Reading Reading is the receptive skill in the written mode. It can develop independently of listening and speaking skills, but often develops along with them, especially in societies with a highly-developed literary tradition. Reading can help build vocabulary that helps listening comprehension at the later stages, particularly. Micro-skills involved in reading. The reader has to: • decipher the script. In an alphabetic system or a syllabary, this means establishing a relationship between sounds and symbols. In a pictograph system, it means associating the meaning of the words with written symbols.
• recognize vocabulary. • pick out key words, such as those identifying topics and main ideas. • figure out the meaning of the words, including unfamiliar vocabulary, from the (written) context. • recognize grammatical word classes: noun, adjective, etc. • detect sentence constituents, such as subject, verb, object, prepositions, etc. • recognize basic syntactic patterns. • reconstruct and infer situations, goals and participants. • use both knowledge of the world and lexical and grammatical cohesive devices to make the foregoing inferences, predict outcomes, and infer links and connections among the parts of the text.
• get the main point or the most important information. • distinguish the main idea from supporting details. • adjust reading strategies to different reading purposes, such as skimming Why is reading skill is so important? Reading is one of the skills most crucial for a child’s success in school and in life. If children don’t learn to read with comprehension early enough, their education is at risk. If they don’t learn to read effortlessly enough to render reading pleasurable, their chances for a fulfilling life–by any measure, whether academic achievement, financial stability or job skills–are tremendously diminished.
How to improve reading skill: Teaching reading can be an arduous task as it is often difficult to know how to improve student skills. One of the most obvious, but often unnoticed, points about reading is that there are different types of reading skills. • Skimming – reading rapidly for the main points • Scanning – reading rapidly to find a specific piece of information • Extensive – reading a longer text, often for pleasure with emphasis on overall meaning • Intensive reading – reading a short text for detailed information These different types of skills are used quite naturally when reading in a mother tongue.
Unfortunately, when learning a second or foreign language, people tend to employ only “intensive” style reading skills. I have often noticed that students insist on understanding every word and find it difficult to take my advice of reading for the general idea, or only looking for required information. Students studying a foreign language often feel that if they don’t understand each and every word they are somehow not completing the exercise.
In order to make students aware of these different types of reading styles, it is useful to provide an awareness raising lesson to help them identify reading skills they already apply when reading in their native tongues. Thus, when approaching an English text, students should first identify what type of reading skill needs to be applied to the specific text at hand. In this way valuable skills, which students already possess, are easily transferred to their English reading. Outline: • Ask students about what types of reading they do in their own mother tongue(s).
• Write different categories of written material on board. i. e. magazines, novels, train schedules, newspapers, advertising, etc. • Have students describe how they go about reading each kind of material. You may want to prompt them by asking the following questions: o Do you read every word in the tv schedule? o Do you understand every word you read when reading a novel? o What kind of clues can the presentation of the material give? o How much time do you spend reading the newspaper? Do you read every single word? o What kind of assumptions do you make when you read the first few lines, or a headline?
(i. e. Once upon a time…. ) o How much time do you spend reading the various types of materials? • Based on students’ answers to such questions, ask them to identify the type of skills they are using in the various reading situations. • Divide students into small groups and give them the skills summary and short worksheet. • Have students discuss their opinions about the various skills required for the listed materials. • Present various “real world” materials (i. e. magazines, books, scientific materials, computer manuals etc. ) and ask students to identify the necessary skills required.
Reading Styles Skimming – Reading rapidly for the main points Scanning – Reading rapidly through a text to find specific information required Extensive – Reading longer texts, often for pleasure and for an overall understanding Intensive – Reading shorter texts for detailed information with an emphasis on precise understanding Identify the reading skills required in the following reading situations: • The TV guide for Friday evening • An English grammar book • An article in National Geographic magazine about the Roman Empire • A good friend’s homepage on the Internet • The weather report in your local newspaper • A novel • A poem.
• A bus timetable • A fax at the office • An advertising email – so called “bodyfit” • An email or letter from your best friend • A recipe • A short story by your favourite author Note: There is often not a single correct answer, several choices may be possible according to your reading purpose. If you find that there are different possibilities, state the situation in which you would use the various skills. Developing Reading Skills How many of us remember how we learned to read? Even if we cannot remember how we learned, as parents and educators we can do a lot to help children learn to read and enjoy reading.
Reading involves three distinct but intertwined skills: decoding, fluency and comprehension. Decoding is understanding and using sound/letter relationships. Fluency is being able to read quickly and easily. Comprehension is being able to get meaning from the words that have been put together. Comprehension is the point of reading—the reason for reading. But a reader must reach a certain level of decoding and fluency before comprehension can occur. Learning to read involves a constant back-and-forth flow among these three skills.
