Reading Tips

Under the heading Reading Tips you can find a number of reading strategies that will help you to increase your reading efficiency. Reading strategies are steps you take and procedures you apply to get the most from the text.

You can apply these strategies when you read any of the texts you have in the section Reading Corner.


Its goal is to have a general sense of the purpose, organization and features of the reading material before you actually engage in a careful reading.


Skimming is usually defined as quick, superficial reading of a text in order to get the gist of it.


It is looking quickly through the text for a specific piece of information. It involves these steps:

  1. Determine what key words to look for.
  2. Look quickly through the text for those words.
  3. When you find each word, read the sentences around it to see if they provide the information being sought.
  4. If they do, do not read further. If they do not, continue scanning.

Main and supporting ideas

When you read a book or an article you can find the following organization:

The general idea is the central thought of the writer’s exposition. It is generally implicit in the title and explicitly expressed in an introductory paragraph or a summary or both.

Main ideas are the necessary information given by the author to develop or substantiate the general idea.

It is important to recognize main ideas in order to understand the message conveyed by the author. The main idea is the one special thought or feeling about the topic that the reader shouldn’t miss. These ideas may be explicitly stated in sentences introducing paragraphs, or in sentences summarizing paragraphs. Sometimes the writer does not explicitly state a main idea, then the reader must think about the information given and decide what main ideas the author wants to communicate.

The main idea is developed by the supporting details or ideas.

They help to understand the main ideas by providing examples, or add other details that correspond to the purpose or style of the author. These ideas may also be organized emphasizing contrast, cause and effect or chronological order.

To identify main ideas:

  1. Skim through the text to get the gist of it.
  2. Determine what the topic is.
  3. Determine what the key words are.
  4. Look quickly through the text for those words.
  5. Determine the special thought or feeling about the topic the writer doesn’t want the reader to miss.
  6. Identify the examples or other details which add information to support the main idea.

Guessing meaning from context

  1. Look at the unknown word and decide its part of speech.
Is it a noun, a verb, an adjective, or an adverb?

  1. Look at the clause or sentence containing the unknown word.Look at the relationship between the clause or sentence containing the unknown and other sentences or paragraphs. Sometimes this relationship will be signalled by a conjunction like but, because, if, or when, or by an adverb like however or as a result.
    • If the unknown word is a noun, what adjectives describe it? What verb is it near? That is, what does this noun do and what is done to it?
    • If the unknown word is a verb, what noun does it go with? Is it modified by an adverb?
    • If the unknown word is an adjective what noun does it modify?
    • If the unknown word is an adverb, what verb does it modify?
  2. Use the knowledge you have gained from steps 1-3 to guess the meaning of the word.
  3. Check that your guess is probably correct..
$1· See that the part of speech of your guess is the same as the part of the speech of the unknown word.

$1· Replace the unknown word with your guess. If the sentences make sense, your guess is probably correct.

$1· Break the unknown word into its prefix, root, and suffix, if possible.

(Adapted from Nation: 199o)


A summary is a condensed account of the most important things that happened.

Summarizing is one of the best ways in which you can check and demonstrate your understanding of written material.

To summarize:

  1. Preview the text. Look at the title and subheadings. Look at the first sentence in each paragraph. Note any boldface or italicized print, lists, or charts. Try to get a general sense of what you are about to read.
  2. Read the text once. You are trying to get your first impression of the author´s message. If everything is not clear on this first reading, don´t worry.
  3. Reread the text. This second reading requires more care and concentration than your first effort. Here are some things you should be doing in the rereading process:
  1. Ask questions. Question as you read. Interact with the text. Ask yourself questions such as “who is speaking?”, “where does the story take place?” and other wh-questions.
  2. Mark the text. Underline key words, phrases, and sentences. Make marginal notes next to key elements in the text.
  3. Organize your notes. Take notes you have made and try to arrange them in a logical way. Group related items or ideas. As you do this, ask yourself, ”What is the subject of this information?” “What idea covers most of this information?”
  4. State the main idea. Identify a statement that expresses the central focus of the text, if not create your own. It is important for you to find or create such a sentence, because you will use it toward the beginning of your summary to give your readers the main idea of the reading.

Text 1

$1- Do you know what Sexually Transmitted Diseases are?

$1- Can you mention them?

$1- What do you consider is the most dangerous?

$1- Do you know any person infected by HIV?

$1- Do you know about the methods to avoid getting STDs?

$1- What does our government do with HIV infected people?

$1- Do they have to pay for the medicines and the treatments?

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