Pre-reading: what it is, features and functions

It has happened to all of us, especially in high school and college, that we had to read a book, a scientific article, or a text commentary. This task is not very fun and motivating because we know from experience that it is very likely that we will not understand what we read.

This is something which is unfortunately very common but, oddly enough, would be relatively easy to fix. Simply documenting in advance the subject of the text, its author or general aspects of what we are going to read can make it easier for us to read.

This is called pre-reading and it is a very useful tool to improve our reading comprehension and motivation.. Let’s take a closer look at what it consists of, what are its characteristics and functions.

    What is pre-reading?

    Pre-reading, also called exploratory reading, is a strategy allows us to understand a text in a more exhaustive and detailed way. Pre-reading is the first of three phases into which the comprehensive reading process is divided, with the reading and post-reading phases being the next two. It consists of preparing what must be read in order to be able to understand it better, by helping their reading comprehension and the effectiveness of the activity.

    The purpose of pre-reading is to discover what the general idea of ​​a text is before diving into itSo you know what your secondary problems are. In this way, when we proceed to the normal reading of the text, word for word and sentence for sentence, we will understand in a simpler way its details which, without adequate preliminary preparation, could escape us.

    In the previous reading this is usually a spontaneous process, do a quick read of the text, see a little above what is going on, Looking at the number of pages and chapters in the book and other similar actions. However, at other times it is done in a more conscious and structured way, documenting what needs to be read, learning the specific terminology of the text, the context in which it was written and acquiring the basic idea. of text., making it easier to read.

    The most common pre-play action is “crawl”. For example, applied to a book, it would consist of looking at its cover and back cover, looking at the index, seeing the names of the chapters, and flipping through the pages to see if there are any photographs or graphics that are relevant to us. help to understand what we are going to read. In this way, the reader is prepared to proceed in safety.


    Regardless of how we pre-read, this process has the following characteristics.

    1. This is usually done with short and complex texts

    While pre-reading can be done in virtually any type of text, the recommended texts are the shortest and most complex. This type of text is preferred because their size allows them to be discussed in more depth before reading, Action necessary because the difficulty of the text requires it.

    It is for this reason that it is usually a widely used tool in fields such as education and science, in which texts with new and complicated terminology can be presented and which require some knowledge. prior.

    An example of pre-reading would be reading the abstract of a scientific article and the paper that did it. As the article is relatively short (15 to 25 pages). But it is very specialized, the summaries help the reader to prepare for what he is going to read.

    2. Understand the main idea of ​​the text

    Each pre-reading share as a main characteristic try to understand what is the main idea of ​​the text to be read. This way, when we read the text in the normal way, we will be more attentive to the details and the nuances it contains, nuances that we would ignore without having done prior preparation.

    3. Research

    Before reading a text normally and trying to understand what it says, pre-reading allows us to get an idea of ​​what we are going to read. We may discover something that we didn’t know or that interests us, Give birth to the desire to expand our knowledge on our own.

    Pre-reading is a tool which consists in carrying out preliminary research, which can be more or less exhaustive. Within this research can be document the life of the author of the text, to which branch of knowledge belongs the content of this reading, when and in what context it was written, to learn the specific terminology. ..

    We can also collect opinions and comments from other people, to get a well-formed idea of ​​this work and see if that motivates us to read it. Thanks to this, we will be able to collect a lot of information that will help us better understand what we read..

      Pre-play functions

      Pre-reading performs the following functions.

      1. Increase reading comprehension

      As we mentioned, the main purpose of pre-reading is to help us understand in depth the text that we are going to read. It is for this reason that this technique is particularly recommended in areas in which a difficult text will be read, with complex subjects or too specific terminology.

      When we read something that is full of academic terms and the subject matter is complex, it is very likely that we will lose track, we will not find out what we are reading, and reading will become a waste of time and effort. When we have finished the text, we will realize that we do not remember anything and we will have to read it again.

      On the other hand, if we’ve done a bit of research beforehand, we’ve been told what the text is about, what its meaning is, or what the terminology might be, it’s more likely to read this more smoothly, we understand ideas better and learn something.

      2. Improve motivation

      Reading a text that we don’t understand is a heavy, boring and exhausting task. No matter how addicted we are to books, if the text makes us want to read it from the start, we will hardly understand it or we will only be able to finish reading it. Motivation is one of the key aspects of reading.

      One of the reasons high school and high school students do not read homework texts, both literary and scientific, is that they were not told which text to read beforehand.

      This is especially noticeable in language and literature subjects, as there are many teachers who put a literary work as homework who do not know what it is and already think it will be another infusible book. We started unmotivated, making the reading not rich in nuance.

      For this reason, the way the teacher presents the work is fundamental, because if he manages to arouse the interest of his students, they will have a smoother reading. Also, if they already know what the book is about, as they read it they will be able to relate ideas that have been discussed in class.

      3. It helps to better tune the information

      How to read the text in a better documented way and with more motivation, the reader is able to relate more easily the ideas which are presented there. Thanks to this, it is easier to remember what the text was about.

      One of the fundamental ideas of socioconstructivism is that meaningful learning is established when the learner has information that can relate to the news presented to him / her. Thus, he builds new knowledge which he already masters, which is fundamental when reading an educational or scientific document.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Grellet, F. (1981). Development of reading skills. A practical guide to reading comprehension exercises. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
      • VV.AA. (2000). The development of reading comprehension in the classroom of Spanish as a foreign language. Caravel·la, 48. Madrid: SGEL.
      • Sant Mateu Valdehíta, A. (2005). A narrative reading for advanced E / LE students. RedELE, 3.

      Leave a Comment