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Phonics seems to be important. What else is important? Do you need to know the formal rules of grammar?

By "reading a language" I mean reading aloud or silently (whichever is better for comprehension) and have listening comprehension also.

  • P.S. What do you mean by "reading a language? Is it just about reading it aloud (without understanding) or do you also want to have listening comprehension? – jknappen - Reinstate Monica Oct 31 '16 at 13:20
  • Thanks :) Reading aloud or silently (whichever is better for comprehension) and have listening comprehension also. – Explette Oct 31 '16 at 13:24
  • You can always (even with only one point of reputation) edit your own question to make it self-contained and clearer. – jknappen - Reinstate Monica Oct 31 '16 at 13:25
  • Noted. Thanks for the suggestion :) – Explette Oct 31 '16 at 13:28
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There are generally considered 4 core language concepts:

  1. Listening Comprehension

    The ability to understand what you hear in the language.

  2. Reading Comprehension

    The ability to understand what you read in a language.

  3. Speaking

    The ability to be understood when you speak in the language.

  4. Writing

    The ability to be understood when you write in the language.

Phonetics is part of speaking and listening--not part of reading. Thus, strictly speaking, your guess that phonetics is necessary for reading is actually wrong.

However, many people subvocalize when reading. If you're doing this as a means to improve/learn pronunciation, then of course phonetics is important--but only as an aid for learning pronunciation. For reading alone, phonetics is actually completely irrelevant.

So, to answer your question, which skills are actually needed?

  • The ability to recognize written symbols (letters, or other glyphs of your language)
  • The ability to recognize words
  • Directional tracking (left-to-right, right-to-left, or top-to-bottom, as your language dictates)
  • Understanding of written grammar, including sentence structure (often closely related to spoken grammar, but there are usually subtle differences, at least in style)
  • Understanding of punctuation marks

Generally speaking, the skill level necessary in most or all of these areas is lower for reading than for writing. As an example, recognizing a quotation mark in a written work is usually easier than mastering when to use one during writing.

So the degree to which you need to master these various skills to be "proficient at reading" is in direct proportion to how proficient you want to be. There's no such thing as the "perfect reader"--everyone can improve their reading capabilities (as can they in any aspect of Language skill).

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