A difficulty in any one of them can cause a breakdown in reading skill. Decoding Decoding means understanding the sounds associated with letter symbols and being able to put them together. A good reading program teaching decoding skills will include phonological awareness activities, blending sounds and segmenting sounds. Phonological awareness is the understanding that words are made up of individual letter/sound combinations. Blending is being able to put those sounds together to “read” a word. Segmenting is being able to separate a word into individual sounds.
In more advanced reading, blending and segmenting will be used to put together or take apart multisyllable words. Some instruction in decoding is useful for all readers to help them read unfamiliar words and also in spelling. Many readers understand the decoding system easily. Those who do not should receive more extensive, direct teaching in these skills. Decoding is what we often associate with phonics and is frequently considered the boring part of learning to read. But it doesn’t need to be. Teachers can help their child with phonics and phonological awareness through word games.
Rhyming activities, discussing words with alliterative sounds (“mean monsters munching mints”) or play games by deleting sounds (say “clap” without the “c”) are all ways to help young children become aware of sounds. Having them read or spell nonsense words (such as “glont” or “bresk”) can become a game which will help them practice using sounds and learn patterns in the English language Fluency Once a child knows all the sounds, he needs to be able to blend them automatically (or without consciously thinking about it) and speedily to achieve fluency. Fluency is the ability to read smoothly and with expression.
Fluency is the bridge between decoding and comprehension. Sometimes children work so hard at decoding each word in a sentence that they cannot remember what they read by the time they reach the end. They lack fluency. Fluency is an area where parents can help since it requires practice and modeling. Reading aloud to your children with expression and enjoyment both before and after they can read themselves, is a good way to model fluency. Once they have learned to read, read aloud collaboratively, taking turns reading a page. Repeated reading is another way to improve fluency, so do not hesitate to read the same books over and over.
Comprehension Comprehension is really the end-product, or goal, of reading. We read to gain knowledge and understanding, and we read for pleasure. Each of these requires good comprehension. Many thinking skills and life experiences involve reading comprehension. In addition to speed of decoding and fluency, comprehension has many other components, including knowledge of vocabulary and language usage, background knowledge, memory, sequencing (understanding and remembering events or ideas in the order in which they are presented), visualizing (making a picture in your head as you read) and focusing (maintaining attention and interest).
Teachers can have a great impact on a child’s reading comprehension. Again, reading aloud with children will inspire a love of books and reading and will provide vocabulary and language stimulation and background knowledge that will aid them when they begin to read themselves. Children who have dyslexia or a specific learning disability can benefit much more quickly from remediation if they have good listening comprehension. Reading books together gives children a chance to talk about the book, to discuss new facts and explore new ideas.
Children can also improve their vocabulary and background knowledge through discussions and activities with their friends (a trip to the zoo to learn about animals, a walk in the park to talk about kinds of plants). Integrating the Skills These three skills—decoding, fluency, and comprehension—are used continually as children’s reading skills progress. As new phonemes (letter/sound combinations) are added to reading, some children need lots of practice to become fluent with them. As they encounter more difficult words, reading may become less fluent, and the students may need to review or learn new decoding skills.
If decoding skills were shaky to begin with, that can become a problem as children encounter more difficult words. Sometimes in middle school, or even high school, a child will have difficulty reading new words, and he will benefit from some instruction in how to break words apart into their syllable parts for reading or spelling. A good reading program will include all three skills. It is important for teachers to understand that reading has several parts and requires many different skills. If a child is having difficulty with reading, he may need some testing or assessment to figure out the problem.
A teacher or tutor or academic therapist can then give the child specialized teaching to remediate the problem. Characteristics of Fluent Readers • read with a purpose (to get information or for pleasure) and understand the purpose of different texts (e. g. , ads to encourage buying, editorials to present and influence opinions, recipes to give instructions); • read quickly, automatically recognizing letters and words, maintaining a flow that allows them to make connections and inferences that make the text understandable;
• use a variety of strategies, depending on the text, to read efficiently (e. g., varying reading speed, predicting what will happen next, previewing headings and illustrations); • interact with the text, making use of background knowledge as well as the information on the printed page; • evaluate the text critically, determining whether they agree or disagree with the author; • expect to understand the text and get meaning from it; and • usually read silently. Conclusion Much research has been concerned with first language reading and has generated many approaches to teaching reading. However, there is a growing body of literature on both foreign language academic reading and second language reading.
