Teaching Reading Strategies

Language instructors are often frustrated when their students do not automatically transfer the strategies they use when reading in their native language to reading in a language they are learning. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Often it is because learners’ ideas about how to read differ from what they actually do when reading. They think of reading as going word by word through a text, and do not recognize that they actually use skills and strategies to manage and enhance the reading process.

An important function of the language instructor, then, is to help students move past this idea and use top-down strategies as they do in their native language. This means showing learners how to use strategies in two related ways: strategies for increasing reading fluency (learning to read), and strategies for reading effectively (reading to learn).