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Resourceful Reading Teachers 1: Four Resources Model of Reading

May 05, 2016 by Nóra Wünsch-Nagy

It's easy to get lost in the maze of reading strategies, skills, practices, cycles, models and methodologies. How do you approach reading in the classroom? What are the most recent practices that offer solutions for reading tasks and ways into different types of texts? In our Resourceful Reading Teachers blog series we will look at some models of reading and reading cycles which can be helpful when thinking about texts, and especially literary texts in functional and yet engaging ways. We will look at various models, cycles and approaches to offer you the possibility of identifying and applying the ones that best suit your classes.

These practices need to function with verbal, visual, multimodal and audio texts as we rarely engage with a text only in one modality as we rarely read texts which are solely verbal, and we rarely look at images without reading the titles (verbal field) or talking about it (speaking activates a verbal field). Most of the literary texts our students encounter are either illustrated readers, film adaptations or annotated editions. It's important to pay attention to the visual field of texts just as much as the verbal field.

Four Resources Model of Reading

The first step in understanding this model is that just 'breaking the code' of a text by 'knowing the relationship between spoken and written language and can interpret graphic symbols and their contexts of use' is not enough for the comprehension of any text. Experienced and skilled readers apply more practices when reading. In 1990 Allan Luke and Peter Freebody developed the Four Resources model of reading, saying that critical literacy skills can and should be developed at the early stages of literacy (and reading) education. As Christine Ludwig in this newsletter for Australian Literacy Educators reports, the development and application of these four practices are necessary for students today to be fully and functionally literate.

We turn to Chrisine Ludwig's explanation of the Four Literacy Resources Model to understand the underlying functional principles of each practice:


"The emphasis is on decoding and encoding the codes, symbols and conventions of written, spoken, visual and multimodal texts in response to contextual factors which includes:

  • recognising and using the alphabet, sounds in words, whole words, letter/sound relationships
  • using graphophonic, syntactic and semantic sources of information
  • spelling accurately and understanding the functions of spelling
  • recognising and using grammar and vocabulary including punctuation and intonation and rhythm
  • recognising and shaping patterns of letter, sound, word, clause, sentence and text/generic structure
  • recognising and shaping visual, nonverbal and auditory codes."


"The emphasis is on comprehending and composing or making meaning from written, spoken, visual and multimodal texts which includes:

  • drawing on social and cultural background and prior knowledge to construct meaning from texts
  • comparing own social and cultural experiences with those described in the text
  • relating previous experiences with similar texts
  • seeing own interests and lifestyles reflected in texts
  • interpreting and using literal and inferential meanings in texts
  • attending to the way texts are constructed to make meaning
  • recognising and constructing concepts and processes that characterise different ways of constructing knowledge in text."


"The emphasis is on understanding that written, spoken, visual and multimodal texts are not neutral but represent particular points of view and silence others which includes:

  • recognising the writer, speaker, or shaper’s purpose in creating a text and that texts influence people’s ideas
  • recognising opinions, bias, points of view, gaps and silences and dominant readings in a text
  • understanding how texts are crafted according to the values, views and interests of the writer, speaker, or shaper
  • identifying the ways in which information or ideas are expressed and represented to influence and position readers, viewers or listeners
  • presenting an alternative position to the one taken by a text or deciding to endorse the position taken by a text."


The emphasis is on understanding the purposes of different written, spoken, visual and multimodal texts and using texts in different ways for different cultural and social functions which also includes:

  •  understanding that different cultural and social contexts and purposes shape the way texts are structured
  • understanding the purpose of a text and recognising the purpose in using it
  • using appropriate text types for particular purposes both inside and outside school
  • recognising what to do with a text in a particular context and what others might do with it
  • recognising that each text type has particular structures and features
  • understanding the options and alternatives for using a text to convey particular meanings effectively."

How can such a model inform language teachers? We need to keep in mind that the different reading practices are not hierarchical, not developmentally based and do not follow each other in a linear manner. This model encourages teachers to combine reading practices from an early age through reading a variety of stories.Have you used this model in your own teaching? Try focussing on different practices when you are reading a short story or illustrated graded reader with teens, or a young reader with young learners. When you apply all four resources, they will come into action and start preparing your students for a more critical individual reading practice.