading
well. Heinemann.
Page 10 of 11
9.) Swartz, S.L., et al. (2003). Guided reading and literacy centers. Carlsbad, CA:
Dominie Press.
10.) Wilhelm, J. D. (2001). Improving reading comprehension with think-aloud
strategies. Jefferson City, MO: Scholastic Professional Books.
11.) Wilhelm, J. D., Baker, T.N., & Hackett, J.D. (2001). Strategic reading:
Guiding students to lifelong literacy 6-12. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.
12.) Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (1989). Strategic Learning in the
Content Areas. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
13.) Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (2000). Wisconsin makes the
connection: Teaching& testing reading comprehension. Madison: Wisconsin
Department of Public Instruction.
14.) Wormeli, R. (2005). Summarization in any subject. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
15. ) Zimmerman, S. & C. Hutchins. (2003). Seven keys to comprehension: How
to help your kids read it and get it! New York: Three Rivers Press.
Page 11 of 11
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.