This paper reports a reading intervention programme, the LMVS (Linguistically Mediated Visual Search) among pre-adolescent Chinese EFLs. It sets out to test whether managing the process of silent reading might modify text complexity as perceived. The paper is a combination of two studies. The first study was the development and assessment of a reading comprehension test. The second study piloted an intervention for pre-adolescents. Item-by-item analysis of students’ performance in the post-test show changes in the perception of item difficulty after the intervention. Chinese EFL struggling readers were found to be weaker in lexical analysis. They also faced difficulties in decoding main ideas in compound/complex sentences. In response to the analysis, strategies were developed for automatic syntactic processing. The paper proposes seeing language as a process, rather than a product so that learner management skills might be prepared for reading intervention.