Do you understand, or actually read each and every word when you are reading a text in Arabic? The answer is probably “no” which means that, you already have, and use, some reading skills in your own language for reading a text even if you do not actually understand the meaning of each and every word. When reading a text in English, you have to use those same skills — the language may be different but the skills are basically the same.
The four reading skills are: ‘Skimming’, ‘Scanning’, ‘Extensive reading’ and ‘Intensive reading’. Skimming and Scanning are the strategies you will mostly use when doing the reading component of the IELTS assessment. However, in a number of instances you will need to use intensive reading skills, to make sure you answer a specific question correctly. However, to become a better reader — and to improve your academic writing abilities — you will need to read extensively on the subject of your chosen Major.
Skimming is used when we want to understand the main idea. You basically run your eyes over the text and gather the important information. You do not need to understand every word when you skim read and, you do not actually need to read every word either. For example, when you are reading a newspaper article in Arabic you are likely to skim read, to get the general news.
Scanning is used when we need to find a particular piece of information. You basically run your eyes over the text and look specifically for the particular piece of information you need. As with skimming, you do not need to understand every word when you scan read — you are often looking to find “key” words only. In real life, you would normally scan read a timetable to find the information relevant to you or your course.
Extensive reading is usually used for longer texts for pleasure. t is not necessary to understand every word; you are reading for enjoyment. This type of reading will help improve your reading speed. Therefore, try and read articles on subjects in English that are linked to your own areas of interest.
Intensive reading is different from the other types of reading. With this type of reading it is important to understand each word and fact. It is basically accurate reading used for detailed understanding. We usually use intensive reading on shorter texts — or single paragraphs — to gain specific information (the answer to a specific question).