How reading strategies help in the acquisition of a second language

Reading is the process of building meaning by interacting with a text; and a strategy " is a plan selected deliberately by the reader to accomplish a particular goal". [ Paris, Lipson & Wixon, 1983]

In language learning this goal is to understand the meaning of a particular text and to build the student's vocabulary pool in order to become fluent at some point.

1- As with Listening Strategies, the first thing is to choose the text to be read and start practising these pre-reading strategies. They will allow you to get a sense of what the text is about, and how it is organised.

* Pay attention to where this text is extracted from: a book?, a newspaper ?, a magazine?

* See what you can learn from the headlines, the introduction.

* Skim through the content. This will help you have an idea of the background of the story, and have a feel of the phrases, sentences and words used.

* Take notes of any unfamiliar words you find.

* Place the text in its historical and cultural context. The expressions will be different when reading a contemporary text from some extract in a classical genre for example.

2- While you are reading:

* Highlight unfamiliar words. Don't look them up just yet. Use the context to help you understand the content. This is a strategy use a lot by effective language learners and you should train yourself at becoming excellent at using contextual clues.

* Write down questions when reading the text for the first time. Try do this in your own words.

3- After reading for the first time:

* Look for the words in a dictionary in your target language ( not a bilingual one). Write the definitions down in your target language or use drawings or pictures to identify them. The aim is to help you think in your target language.

* You've already identified the main ideas, now write them down. Don't copy the text.

* Re-read the text, this time aloud. You should have a better understanding of it.

If you want to make the most of your reading, try to complement it.

* upload your new vocabulary in your vocab notebook or App and learn it. Space repetition is the best at making sure these become part of your long term memory.

* To improve your pronunciation try to make a recording of yourself reading the passage and pay attention to the words that are mispronounced and need more work done on them.

Remember that reading, listening and speaking are intertwined and are part of a dynamic learning process. The separation of these is purely academic.


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