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Lecture 8 Teaching Reading as a skill

Key questions:

1. What is Reading?

2. What strategies for developing reading do you know?

3. Why is the choice of culturally appropriate materials for Reading important?

Reading is a visual and cognitive process to extract meaning from writing by understanding the written text, processing information, and relating it to existing experience. Reading can be text driven (the text is interesting), task driven (the text is read because of the academic task that the learner faces) and purpose driven (the text is a step towards a purpose, which is outside reading). The process of reading is characterised with reading dynamics i.e. the progress of reading in time. It depends much on the achieved level of language competence and the reading skills. The type of the text is also a factor in the dynamics of reading. Major types of reading dynamics are shown by the graphs (After Davies, F. 1995. Introducing Reading. Penguin)

The process of reading can be viewed in terms of purpose, strategy and outcome. Purpose of reading is what makes the process necessary for the reader. Related to the purpose, a strategy of reading is chosen. The following strategies of reading are named to describe the process: skimming, scanning and critique. Skimming is reading for the gist. Scanning is reading for details. Critique is reading for critical analysis and putting to verification the truth of what is written in the text. As a result of applying the strategies, a predictable outcome of reading is achieved such as general ideas, detailed information or personal opinions (Forrester, M. 1996. Psychology of Language. SAGE Publications. P. 161.)

Choice of texts for reading usually meets the following criteria

Authenticity       Suitability
    Text criteria    
  Resourcefulness   Usability  

A text chosen for reading is expected to be authentic-made or authentic-like, not too difficult for the learners, suitable for the teaching goal and usable in the series of activities, lending itself as a resource of information and ideas.

The process of reading can be text-oriented and/or readier-oriented. Text-oriented theory views texts as the sources of information that are “tapped” by the reader. Reader-oriented theory views texts as devices that trigger off thought processes in the reader (Forrester, M. 1996. Psychology of Language. SAGE Publications. P.162-164). A reader is considered an equal resource of information interacting with the text and pertaining to the outcome of reading. Reader as an information resource is studied by the “schema theory”. Schema theory is important in teaching to read. A schema (plural “schemata”) is prior knowledge in the learner’s mind. It is not only storage of data but also a frame for organizing knowledge which can be structured as a series of slots plus fillers (T.Harley. The Psychology of Language.Psychology Press. 1995 P.193). This means that a schema is an active phenomenon in the reader's mind, containing both the scope of questions a reader can ask, and the answers that the reader can give. Schemata can include information in the following forms: concepts, i.e. notions familiar to the reader, facts, i.e. events known to the reader, images, i.e. mental pictures in the reader's mind, language, i.e. vocabulary and grammar available to the reader, assumptions i.e. formulas of opinions, frames, i.e. stereotypes to describe things, people and situations, scripts, i.e. repeated sequences of behavior that the reader knows, emotions a reader is likely to recognize while reading due to one's emotional past (T.Harley. The Psychology of Language. The Psychology Press. 1995. D.Nunan. Language Teaching Methodology. Phoenix. 1991. M.Beaumont. The Teaching of Reading Skills in a Second Language. The University of Manchester. 1996 and in many other sources)

Reading is an interactive process. There are several types of interaction in the process of reading: between textual form and content, skimming and scanning reading strategies, top-down and bottom-up processing strategies, reader’s anticipatory guesses and confirmation from the text, reader’s schemata and information from the text, text and reality, textual and reader’s reality, text propositions and critical thinking, communicative message and reader’s response.

Textual form and content interact in the process of reading. The readers are likely to find that certain types of texts have certain typical textual features. Text contents and text format appear to stick together. Textual features depend on what the text is about and experienced readers expect certain contents from certain types of texts.

Skimming and scanning reading strategies interact as the readers search for the gist and the details. The problem is that in this interaction the readers often do not “see the wood for the trees”, i.e. their attention is drawn from essentials to non-essentials.

An integral part of the reading process are the reader’s anticipatory guesses and confirmations from the text.

In the process of reading reader’s schemata and information from the text provide for interaction of the “new” and “old”, for “deceived expectancy” and for changing the view-points. The “new” and “old” interact in the process of reading and as a result of this interaction the expectations that a reader builds about the text can be ruined or re-confirmed. If the expectations are ruined, we speak of the “deceived expectancy”. A common case is when a text simply adds new knowledge to what is already know to the reader about the subject. Interaction of the reader’s schemata and information from the text can carry on as “adding”, “correcting”, “refuting”, “ critical thinking” and “re-confirming”.

Readers' and textual reality. Reader and writer's realities interact in the process of reading (Widdowson. H. 1978. Teaching Language as Communication. OUP). Writer’s reality can be made more or less explicit depending on the text genre. “Autobiography” will emphasise the life context of the author, while “essay” will focus on the author’s philosophy of life. A fictitious character can be the author’s spokesman. Imagined reality of a fictitious person also makes part of the textual reality. Textual reality can be perceived by the readers in the context of their own reality. This turns reading into a “silent communication” with the author.

The process of reading is crowned with interaction between communicative message and reader’s response. Communicative message is the intended meaning, which the text is made to convey to the reader in pursuit of the author’s goal. Getting a communicative message is done through reading for not “what” is written but to “why” it is written. Reader’s response is a change in the reader’s mind whether made explicit or kept implicit that comes as a reaction to having read the text (discovery, support, critique, interpretation, rejection).

Activities for teaching to read

Teaching to read starts with teaching “phonics”, i.e. associations of sounds and letters. Beginners' reading activities can be organised with the tasks such as “Draw links between the foreign and native language letters that sound the same”. “Draw links between the pictures and the letters that begin the words”. “Cross out letters, which you can't hear when you name an object”. “Read the words, which are names of the animals. Do not read other words”. “In the short story read only the words, which you can understand. What is the story about?”. “Read out only the sentences, which describe the picture”. ”Read out only the sentences, which belong to one story” (After P.Ur. 1996. A Course in Language Teaching. CUP. P. 156-157).

Teaching reading to advanced students can be organised with a single text (skimming and scanning reading), parallel texts (reading two or more texts on the same subject thus creating information gap between the readers), divided text (splitting the text into parts and handing them out for the learners to read and them put information together, thus organising a jig-saw reading). Advanced reading activities can take th1e form of cued reading (finding information in the text as relevant to the cue given), guided reading (seeking information in the text in answer to the questions given), jig-saw reading (pooling information together of the two or more texts distributed between the learners), shared reading (reading the same text in a group but with each learner having a different task with subsequent sharing information), critical reading (activating thought processes over the text).

Reading activities are based on a number of techniques for teaching to read. Techniques for teaching to read include extracting (extracting information from the text in answer to questions or other elicitation tasks), cloze procedure (filling gaps in the text), sequencing text parts (restoring the logical order of the crippled text), matching (matching headlines and passages in the text), restoration of the text (restoring the text from bits and scraps), finding irrelevancies (finding and ticking off sentences, which are logically irrelevant in the text), fitting in sentences or passages (fitting in the sentences or passages in the points of the text, where they are logically appropriate), digest (summarizing the most essential information points from a number of texts), comment (reader's response on the text).



Date: 2014-12-22; view: 2622

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