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Using English for Academic Purposes: Reading Skills for Academic Study

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

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Computer(s), Internet access, projector (optional), MS Word (optional)

Activity Description

This comprehensive guide has readings with some integrated exercises that include an introduction to academic reading, advice, efficiency, understanding, note-taking, strategies, critical reading, and multiple interactive exercises to apply all. Assign students whose goal is transitioning to higher education to work through the guide independently, assign specific parts, or use specific sections in class to prepare students for the demands of reading academically in college and university. Use the sample exercises for students to practice identifying genres of texts, tone, reading purposes, and appropriate strategies or methods for reading. To find the other reading exercises, use this link then select Exercises in the left side bar.


  1. Make sure that the site is not blocked at your school before using it with students.
  2. If you would prefer to use an activity other than the one on identifying genres of texts, tone, reading purposes, and appropriate strategies or methods for reading, go through the site’s reading exercises to find one that suits your teaching objectives and to ensure that it is appropriate for your students’ abilities. (Select the Exercises button in the left-hand navigation pane.)
  3. After you choose an activity, complete it yourself in order to plan an introduction to the exercises and anticipate students’ questions and difficulties.
  4. All these exercises run in a new window (or a new tab depending on your settings). Make sure pop-up blocker is disabled or set it to allow pop-ups from this site.
  5. If you are using the suggested activity we have provided two charts for students to use in identifying texts (see above). The first Reading Skills for Academic Study can be printed and copied for students to complete manually. The second Reading Skills - Interactive is designed to be completed using a computer with Microsoft Office 2007 or later.
  6. The audio is provided in a variety of formats: RealPlayer (RP), Windows Media Player (WMP), Quicktime Player(QT) or Flash Player (FP). For the exercise you select for students to do, make sure the computer(s) have the appropriate audio player installed.
  7. Java is also required for some of the site’s exercises, so make sure it is installed, too, if the exercise you select requires it.


  1. Begin by asking students the following question: "What sort of things do you read in your own language?" List all their answers on the board. These are different types of texts. Ask students the following question: "What do you read in English?" Add to the list. Follow up by asking students how they feel about reading a few of the texts they listed, their reasons for reading a particular type of text, and how they read particular texts.
  2. For this activity, students will read some of the texts on the site that you have chosen. There are 30 different written texts .
  3. Have students copy a chart or make it as a handout for them ahead of time with the following column headings: Text, Type, Opinion, Purpose, Method. In the “Text” column, have students write in the numbers of the texts from the site that you have chosen ahead of time for them to read. Note: Type = type of text (instructions, recipe, letter, dictionary, menu, text message, etc.); Opinion = positive or negative tone; Purpose = for pleasure/enjoyment, to get information, to get ideas, etc.; Method = quickly skim, quickly scan, read carefully from beginning to end, etc.
  4. Model the activity with one text, explaining each column as you complete the task together as a class, using these types of questions as prompts:
    • Try to identify the type of text. What TYPE of text is it?
    • What is your OPINION of the text?
    • Which of the text types do you like reading?
    • Which of them do you have to read (even if you do not like reading them)?
    • Which do you never read? Why?
    • Why do you usually read this kind of text?
    • What is your usual PURPOSE when you read these texts?
    • How does your purpose influence how you read?
    • What METHOD do you use?
  5. Have students complete the assigned texts independently and then compare their answers in pairs or small groups.
  6. Have students check their answers with the site’s suggested answers or together as a whole class by selecting “Answer.”

Teacher Tips

  • The site is from the United Kingdom, so British English is used (spelling and pronunciation)
  • Other specific exercises include the following:
  • Efficient reading skills (Scanning to locate specifically required information, Surveying the text, Using the title, Skimming a text using first lines of paragraphs, Skimming a text using first and last paragraphs, Skimming a text, using section headings)
  • Understanding texts (Understanding text structure/organization, Understanding conceptual meaning, Understanding reference, Understanding difficult language), General reading (Civilization and history, Using land wisely), Science & Technology (Oil),
  • Summarizing and note-taking (Reading and Writing – multiple topics from Violence to Gun Control to Dilemma of the Working Mother and Nightmare in a California Jail; Text Reconstruction – multiple topics for paraphrasing and summarizing from Amphibia to Population Spread to Safety in the Home), Note-Taking (Coffee Processing and How Children Fail)
  • Critical reading

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  • Advanced


Basic Communication

  • (7.2) Demonstrate ability to use critical thinking skills
  • (7.3) Demonstrate ability to use problem-solving skills
  • (7.4) Demonstrate study skills
  • (7.7) Demonstrate the ability to use information and communication technology
  • (7.6) Demonstrate the ability to view the media critically
  • (7.1) Identify or demonstrate effective skills and practices in accomplishing goals
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.