In this article it is given the main approaches explaining the nature of learning to read. The nature of reading –how people learn to process textual information-has been researched by cognitive and behavioral scientists for many decades, and their work has contributed contrasting theories about what works best in the teaching of reading.
Key words: skimming, scanning, extensive, intensive reading, phonics, schema theory, issues, punctuation, authentic, cultural context.
When teaching reading a foreign — language text, we extract three levels of meaning: lexical meaning, structural or grammatical meaning, and sociocultural meaning. It is sociocultural meaning that is the most difficult for a second- language learner to understand the values, beliefs and attitudes of the speech community. Reading is a complex skill. It involves an interaction between writer and reader, which cannot be had without an insight into the culture of the target language. The success of a second — language program depends on reducing the culture-bondage of a student and motivating him to understand the culture of the target language. In our classes we must promote international understanding and cooperation by enabling students to gain access to the life and thought of a people who speak another language. But this objective becomes unrealistic when there is hostility towards the culture of another group.We must develop student’s cultural understanding of the language and promote his personal culture through contact with great minds and literature. 
Understanding a written text means extracting the required information from it as efficiently as possible. There are two main reasons for reading: reading for pleasure (1),reading for information (in order to find out something or in order to do something with the information you get)(2)
The main ways of reading are as follows:
‒ skimming: quickly running one’s eyes over a text to get the gist of it.
‒ scanning: quickly going through a text to find a particular piece of information.
‒ extensive reading: reading longer texts, usually for one’s own pleasure. This is a fluency activity, mainly involving global understanding.
‒ intensive reading: reading shorter texts, to extract specific information, This is more an accuracy activity involving reading for detail.
When constructing reading comprehension exercises on a given text, it is always preferable to start with the overall meaning of the text, its function and aim, rather than working on vocabulary or more specific ideas. Reading is a constant process of guessing, and what one brings to the text is often more important than what one finds in it. This is why, from the very beginning, the students should be taught to use what they know to understand unknown elements, whether these are ideas or simple words. This is best achieved through a global, approach to the text. One could sum up this kind of approach in the following way. It is important to use authentic texts whenever possible. Reading without comprehension is sheer verbalization. Reading comprehension should not be separated from the other skills. There are few cases in real life when we do not talk or write about what we have read or when we do not relate what we have read to something we might have heard. It is therefore important to link the different skills through the reading activities chosen:
reading and writing, e.g. summarizing, mentioning what you have read in a letter, note-making, etc.
reading and listening, e.g. comparing an article and a news- bulletin, using recorded information to solve a written problem, matching opinions and texts, etc.
reading and speaking, e.g. discussions, debates, appreciation, etc.
Reading ability will best be developed in association with writing, listening, and speaking activity. Even in those courses that may be labeled ”reading”, our goals, will be best achieved by capitalizing on the interrelationship of skills.  So, we focus on reading as a component of general second language proficiency, but only in the perspective of the whole picture of interactive language teaching. There has been frequent discussion about what kinds of reading texts are suitable for English language students. The greatest controversy has centered on whether the texts should be ‘authentic’ or not. That is because people have worried about more traditional language-teaching materials which tended to look artificial and to use over-simplified language which any native speaker would find comical and untypical. However, if we give low-level students a copy of The Times or The Guardian (which are certainly authentic for native speakers), they will probably not be able to understand them at all. There will be far too many words they have never seen before, the grammar: will be (for them) convoluted said the style will finish them off. A balance has to be struck between real English on the one hand and the students’ capabilities and interests on the other. There is some authentic written material which beginner students can understand to some degree: menus, timetables, signs and basic instructions, for example, and, where appropriate we can use these. But for longer prose, we may want to offer our students texts which, while being like English, are nevertheless written or adapted especially for their level. The important thing is that such texts are as much like real English as possible. The topics and types of reading texts are worth considering too. For many learners, beginning to read the foreign language involves learning an entire new set of written symbols. And for the teacher, some preliminary decisions need to be made about how to teach them. It is generally preferable to begin reading only after the learners have some basic knowledge of the spoken language, so that reading becomes as quickly as possible a matter of recognizing meanings rather than deciphering symbols. Such knowledge also enables us to give much more varied and interesting tasks for reading practice.
I have found it most practical and productive to begin with single letters (the conventional ‘phonic’ methods), starting with the most common and useful. A collection of known, common letters very quickly enables students to cope with a large number of words, where as learning specific words as such does not readily generate further combinations. Having said this however, there are two important reservations. First it is worth teaching some very common words globally very early on-for example: the, she, this, is, are in English-and practicing their recognition through tasks like identifying them in a newspaper extract. Second, some learners do actually prefer to learn ‘globally’, having a good memory for full-word combinations. In any case, whole words in tasks that involve understanding meanings should be used as soon as possible; phonetics learning is only an entry stage, and our aim is proficient reading that involves recognition of whole sense units. It is, surely, more useful for reading purposes if the learners knows the most, common sound of the letter; its name can be left until later. My own preference is to teach the different forms of the letters together. This slows down the process a little, but means that the letters the learners do know can immediately be recognized in the context of a text. Alphabetical order can be learned later when the learners need to know it for; dictionary use. Students need to be able to do a number of things with a reading text. They need to be able to scan the texts for particular bits, of information they are searching for. This skill means that they do not have to read every word and line; on the contrary, such an approach would stop them scanning successfully. Students need to be able to skim a text-as if they were casting their eyes-over its surface-to get a general idea of what it is about. Just as with scanning, if they try to gather all the details at this stage, they will get bogged down and may not be able to get die general idea because they are concentrating too hard on specifics. Whether readers scan or skim depends on what kind of texts they are reading and what they want to get out of it. They may scan a computer manual to find the one piece of information they need to use their machine, and they may skim a newspaper article to get a general idea of what’s been happening. But we would expect them to be less utilitarian with a literary work where reading for pleasure will be a slower, closer kind of activity. 
Reading is an active skill. As mentioned earlier, it constantly involves guessing, predicting, checking and asking oneself questions. This should therefore be taken into consideration when devising reading comprehension exercises. It is possible, for instance, to develop the students’ powers of inference through systematic practice, or introduce question which encourage students to anticipate the content of a text from its title and illustrations or the end of a story from the preceding paragraphs.
Another important point when devising reading comprehension exercises is that the activities should be flexible and varied. Few exercise-types are intrinsically good or bad. They only become so when used in relation to a given text. Reading comprehension activities should be suited to the texts and to one’s reasons for reading them. It is essential to take into account the author’s point of view, intention and tone for a full understanding of the text. This may be covered by open questions, multiple-choice questions, true or false questions, etc. In other cases, the text may naturally lend itself to a non-linguistic activity such us tracing a route on a map, or matching pictures and paragraphs. The aim of the exercises must be clearly defined and a clear distinction made between teaching and testing, Testing will obviously involve more accuracy-type exercises; whereas; through teaching one should try to develop the skills listed on pages.
- J. A. Saeed Rahbarnia. 1980. Culture and reading comprehension. English Teaching Forum.
- Malinowski B. 1946.The problem of meaning in primitive languages. London
- Stern H. H. 1983. Fundamental concepts of language teaching. London.