Reading for advanced learners

10 READING OBJECTIVES for higher intermediate or advanced learners who wish to study in places of higher education in the UK.

1. Topic / Purpose of written text: Given a general text of average difficulty (relative to vocabulary level & general proficiency of the Ss) and given time to read the text at a speed appropriate to its purpose & type, Ss will be able to give a plausible account of why it was written & who it was written for (global function). They will be able to paraphrase the subject matter in global terms (say what it's about in one sentence).

2. Reading styles - Develop a variety of reading styles appropriate to their present and short-term future reading opurposes and the accompanying text types. Given texts of average difficulty and different reading purposes (reading academic texts, newspapers, timetables etc for information, reviewing a text in a library or bookshop, reading for pleasure), Ss will select reading styles appropriate to each particular text type and reading purpose. (I.e. their stated reading purpose).

3. Learn new language - Given a generous ratio of known: unknown items in a text and the existence of semantic (juxtapositional) and syntactic links between these two categories of item, Ss will develop the ability (of the efficient LT reader) to infer the meaning of unknown words from known context. They will be able to learn new language, using the linguistic context of the text to check their deductions before resorting to a dictionary.

4. To read with conceptual awareness - Given fairly general texts containing fairly common concepts ( a common degree of abstraction), Ss will develop the ability to interpret the author's concepts relating them to their own experiences of the world (conceptual categories) without obviously distorting the author's message. Accuracy can be checked by efficient readers using "think-aloud" techniques (protocol analysis) or through a certain % of correct answers in a MC comprehension test.

5. Understanding relations within sentences. Given a general text of suitable difficulty, Ss will be able to earmark (with 80% accuracy) structural units/sense units at word, phrase and clause levels, relational words and phrases and expressions of modality. They will also be able to say how the position of words, phrases & clauses within the sentence affects the semantic structure (I.e. the meaning realised through their interrelationships)

6. Understanding relations between sentences - Given suitable texts (as defined earlier), Ss should be able to earmark cohesive ties (REFERENCE: anaphora, cataphora, hyponymy, comparison, nominalization etc.) and to identify LOGICAL COHESIVE DEVICES (addition, comparison, contrast, concession, enumeration, exemplification, inference, summary, time, result, reformulation, replacement and transition). In both cases, they should be able to show understanding (through paraphrase or substitution or through MC testing) of the semantic ties between sentences,. They should also be able to show awareness of the cases of inferential bridging through juxtaposition of sentences of a certain type ( where relational markers are omitted).

7. Understanding English paragraph structure: rhetoric - Given suitable texts & time constraints, students should be able to identify three basic patterns of topic development (Linear, Constant Topic, Hyponym). Given fairly regularly constructed paragraphs, they should be able to earmark certain aspects of paragraph structure (e.g. topic sentence, developers, context modulators, concluding sentences) with Y% accuracy.

8. Learning content / Information from text: Sifting main from subordinate points - Given a suitable text which is intended to convey information to readers, having defined the learning task in terms of topic requirements, readers should be able to isolate the main from the subordinate points. Their ability to do this can be measured through a precis OR (in order not to mix receptive with productive learning) an alternative test is for readers to underline the main points.

9. To improve reading speed. Given suitable texts/purposes for reading, readers should be able to read with understanding (Y) using a Comprehension test to measure!) at a speed appropriate to text type and reading purpose.

10. To read with critical awareness - Given suitable texts (time constraints etc), Ss will be able to read with understanding of meanings which are not literally stated as well as those which are: (attitudes, values, hidden intentions of writer - Affective domain). They will also bring their own attitudes, values, knowledge and experience to bear on what is asseted by the author, actively questioning rather than passively accepting.


1. TOPIC/PURPOSE OF WRITTEN TEXT: Global reading comprehensions Qs: what is it about? Who is it written for? Where would yo see a text like this - in an X or Y? Find the title with MC of 4 alternative titles.

2. READING STYLES v TEXT TYPES: Set tasks. Limit time. Supply the variety of text types: dictionary page, telephone directory, train timetable, bank statement, tube map.

3. LEARN NEW LANGUAGE. Interesting task and an interesting text. Initially with visual support. Later, black out or underline unknown items and then attempt tp provide synonyms. Definition Qs can help focus on half-known items.

4. TO READ WITH CONCEPTUAL AWARENESS: Discussions an follow-up to reading. "I Think You Think". Newspaper items and reports can help explore Ss' experiences of concepts of a general nature, can develop word fields/networks.

5. UNDERSTANDING RELATIONS WITHIN SENTENCES: Direct reference questions: Wh,, Some formal identification of noun phrases & verb phrases. See "Meaning & The English Verb".

6. UNDERSTANDING RELATIONS BETWEEN SENTENCES: Reference: Vocabulary building exercises: synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy (Superordinates: sorting words into categories). Underlining anaphoric/cataphoric markers and their referents.
Logical Cohesive Devices - c.f. Grellet's "Developing Reading Skills" Jumbled Paragraphs. Also Byrne's list of logical cohesive devices & your exercises.

7. UNDERSTANDING PARAGRAPH STRUCTURE: Earmarking different patterns of topic development. Linear/Constant/Hypertheme. See "Given & New Paragraph Development Models TESOL 18.3.84 and "From Paragraph To Essay" Imhoof & Hudson.

8. LEARNING CONTENT: SIFTING MAIN FROM SUB POINTS: See Widdowson's "Reading & Thinking In English". Readers fail to sifte main from sub pts when they lose track of their reading purpose. Remedy: emphasize the task before reading.
See also the guided note-taking frames in "Listening Comprehension & Note-taking" James/Jordan & Matthews - can be adapted for teaching the reading skill. Note-taking frames and fill ins can equally be used for notes based on reading passages.

9. TO IMPROVE READING SPEED: See Mosback & Mosback "Practical Faster Reader". Conversion tables: length of text: reading time: reading speed. Note: not all books on the market take reading purposes into account.
Pugh's technique of teacher reading aloud to Ss who follow in their books: from 60 to 90 w.p.m. and the improvement was maintained. But perhaps this is contrary to good reading habits - discarding etc?

10. TO READ WITH CRITICAL AWARENESS: Discussion questions on tone, attitudes, ideas, different angles of vision can help to remove the image of "book or text as bible of truth". Comparing "Sun" & "Guardian" reports on the same news event.
c.f. Glasgow Media Group's "Good News Bad News" Projects on advertising. Bell's "Syntax & Semantics of News Editing" could be adapted for use in the follow-up phase of a reading lesson.

Writing essays

Link to Royal Literacy Fund for practice in academic writing (essay and paragraph) for learners using English as the medium for study at UK universities.