2 The reading ability
3 The reading passage
4 The reading comprehension questions
The nature of English learning courses with a syllabus structured to deal with
theoretical aspects of grammar and specific fields of cultural experience,
to the extent that it may regard scientific, technical and commercial subjects,
requires the teaching of language in terms of an approach which brings linguistic
skills and communicative abilities into close association with each other.
The four main linguistic skills of speaking, listening (understanding speech), reading and
writing, connected with integrated abilities, such as translating, summarizing and
paraphrasing constitute a basic structure for the correct acquisition of competence
in the foreign language and for rewarding interpretation and exploitation of texts.
Conventional notions about the four language skills (1) can be expressed in a simple diagram
illustration not visible in this excerpt
There is generally a close inter-relationship between the productive and receptive activities,
but there is a vast amount of written discourse that does not take the form of an exchange.
A way of considering language abilities is to think of them in terms of reciprocal and
(1) I use the terms “skill” and “ability” practically in an interchangeable way.
non reciprocal communication: listening and speaking are considered reciprocal activities,
whereas reading and writing are in large measure independent activities.
It is important to examine the ability of reading, since it is seen as one of the most significant
and far-reaching steps in the sector of receptive activities of learning, from the elementary to
the advanced level, taking also into consideration aspects of its practical development.
In the perspective of an integrated methodological approach, the communicative ability
of reading may have the pedagogic recognition of being associated with the skill of
comprehending which is related to visual medium.
The communicative ability of reading is defined with reference to mode, which is the way
in which the language system is realized as use in acts of communication.
It consists in the ability to recognize sentence as linguistic elements and how they function
as parts of a discourse with a communicative use. With reference to the interpreting, which is
the highest level skill, reading is a matter of discrimination as well as assimilation.
Discrimination consists in the ability to understand relative significance of the information,
whereas assimilation refers to the acquisition of meaning. Both processes vary as the reader
proceeds and have a direct relevance to the ability of comprehending.
The reading ability requires the interpretation of symbolical, structural and content-related
elements of a text.
It is often approached by the students more for the purpose of information than personal
entertainment, and presents linguistic, psychological and cognitive difficulties determined by
problems of lexis, semantic ambiguities, decrease of motivation and lack of general and
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