Reading: Why do we teach … ?

Reading Sub-skills – What are they and what do they achieve?


Prediction would be considered a ‘pre-reading’ task, in which you may ask the students what you think a piece of text may be about. This is an example of ‘top-down’ teaching, whereby you are building up a picture of what the text is about before the students read.

This then gives the students internal questions about their predictions, so that when they do read the text those predictions can be confirmed or rejected. This is a key process for how we read.


Scanning is a method of reading in which you are reading a text for the purpose finding something specific. Examples of scanning maybe when you are looking through a phone book for a telephone number, you do not read all the names, you scan through them to find the required one.

In a teaching contexts, this achieves a great deal. It allows you, the teacher, to introduce a text and some key vocabulary without the students getting bogged down with the meaning of every word and sentence.


Skimming is another really important sub-skill to practice, it is when we read a text to get an overall understanding of all the text. We do not pick out every single detail, but we read enough to glean a broad knowledge of a text.


Inference is a reading strategy that involves using prior knowledge, read knowledge and understanding of language in general to work out the meaning words within a text that are unknown. This is an important skill because it will speed up the process of understanding a text.


Deduction is another important skill used for understanding a text.  It is when we use clues in the text to understand what is happening. For example, “The man was walking down the street wearing shorts, t-shirt and sandals on his feet”. From this we can deduce that it is a sunny, hot day.

This is an important skill for the students to develop to enhance their understanding of texts.


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