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Academic reading: Native language reading strategies in your second language

How do you use your native language reading strategies in your second language?

You might already use some strategies in your native language when reading a text. Ideally, you would treat English texts in the same way. Skimming is a strategy you can easily use when reading an English text. However, second language learners might “forget” about these strategies when reading in English because they feel they need to pay attention to every single detail to understand the text. Luckily, you do not have to understand every word to understand the text.

When reading a text in your second language, it is very important to pay attention to the pre-reading task. Ask yourself the following questions: what is the goal of the text? What is the genre of the text (see module 5) and what do I already know about this topic? If you activate your prior knowledge, it is easier to make connections between the new information in the text and what you already know. Then, start skimming a text and finally read for details (see module 5).

And last but not least, make a good schedule. It will likely take more time to read texts in your second language than in your first language so keep that in mind when making a schedule for preparing your exam or thesis. Especially in the early stages of your studies, you might notice that reading a text in English will take more time. Don’t' worry: the more you read, the easier and faster it will go.