Language and Linguistics

Stages of Reading according to Julio Alvarado and Héctor Méndez

Stages of Reading

The stages of reading are the phases in which a text is read so that the reading is fluent, it is understood correctly and the main ideas are remembered. They are carried out by readers trying to understand a text clearly. Reading is a cognitive act of decoding symbols that occurs in stages. The main ones are recognition, assimilation, integration, retention, memory, and communication.

Reading is also a way to acquire, nurture, and perfect language, communication skills, and creativity.

There is no single way to interpret a reading, rather each reader is free to create their own story from the words they see or feel (in the case of Braille) in a book.

Reading is on the list of stimulating activities that contribute to the decrease in cognitive decline in old age.

What are the stages of reading?

Reading being a process, it occurs in phases that are not mutually exclusive and that can occur in totally different order between individuals.

There are different proposals on the phases that are followed to achieve reading. Two of these proposals are shown below.

Stages of reading according to Julio Alvarado


It is a phase prior to the actual reading. It consists of the identification and recognition of the symbols that make up the text to be read.

In the case of the mother tongue, it is a process that usually occurs in the first 6 years of the individual’s life. However, there may be exceptions (delayed learning, indigo or gifted children, etc.).

It also happens that there are people who learn a new language or code (staff, pictogram, hieroglyphs, etc.), at a later stage in their lives.


It passes from the perception of the word by the eye, to the reception of the word by the brain, in the form of a nervous stimulus.


It is the phase in which the person associates and organizes the symbols that he sees printed, assigning them meaning.

4-Extra integration

It is the process in which the reader associates his previous experience with what he is reading and gives it a new meaning.


It is the phase in which the information received when reading the text is stored in the brain. It is necessary that this storage is accompanied by significant data for the person, in such a way that it is fixed and can be remembered.

6-I remember

In this phase, the information extracted from the reading has been stored correctly and can be accessed when required.


The person is able to structure their own summarized version of the story to share with others for academic and / or recreational reasons.

Stages of reading according to Héctor Méndez

This second proposal refers to the Reading Training Cycle (CAL), developed by the academic Héctor Méndez.

This approach goes through the actions that operate in the development of reading comprehension, namely:

1-Structuring moved

It is a first phase in which a global vision of the text is obtained by observing its format, its titles and subtitles, the capital words, etc. It is about having a panoramic photo of the text.

During this first stage, the reader builds his idea of ​​the macrostructure of the text he faces, which allows him to combine ideas.

In the transferred structuring, attention is very important, which is what will allow the reader to make a good selection of the useful information within the writing.

2-Underlined text

It is a stage in which the reader underlines phrases or words that they consider key within the previously identified macrostructure.

At this time, a deeper and more detained selection and abstraction occurs. The most relevant information is extracted and organized according to its meaning within the general plot of the text.

Short-term memory also intervenes here , which requires strategies that allow for the reinforcement and retention of the information captured.

This is the primary function of underlining; highlight the text to fix it in memory. It is a kind of cognitive prosthesis that contributes to the memory retention function.

3-Annotated text

In this phase, a kind of cognitive prosthesis is used again: annotations. The reader transcribes in the same support of the text that he reads or in another, the ideas that he captures about what he is reading. It is a synthesis of reading.

The reader interprets or infers from what he has read and underlined, thereby constructing his version of what he has read. Develops reading comprehension.

It is in this phase where the knowledge, values ​​and prejudices of the reader come to light, to give particular nuances to the interpreted text.

New information and pre-existing knowledge combine to create new meanings. There is associative learning.

4-Generated structuring

At this time, there are already enough inputs to create a concept map with the information read. The information acquires an order corresponding to the meaning given by its reader.

It is a step that facilitates the subsequent recovery of the data, with minimal intellectual effort. This new organization of information implies:

Structuring the content means a new coding of the information thanks to associative learning.


With this phase, a chronological annotation of the interpretations and concept maps that emerge from the reading is proposed in order to fix them in a definitive and meaningful way.


In this last phase, the questions that have arisen during the reading are condensed and that have allowed them to deepen their understanding of the text and establish relationships with their previous knowledge.

The human brain and reading

The way human beings read and the mental process that this implies, has been the subject of multiple scientific studies over the years.

The first thing that should be said in this regard is that reading is not an innate ability of the brain. However, brain plasticity allows the human brain to learn and adapt to reading.

According to what has been found in the field of neuroscience, there are three brain areas involved in reading:

  • The ventral region, linked to the visual-orthographic processes.
  • The dorsal region, involved in phonological decoding.
  • The frontal region, which participates in the articulatory-phonological and semantic processes.

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