Reading Strategies for Modern Languages


Reading Strategies for Modern Languages

The readings selected during this semester were designed with two purposes in mind:

(1) To provide information you are capable of understanding.
(2) To give you confidence in reading in the language you are studying.

Before reading, you should determine what your purpose for reading is, as this will change the way that you read.  There are many ways that we can read:

(a) We can skim a passage to determine if it meets our interests.
(b) We can scan it to see if it has particular information that we are looking for.
(c) We can read it in depth for complete understanding.

Before you start to read, look at the activities provided with the reading passage to see what your goal is. If you are supposed to skim for general comprehension or scan for specific information, but you try to read for complete understanding, you may experience a frustration that was not intended! Likewise, if you only scan an article but the questions require complete comprehension, you may be unable to answer them. Determine your purpose before reading, then read as necessary with that purpose in mind.

In general, while reading in class with the whole group or on your own, get yourself in the habit of incorporating the following reading strategies:

1. Cues: Look at the title, photos, illustrations, and any other cues outside the main text for an introduction to what the reading is about.

2. Cognates: Scan the text for cognates and familiar words. Use cognates to make predictions about content, to guide your imagination, and to help you to anticipate.

3. Main Idea: Pay attention to the first paragraph—it will present the main idea of the reading. The remaining paragraphs develop the main idea with more details.

4. Context: Use context to make intelligent guesses regarding unfamiliar words.

5. Visualize: Picture the story instead of trying to translate it in your mind as you go.

6. Global Reading: Read several times. First reading, focus on the main idea. Second reading, clarify the main idea and notice important details.  Third reading, answer questions and relate content to your own experiences.

7. Active Reading: Be an active reader. Anticipate, predict. An active reader asks him/herself questions: Why is this said? Who says it?  An active reader predicts the outcome and incorporates clues to reformulate predictions as s/he continues to read.

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