Why do we read?

We Read for Different Reasons

by | Aug 8, 2019 | Reading

When you use the word “reading”, you usually refer to “looking at written words and understanding what they mean”; however, this is not always what reading means. In fact, there are a number of ways to read, each with a different purpose.

1- You read for pleasure

(novels, story books, etc.)


Curling up with your favorite book and a hot coffee in hand is many people’s fantasy. This type of reading has no time pressure and you don’t need to worry about an exam!  Learn how to read storybooks better →

2- You read to others

(dramatic reading)

Grandfathers read to their family; mothers read to their children; newsreaders read to their viewers. The aim of this type of reading is not your comprehension but your listeners’ comprehension. Read English jokes to your friends/family →

3- You read to learn

(vocabulary, grammar, etc.)

One of the main sources of input for learning is books. As an English learner, you need to read a lot to acquire new vocabulary in context or improve your grammar with the aid of model sentences in English texts. A recommended book: Focus on Vocabulary 

4- You read to memorize

(poems, etc.)

This way of reading is common at school where pupils are expected to memorize poems or other textbook contents, but at higher levels of education, too, you may read to memorize facts, formula, etc.

5- You read to practice your pronunciation

“Roberto! Read page 27 out loud, please!”, teachers ask their students in class; however, its purpose is not necessarily comprehension. While reading texts, sometimes, you should concentrate on the pronunciation of every word to improve your spoken English.


6- You read to understand the gist

(skimming for main ideas)

What do you do when you buy a newspaper? Do you start reading everything from page 1? Before you actually get down to reading something, it is always a good idea to look at pictures, headings, subheading, etc. or read it quickly to find the main facts or ideas in it.

In this lesson of the IELTS Juice Online Academy, you will learn how to skim effectively →

7- You read to find one thing in particular

(scanning for something specific)

When you look up a person’s name in your phonebook, or go through an ad to find out the cost of something, you are technically “scanning“.

Further reading: Learn when you should skim and when you should scan in IELTS …


8- You read to understand the details

(in-depth reading)

In more serious cases where you require analytic/critical thinking, you will have to read in depth. You may even read a few lines more than once to digest the subject matter. This applies to True, False, Not Given questions, for instance, that cannot be answered simply by skimming/scanning.


What about IELTS?

In the IELTS test, you should only use the last three ways; otherwise, you will suffer from lower speed and lower quality in your reading. To learn how to decide on the best way to read, go to this lesson on the IELTS Juice Online Academy: How to approach IELTS reading

About the Author

About the Author

CEO and Co-founder of Juice Academy

Mehdi Safavi is a Cambridge certified English teacher (CELTA Grade A), IDP-trained IELTS expert, Sussex Downs College TESOL with 17+ years of teaching & teacher training experience. More about him →


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