Topic: Reading Skills



  • Promote reading skills for reading different purposes.

  • Encourage to read extensively outside the classroom with minimal guidance.


Learning outcome:

  • Reading component emphasizes on basic words, phrase and sentence recognition to retrieval of precise information from the text and response to the text.

What is reading?

Reading involves understanding the context and uses it to recognise the words and its meaning with the use of prior knowledge to interpret what one reads. Below is a quotation by (Nuttall, 1980, pg.21) about reading.

“To enable students to read with enjoyment, without help unfamiliar authentic texts, at appropriate speed, silently and with adequate understanding.”


Developing comprehension skills.

Barret Taxonomy points out features of developing reading comprehension skills.


This list is cited from (Chitravelu, Sithamparam & Teh ,1995, pgs.92-93).

Simplified form of Barrett’s Taxonomy

  1. Literal recognition or recall

This involves understanding of information that is explicitly stated in the text. Such questions ensure that the views and information overtly expressed in the text are understood.

  1. Inference

This involves drawing conclusions not stated in the text but implied by the facts given. The reader uses knowledge of linguistic implications, logic or previous knowledge of related situations in arriving at his conclusions. For example like inferring of main ideas, supporting details, sequence, cause-effect relationships and predicting outcomes.

  1. Evaluation

Judgments about whether something is real or imaginary, whether it is appropriate, worthwhile, acceptable and desirable. Evaluation involves values and therefore is usually no “correct” answer to questions involving evaluation. Such questions provide good opportunities for exchange of views and interpretations. They can be enjoyable.

  1. Appreciation

Examples are like an emotional response to a plot or theme or reactions to the author’s usage of language. Appreciation involves the taste. Again, there are no “correct” answers. Opportunities for exchange of views and interpretations again make these questions very enjoyable.



Integrating Reading Strategies:


Three basic phases of reading are pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading.


According to Lewis (2004) reading skills can be divided into three phases which are

stated below:


Pre-reading phase: Preparation for the reading task.

  • Set a purpose in advance what to read.

  • Choose whether more linguistic or background knowledge is needed.

  • Approach the text using top down method (overall meaning) or bottom up (concentrate on certain words or phrases).

  • This is done to stimulate interest and to predict about the content.


While-reading phase: Examine comprehension passage.

  • Validate guesses and verify inaccuracies.

  • Choose important points to further comprehend the passage.

  • Re-read to answer questions, stimulus for discussion, and source of information or solving problems.


Post-reading phase: Assess comprehension and approach used.

  • Assess comprehension based on the given task or questions.

  • Assess the passage on the whole.

  • Decide whether approach used was relevant.




 Types of questions that are available in a comprehension exercise.


As students read the list of comprehension questions attached together in a comprehension passage, literal (direct) questions like What, Who, When and inferential (indirect) questions like Why, What, What if and How would be visible on the list of questions.


According to Raphael & Au ( 2004) highlights that there are four different levels questions that are available which are “Right There”, “Think and Search”, “Author and You” and “on Your Own”.


  1. Right There

The answer is direct and easily found.

The similar words are used to make up the question and the answer.

Which year did Malaysia gained independence?

Malaysia gained independence in 1957.


  1. Think and Search

The answer is in the passage but the reader is required to combine two or more paragraphs in order to answer the question.

Choice of words for the question and the answer are dissimilar.

What are the primary organs for the respiratory system?

The lung and heart make up the respiratory system.


  1. Author and You.

The answer is not directly mentioned but it is implied in the text?

Link the background knowledge of the reader together with the information in the text.

Using a pie-chart, give reasons for the fall in sales of imported cars in 2008?

I think in 2008, the economy crisis hit most of the nations across the globe.


  1. On my own.

Prior knowledge and experiences are required because the answers are not given in the text?

The answer for this question can be answer without having to read the text.

Why is it a good idea to use a hybrid car?

It is environmentally friendly and consumes lesser fuel.




Ways to read quickly and effectively.

Following list was cited from (Chitravelu, Sithamparam  & Teh, 1995,pgs. 92,93 and 109)



  1. Distinguish structures and words from the paragraph.

  2. Predicting outcomes, guessing meaning using contextual clues.

  3. Apply reading strategy like whether to skim some parts of the text or to or to read the whole text carefully.

  4. Make connections with the text like being able to recognize conjunction words like this, that one and others.

  5. Understand the relation between the words and logical connectors like as a result, because, after that and finally.

  6. Thinking while reading: ask questions, classify, deduce, form impression and predict.

  7. Having a affective reaction towards the text.

  8. Building up familiarity with many different kinds of texts the students is likely to need to read English which are road signs, advertisements, textbooks and travel brochures.





 Chitravelu,N.,Sithamparam,S.& Teh, S.C.( 1995).ELT Methodology, Principles and Practice. Malaysia: Penerbit Fajar Bakti. pgs.92,93 and 109.


Lewis,C.(2004). Monitoring Comprehension: Teaching Comprehension Strategies to

   Studenrs.US Department of Education.  Retrieved on 27th February, 2006.

    Available at


Nutall, C. (1982). Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language. London:ELBS/

                 Heinemann Education Books: pg.21.


Raphael, T.E. & Au, H.K. (2004).Question- Answer Relationships: What’s New? IRA

                featured session. Retrieved on 18th May, 2009 from


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