Reading comprehension is the basic ability to read a text, process the information and understand what was just read. Reading comprehension is both a skill and a function of intelligence, and many children have difficulty with reading comprehension, especially individuals with learning disabilities. However, because it is a skill, reading comprehension can be improved through a number of different educational techniques.
At its most basic level, reading comprehension is the level to which an individual understands a text. Understanding comes about through a variety of factors, including the interaction between the written words and the outside understanding an individual brings to those texts.
Comprehension is based on four separate language skills: phonology (the organization of sounds), syntax (sentence structure), semantics (the meaning of words), and pragmatics (the ways in which context contributes to meaning). Comprehension is founded upon the ability to read and understand quickly and effortlessly.
There are two levels to reading comprehension: shallow and deep processing. Shallow processing involves structural and phonetic recognition, while deep processing is more concerned with semantic understanding, when the brain encodes word meaning and relates it to similar words.