One of the first things you learn about teaching is that there are different reading techniques and the students should be aware of which technique is most suited, depending on the reading task required by the text or by their teacher.

Training students to know their reading techniques and deduce when best to apply them is indeed important, especially under exam conditions when time constraints come into play and decisions need to be made depending on time availability and the importance of the task at hand.


The four main types of reading techniques are the following:

  • Skimming
  • Scanning
  • Intensive
  • Extensive

Skimming

Skimming is sometimes referred to as gist reading. Skimming may help in order to know what the text is about at its most basic level. You might typically do this with a magazine or newspaper and would help you mentally and quickly shortlist those articles which you might consider for a deeper read. You might typically skim to search for a name in a telephone directory.

You can reach a speed count of even 700 words per minute if you train yourself well in this particular method. Comprehension is of course very low and understanding of overall content very superficial.

Scanning

Picture yourself visiting a historical city, guide book in hand. You would most probably just scan the guide book to see which site you might want to visit. Scanning involves getting your eyes to quickly scuttle across sentence and is used to get just a simple piece of information. Interestingly, research has concluded that reading off a computer screen actually inhibits the pathways to effective scanning and thus, reading of paper is far more conducive to speedy comprehension of texts.

Something students sometimes do not give enough importance to is illustrations. These should be included in your scanning. Special attention to the introduction and the conclusion should also be paid.

Intensive Reading

You need to have your aims clear in mind when undertaking intensive reading. Remember this is going to be far more time consuming than scanning or skimming. If you need to list the chronology of events in a long passage, you will need to read it intensively. This type of reading has indeed beneficial to language learners as it helps them understand vocabulary by deducing the meaning of words in context. It moreover, helps with retention of information for long periods of time and knowledge resulting from intensive reading persists in your long term memory.

This is one reason why reading huge amounts of information just before an exam does not work very well. When students do this, they undertake neither type of reading process effectively, especially neglecting intensive reading. They may remember the answers in an exam but will likely forget everything soon afterwards.

Extensive reading

Extensive reading involves reading for pleasure. Because there is an element of enjoyment in extensive reading it is unlikely that students will undertake extensive reading of a text they do not like. It also requires a fluid decoding and assimilation of the text and content in front of you. If the text is difficult and you stop every few minutes to figure out what is being said or to look up new words in the dictionary, you are breaking your concentration and diverting your thoughts.

Is the ability to learn and assimilate information genetic?

It is not uncommon for people to associate intelligent or bright kids with their equally intelligent parents. Often children of parents exercising a profession appear to be more intelligent. However, it is important to note first and foremost, that academic intelligence is only one form of intelligence and even a university professor who scores high on academic intelligence, might be the most impractical person, finding it difficult to pragmatically solve problems to simple everyday tasks. The notion of intelligence is an extremely complex and diverse one and to pin it into just a single word means whipping out the multitude of connotations and meanings that it actually embodies.

Scientists have found no plausible relationship between our genes and our ability to learn or our intelligence. There is no genetic DNA test that can predict intelligence because intelligence is due to your environment. It is likely that children with parents who exercise a profession appear more intelligent because their parents directly or directly encourage it. Likely, it is also evident that parents who neglect their children and do not enforce their schooling commitments (doing their homework, study periods etc) will perform less well in school and appear “less intelligent”.  Again, it is evident why children who have had no opportunity for schooling might be considered anything but “intelligent”.

Karl McDonald is a free lance writer who enjoys writing about a variety of topics. Topics of special interest include genetic DNA tests, prenatal testing, statistical research and research methodology. The author regularly contributes informative and/or scientific articles to a number of blogs and info sites.