10 Difference between Extensive and Intensive Reading (With Table)

What is the main difference between extensive and intensive reading? The former is about reading for pleasure and general understanding while the latter focusses on detailed comprehension and analysis.

Reading and writing have become the secondary needs in this century. Understanding the material is underrated since educators only focus on teaching learns how to read and write. This article provides detailed insight into the differences and similarities between these types of reading.

Difference between Extensive and Intensive Reading With Table

Basic Terms Extensive Reading Intensive Reading
Purpose Promotes reading for pleasure and general understanding. Focused on detailed comprehension and analysis.
Reading Speed Reading at a relatively fast pace. Reading at a slower, deliberate pace.
Quantity Involves reading a large volume of material. Involves reading shorter, specific texts in depth.
Text Difficulty Materials are typically easier and within the learner’s comfort zone. Materials may include more challenging or specialized content.
Vocabulary Emphasizes context clues and inferring word meanings. Encourages looking up unfamiliar words and studying vocabulary.
Focus on Grammar Minimal focus on grammar rules; emphasis on understanding overall meaning. Provides opportunities for detailed grammar analysis and practice.
Assessment Assessment may be informal, focusing on comprehension and enjoyment. May involve formal assessments, such as quizzes and analysis of specific linguistic elements.
Time Spent Requires less time per text, allowing for the exploration of various materials. Involves spending more time on individual texts.
Real-life Skills Helps develop general language skills and reading habits. Primarily supports academic language skills and specific language objectives.
Learner Autonomy Encourages learners to choose their own reading material and explore personal interests. Often involves teacher-led selections and guidance on materials to study.

What Is Extensive Reading?

Extensive reading is a language learning approach that involves reading a large quantity of material, typically at a comfortable reading pace and with a focus on overall comprehension rather than detailed analysis.

It often features texts that are slightly below the learner’s current language proficiency level, aimed at promoting reading for enjoyment and general understanding. It encourages learners to choose texts that align with their personal interests and passions.

It also allow learners to expand their vocabulary, enhance reading fluency, and develop a deeper understanding of the language and culture.

Extensive reading is like taking a leisurely stroll through a beautiful garden of words. Instead of struggling with difficult texts, you pick books or stories that are a bit easier for you. It’s all about reading a lot, not stressing over every single word or grammar rule.

You read to enjoy the story, learn new words naturally, and get used to the way the language works. It’s like a fun adventure where you decide what you want to explore, and the more you explore, the better you get at the language.

What Is Intensive Reading?

Intensive reading is an approach to language learning that involves reading texts in a meticulous and focused manner. Learners typically engage with shorter, more challenging texts, aiming for a deep understanding of the content and an analysis of specific language features.

This approach often includes activities like close reading, highlighting key points, and discussing the text in detail. Intensive reading is commonly used for academic purposes and to reinforce comprehension and language mastery.

Intensive reading is like dissecting a piece of cake to understand its ingredients and flavors. Instead of gobbling it up, you examine it closely, looking at each layer and tasting every component. You might use a magnifying glass to check the details.

In language learning, it’s when you read a tricky text very carefully. You underline words you don’t know, figure out grammar rules, and talk a lot about what it all means. It’s like digging deep to understand how words and sentences work in the language.

Main Difference between Extensive and Intensive Reading

  1. Extensive reading focuses on quantity of material while intensive reading on detailed understanding.
  2. Extensive reading emphasizes comprehension and enjoyment while intensive reading on precise understanding.
  3. Extensive reading at a comfortable pace while intensive reading is slower and deliberate
  4. Extensive reading materials are typically easier while intensive reading materials are challenging.
  5. Extensive reading has limited grammar focus while intensive reading has detailed grammar analysis.
  6. Extensive reading involve informal assessment while intensive reading formal assessments.
  7. Extensive reading less time spent per text while intensive reading more time spent on text.
  8. Extensive reading promotes learner autonomy while intensive reading promote teacher-led material selection.
  9. Extensive reading develops general language skills while intensive academic language development.

Similarities between Extensive and Intensive Reading

  1. Both enhance reading skills.
  2. Aid vocabulary development.
  3. Promote language proficiency.
  4. Support comprehension.
  5. Complement each other.
  6. Provide flexibility in language learning.


The difference between extensive and intensive reading lies in their respective approaches to reading. Extensive reading focuses on quantity and overall comprehension, while intensive reading emphasizes in-depth analysis, making both methods valuable tools in language learning, each suited to distinct goals and contexts.

The choice between them often depends on the learner’s objectives, the level of language proficiency, and the desired depth of understanding. By understanding these differences, educators and learners can make informed decisions on how to best utilize these approaches in their language learning journey.

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