What is Reading Comprehension?

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  • 0:03 What Is Reading Comprehension?
  • 0:43 Reading Comprehension: Steps
  • 2:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kimberly McLaughlin

Kimberly has taught Middle School Language Arts for 9 years and has a Master's Degree in Secondary Education.

When you are reading, it isn't enough to just process the words. You need to understand what you are reading, too. In this lesson, you'll learn about the steps involved in reading comprehension.

What Is Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension is about understanding what you read. Of course, there's more to it than that. When you comprehend what you are reading, you're not only understanding the words and their meanings, but you are also understanding them enough to form opinions, thoughts and reflections about what the words mean together.

Reading comprehension is like having a conversation with someone. If you do not understand what the other person is saying, you will have no idea what they are talking about and have nothing to say in return. No one wants to have that conversation! So, in order to understand what you're reading, you have to follow certain steps.

Reading Comprehension: Steps

The first step is to read on your level. When making your way through a passage, you should be able to pronounce and know the definition or meaning of most of the words. If you cannot do this, then you are probably reading above your comprehension level. If you don't understand or know how to say the words in the passage, then your focus will most likely be on the unfamiliar words and not on understanding what you're reading as a whole. In this case, distraction comes into play, and the next thing you know, you have no idea what the last page even said!

The second step is to respond to what you are reading. Remember the dreaded questions that came at the end of each story in your elementary reading class? There was a point to these questions: to see if you understood what you read. Responding to what you are reading is important because while you may believe you understood a passage, there's also the possibility you did not. A great way to find out for sure is to answer specific questions or write down your opinions about the text, which requires you to give more in-depth thought to the passage.

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