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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Text processing strategies

Attending and searching

Learners need to attend to details of texts in order to decode, find information, determine meaning, and learn about text forms and features. The learner uses the sources of information (see pages 30–32) to look purposefully for ideas or concepts, facts, vocabulary, patterns of syntax, and information in symbols, illustrations, and diagrams.

For fluent and independent readers, this usually involves attending to larger chunks of text. These readers slow down to identify and focus on specific words and features only when they need to do so in order to ascertain, clarify, or extend meaning or thinking. For students who need further support in the basics of reading, attending and searching could involve attending closely to most words and to the illustrations.

Using the processing strategies

Reading can be thought of as a continuous process of attending and searching, predicting, cross-checking, confirming or self-correcting, and re-predicting. These strategies are not discrete stages; they constantly interact and support one another. They are used in complex combinations, and proficient readers at all levels usually apply them automatically.

The ways in which students learn and apply the processing strategies illustrate the role of metacognition in literacy learning. Learner readers need to be taught to recognise when to use each processing strategy. They also need to be shown how to use each strategy and taught when and how to integrate them. This knowledge and awareness enable them to monitor their own progress as developing readers. For example, fluent readers in years 5 to 8 might need to be taught how to search for and identify technical language in a text and how to cross-check its meaning in context (by using a range of semantic information in the text). Students whose control of the processing strategies (or of the English language) is limited may process text in inappropriate ways – for example, by relying on their memory, by trying to sound out every single word, or by guessing, rather than by making appropriate uses of the sources of information in the text and their own prior knowledge.


Predicting is a strategy that readers use to anticipate what will come next. It involves forming an expectation on the basis of information acquired so far and drawing on their prior knowledge and experience of the world and of text content, structure, and language. Predicting, then, is strongly related to meaning and is more than mere speculation.

For fluent and independent readers, predicting involves using prior knowledge and information in the text quickly, and sometimes automatically, to decide (at least initially) on the meaning of unknown words, terms, and phrases or difficult passages or to anticipate such things as the next event in a narrative or the next step in a procedural text. For students who need further support in the basics of reading, predicting will also involve drawing on prior knowledge and information from semantic, syntactic, and visual and grapho-phonic sources to predict individual words.

Cross-checking, confirming, and self-correcting

Readers need to cross-check their predictions about vocabulary, content, or meaning as they read to ensure that the predictions make sense and fit with the other information that they have already processed in the text. When readers detect an error or suspect an alternative meaning, they need to know what to do about this.

For fluent and independent readers, cross-checking usually involves searching for additional information relating to content, meaning, or vocabulary to confirm their initial understanding of the text. Such readers usually check their predictions swiftly and automatically. For students who are still learning the basics of reading, crosschecking might also involve drawing on their prior knowledge of semantic, syntactic, and visual and grapho-phonic sources of information to confirm their predictions.

Self-correcting involves readers cross-checking, correcting, and confirming (and often re-predicting) as they read. The reader may self-correct by turning a partially correct response or idea into a wholly correct one. Students need to know that good readers habitually cross-check, confirm, and self-correct and that they take responsibility for using these strategies.

Published on: 22 Mar 2016