Oxford University Press has worked with leading academics and practitioners in the field of comprehension, including Professors Jane Oakhill and Kate Cain, to help develop Oxford Reading Buddy’s underpinning framework of Comprehension Strategies and Skills.

This has been devised to represent the best research in the area of comprehension whilst also reflecting statutory assessment criteria and ease of use for teachers and students.

Strategies and Skills are linked and convergent but not always the same. Strategies are consciously employed during reading to help construct meaning in real time; whereas Skills are abilities that can be used after reading to answer questions about the text. Strategies are not easily accessible or measurable; whereas Skills can be assessed. Buddy Prompts are therefore based on Strategies and quizzes, and Buddy Questions are based on Skills.

Comprehension Skills

The Comprehension Skills Framework distills comprehension into five skills that research suggests are essential to deriving meaning from texts. These skills are broadly the same at all reading levels with the text itself creating the degree of challenge and with some skills being more significant at one level than another.

Most books provide opportunity to practise all the five skills to a greater or lesser extent, and quizzes have been designed to offer as balanced a coverage of skills as possible. By the end of an Oxford Level, students will have good experience of each one, as appropriate to that level.

Comprehension SkillDescription
Finding informationRetrieving literal information from the text or pictures about characters, settings, overtly expressed feelings.
Making connections and inferencesReading between the lines of the text, finding clues and building meaning where information isn’t explicitly stated. Includes ‘global coherence inferences’ at a whole text level (for example, cause and effect, reasons for actions and point of view), as well as ‘local cohesion’ at a sentence level (for example, matching pronouns to nouns).
Understanding vocabularyIdentifying the meaning of words and phrases, synonyms and antonyms, activating related words and concepts, and understanding the effect of word choices.
Using structure and organization to make meaningMaking sense of a text by understanding the ‘gist’, ordering events, identifying and summarizing main ideas, and drawing on knowledge of text conventions, forms, and features.
Understanding and appreciating author toolkitUnderstanding and evaluating how the author uses language and punctuation to create effects, awareness of the author’s intent, and expressing opinions on a text.

Comprehension Strategies

The seven core comprehension strategies that are used in Oxford Reading Buddy have all been proven by research to be important in aiding understanding of text. As students progress through the programme and experience more and more demonstrations of the strategies by Oxford Reading Buddy, they will become increasingly familiar with what each one involves and will be able to consciously employ them in other reading. Additionally, the strategy being used is reinforced on each of the Buddy Prompts in a student-friendly way so that students repeatedly experience the connection between what the strategy is and what it looks like in action.

As students move past the earliest levels of reading, it would be advisable for teachers to share and discuss with them the strategy descriptions (below) and demonstrate employment of the strategies in their wider teaching of reading. You may also like to display these comprehension strategy posters in your classroom.

The Coaching eBooks have been written to offer as balanced a coverage of strategies as possible so that, by the end of an Oxford Level, students will have had good exposure to each one.

Comprehension StrategiesStudent-friendly Buddy promptStudent-friendly description
Monitor comprehensionCheck it makes senseCheck words, phrases and ideas make sense. If they don’t make sense, read around the sentence and think about the rest of the text to work them out.
InferLook for cluesThink like a detective and look beyond what the words say to the clues underneath.
Determine importanceDecide main pointsAs you read, watch out for the main events or the most important information.
Ask questions and predictQuestion and predictMake predictions and ask yourself questions. Then read on to find out.
VisualisePicture in your mindMake a picture in your mind of the text or think about feelings or sounds to make the text more real.
Activate prior knowledgeThink and rememberUse what you already know about the world or other books to understand the text more.
Identify text structures, features and languageNotice text featuresBe aware of the type of text you’re reading. Notice features that the writer has used to help you understand the text.