Reading: Types and Techniques

Comm Skills
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The fundamental feature of life on earth is the assimilation of learning by means of Listening-Speaking-Reading-Writing. Reading and Writing stand for the existence of Language. We are here discussing READING and various techniques to master this academic skill.


Victor Hugo (1802 - 1885) French poet, novelist, and playwright.

The entire contents of a telegram sent to his publishers asking how Les Misérables was selling;

the reply was "!"

There is another example close to my reading and heart by Hemingway where he wrote a poem with punctuation marks alone and the poem speaks a lot to the readers. The readers are left in deep thinking and subsequent introspections.

U.S. poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright Ntozake Shange said:

“Reading, to me, is simply the expansion of one's mind to include some people whom you just didn't get to meet before.”

It is READING! It is a thing one feels happy about and can easily boast of to the world. We say it proudly many times that we can read the face-hands-fortune of someone. We often try to ‘read between the lines’ and prove that we are near to the intended message. Reading remains, apart from the sophisticated activity, a skill that millions have mastered and many have failed to. Many of us doubt whether it possible to perform well in reading too, as it seems something which remains ‘least screened’.

One reads to oneself and the world remains unaware of it. The joy of reading is known to the reader alone. We try to document our understanding in examinations and on various other platforms, yet a good reader is able to tell it what Reading Comprehension is. In an age when less is spoken and more is 'typed and posted' on our social networking profile 'walls', we need to see the gaps we leave. These gaps are in the 'Thought and Expression' of the writer. Ultimately, the writing affects reading and the intended message is not comprehended. To be a better writer, one needs to see through the eyes of a reader who attempts to understand while reading the words and sentences.

Reading comes after Listening in the order of Receptive Communication Skills (LSRW). Thus we shall be knowing 'Listening' as well.

Comprehension Skills are generally divided into two: Listening Comprehension and Reading Comprehension. We have already discussed the former. Let us know more about the well know-less practised skills of reading.

Before we start with reading, we need to know various aspects and dimensions it relates to. We should understand that Reading and Studying mean different according to their usage domains and objectives. It is the functional attributes that make them altogether different yet, completely interrelated. Academically, we need to study and appear for evaluation for the ‘comprehension’ we have gained. The reading speaks more of personal reading where the accountability rests less with the reader and an evaluation of the reader’s understanding of the text is not mandatory. We are more concerned with the Studying aspect of reading here. We shall discuss the ‘Reading of Self’ also.

Reading, activity characterized by the translation of symbols or letters, into words and sentences that have meaning to the individual. The ultimate goal of reading is to be able to understand written material, to evaluate it, and to use it for one's needs.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

Reading is divided into two types based on the way it functions and the level of attention it requires:

  1. Extensive Reading
  2. Intensive Reading

Extensive Reading:  This means reading for pleasure and relaxation. A reader can take any topic of interest and get indulged in self-appeasement. The purpose is to enjoy. Since our childhood, we have been reading comic books, stories, tales, novels and now general studies or specific interest books or other publications. There is no binding on us to read them and appear in some examination. This type of reading does not carry any accountability on the part of the reader and doesn’t invade his pleasure of reading.

Intensive Reading:  As the term, itself states, Intensive is ‘in depth'. This type of reading is careful reading with the utmost concern for the understanding of the text at hand. This is related more to the academic reading that we talk of today and consider as the primary goal of a student. One reads for details and for the collection of information. It is for ‘knowledge’. Specialisation happens through this type of reading. Research Papers, Term Papers. Oral Reports or Project Assignments are prepared and submitted through this reading.

There are a few techniques or methods that are being used for Intensive Reading. Along with the methods, several types of Intensive Reading are also there. Scanning, Skimming, Exploratory Reading, Study Reading, Analytical Reading, Critical Reading, Developmental Reading are a few of them.

We shall have a snapshot look at these Techniques of Reading and Types of Reading:     

Scanning is considered as a helping hand in reading texts that are heavy and need to be searched upon. This works like the Ctrl+F command and is assisted by the keywords to be searched in the given text. Scanning is Rapid Reading with importance in research and preparing reviews. For students, it works as a ‘bullet way’ to locate answers to specific questions. Scanning, basically, works to find answers to the-Wh Questions like What-When-Where-Who and Why.

It is simple to understand the meaning of the term itself. It attempts to get specific information and scans through the available texts.

Skimming: Creating a Condensed Understanding of the given text. This is also rapid reading which focuses on the text Title, Headings, Topical Sentences, Tables and Charts, Figures and Diagrams etc.

While making a decision to purchase a particular issue of a magazine, we tend to look at the content page and quickly ‘travel through’ the pages, reading headings or looking at the images to make a decision. We get an ‘overall idea’ of the publication and it is not like scanning. We take a comprehensive look and skimming takes us back to read the text from tip to toe if the skimmed understanding is impressive. That is why, writing headings, putting titles in academic writings are considered essential.

Visit the following links for more:


BBC English


About the Author
Author: Parveen Sharma Website:
'You Create Yourself' is the belief that drives EklavyaParv! It is a Life Long Learning Mission with firm belief in the philosophy of Eklavyaism. We share learning on Communication Skills, EdTech, Life Skills, Blended & Innovative Learning and Insights about Career, Skills and Lifelong learning. Founded by Parveen Sharma, EklavyaParv is part of various pioneering initiatives like EduSoMedia, EduPodcasts, PodMOOCs and Skill-ogy. He is a faculty of English, Communication Skills with globally acknowledged expertise in EdTech and Innovative Teaching. You can listen to his podcasts on all leading platforms.