All three areas contribute to the understanding of the reading process and have implications for instructional practice. Teachers who are aware of these reading approaches can tailor reading instruction to meet the needs and goals of English language learners. Suggestions for Developing Reading Instruction Knowing what good readers do and comparing this with the strategies used by learners in their classes will enable ESL teachers to gauge learners’ needs. Adult English language learners come with varied reading backgrounds and experiences.
Some are fluent readers in their native languages; some are not. Their view of literacy will be influenced by the literacy practices of their culture. Yet, they all will share the experience of learning to read in English, and they will approach reading differently from the way native speakers approach it (Rance-Roney, 1997). The following activities can help learners develop reading proficiency. The choice of activity, however, depends on the needs of the learners, the nature of the text, and the demands of the reading task. Reading Proficiency Activities 1.
Because good readers read with a purpose, learners should read texts that meet their needs and are interesting. Teachers can choose texts, or let the learners choose texts, that are relevant to the learners’ lives. They also need to be exposed to texts that they are likely to encounter in everyday life, such as newspapers and magazines, work memos, schedules, and medical instructions. 2. In order to develop automatic recognition skills, learners who are preliterate or literate in a language with a non-Roman alphabet should be given opportunities to develop letter recognition and sound-symbol correspondence skills.
This should not be done in isolation, but with familiar texts that they have practiced orally or heard before (Hood et al. , 1996). For example, learners can identify words that begin with a certain sound in a dialogue they know. Learners who are literate in their own language may find phonics instruction unproductive unless differences between their native language and English are pointed out. Spanish speakers, for example, need to know that the letter “a” can express more than one sound in English. Vocabulary development also plays a role in automaticity.
In texts where vocabulary may not be familiar, teachers can introduce key vocabulary in prereading activities that focus on language awareness, such as finding synonyms, antonyms, derivatives, or associated words (Hood et al. , 1996). Modified cloze exercises, where examples of the target structure (e. g. , prepositions) are deleted from a text and learners fill in as many blanks as they can, are also helpful. 3. Using appropriate strategies for various reading tasks increases comprehension, but acquiring an array of strategies is a long and difficult process (Grabe, 1995).
Nevertheless, such strategies as skimming for the main idea, scanning for specific information, predicting what a text is about or what will happen next, and making use of the context and illustrations to discover word meanings are critical for English language learners beyond the beginning level. 4. Prereading activities that introduce the text encourage learners to use their background knowledge (Eskey, 1997). Class members can brainstorm ideas about the meaning of a title or an illustration and discuss what they know. The teacher can highlight cultural assumptions inherent in the writing.
Awareness of various text types and their styles (advertisements, recipes, editorials) is also helpful. 5. Evaluating texts for implicit values and assumptions is another important reading skill. Reading texts that present different opinions or different descriptions of the same situation help develop an awareness of how language reflects values (Hood et al. , 1996). Texts that present an issue without presenting a solution, such as “Dear Abby” letters (without the replies), can lead to discussion and writing about differing points of view (Auerbach, 1992). 6. Good readers expect to understand what they are reading.
Therefore, texts should contain words and grammatical structures familiar to the learners (Eskey, 1997). However, it is not always easy to find texts that are both understandable and interesting for adult English language learners to read. Authentic reading material can often be found by the learners themselves, who have written pieces to share with each other. 7. Extensive reading for a sustained, uninterrupted period of time is not only valuable for developing vocabulary but is also an important way to develop reading proficiency and language acquisition in general (Grabe, 1991; Krashen, 1993).
In class, learners can engage in Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) of materials they have chosen themselves. They can be encouraged to read outside of class by maintaining (and periodically turning in) reading logs that list what they have read and by making one- to three-minute oral presentations recommending a book, story, or article to their classmates (Dupuy, Tse, & Cook, 1996). Conclusion Much research has been concerned with first language reading and has generated many approaches to teaching reading. However, there is a growing body of literature on both foreign language academic reading and second language reading.
All three areas contribute to the understanding of the reading process and have implications for instructional practice. Teachers who are aware of these reading approaches can tailor reading instruction to meet the needs and goals of English language learners. AN APPROACH TO A READING LESSON STAGE 1: Check understanding of ‘essential’ vocabulary. (Do you think it is necessary or desirable for your students to understand all the vocabulary) AIM: For students to understand the meaning of words essential to the completion of set tasks.
STAGE 2: Establish interest in the topic through discussion based on the topic or prediction. AIM: To generate students’ interest in the topic of the text. (These two stages are necessary to prepare the students for the reading skills. ) STAGE 3: Set atleast two different reading tasks. Give the easier task(questions), first to build confidence. This would be task which require scan reading. AIM: For students to have practice in scan reading skills. STAGE 4: Provide a task.
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