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Reading skill



Reading is the receptive skill in the written mode. It can develop independently of listening and speaking skills, but often develops along with them, especially in societies with a highly-developed literary tradition. Reading can help build vocabulary that helps listening comprehension at the later stages, particularly.


Here are some of the micro-skills involved in reading. The reader has to:

  • decipher the script. In an alphabetic system or a syllabary, this means establishing a relationship between sounds and symbols. In a pictograph system, it means associating the meaning of the words with written symbols.
  • recognize vocabulary.
  • pick out key words, such as those identifying topics and main ideas.
  • figure out the meaning of the words, including unfamiliar vocabulary, from the (written) context.
  • recognize grammatical word classes: noun, adjective, etc.
  • detect sentence constituents, such as subject, verb, object, prepositions, etc.
  • recognize basic syntactic patterns.
  • reconstruct and infer situations, goals and participants.
  • use both knowledge of the world and lexical and grammatical cohesive devices to make the foregoing inferences, predict outcomes, and infer links and connections among the parts of the text.
  • get the main point or the most important information.
  • distinguish the main idea from supporting details.
  • adjust reading strategies to different reading purposes, such as skimming for main ideas or studying in-depth.

Context for this page:

Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

Page content last modified: 15 September 1998

© 1999 SIL International