Comparative essay on reading
José Miguel Casanueva
Camila Cuevas
Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción (UCSC)
Nowadays, there is much research about second language reading
comprehension. However, some years ago these matters were n...
the text itself and not to the language. Futhermore, both authors agree that the purpose
of extensive reading is to get th...
Secondly, while Brown (2000) mentions extensive reading as a part of the
process, Harmer (2001) states extensive reading s...
References
Brown, H. D. (2000). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language
pedagogy. 2nd
ed. White Plains...
References
Brown, H. D. (2000). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language
pedagogy. 2nd
ed. White Plains...
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Comparative essay on reading

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Transcript of "Comparative essay on reading"

  1. 1. Comparative essay on reading José Miguel Casanueva Camila Cuevas Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción (UCSC)
  2. 2. Nowadays, there is much research about second language reading comprehension. However, some years ago these matters were not of much relevance. On this essay, we will show a comparison stressing differences and similarities between two outstanding EFL authors and researchers from our era, Brown “Teaching by Principles” (2000) and Harmer “The practice of English language teaching” (2001). On the one hand we will start by presenting the most important similarities we found between the works of both authors. Firstly, if we focus our attention on Brown’s theory, we can state that they are two different approaches to develop second language reading. These two theories emphasize a different focus depending on what we want to teach. Goodman’s (1970) work on the distinction between bottom-up and top-down strategies has become a cornerstone of the reading comprehension ESL methodology. The bottom-up theory emphasizes the student’s ability to recognize a multiplicity of lingusitic signals and it uses a linguistic data process in order to organize the information. On the other hand, the top-down theory is more focused on the intelligence and the experiences of the reader to understand a text. (Brown, 2000). Secondly, we will examine Harmer’s theory. It is also divided into two different methods. The intensive reading is more focused on word-recognition and is more directed towards specific activities, such as paying attention to the different phrasal verbs on a text. On the other hand the extensive reading is considerable less controlled by the teacher. The students are responsible for their reading in order to have an overview of the text. According to Harmer (2001), one of the fundamentals of a successful extensive reading programme is that students should be reading material that they can understand and that they find interesting. For this reason, we have found that there is a clear relationship between bottom- up strategies and the intensive reading method due to the fact that both are related to looking for specific information on a text. They are also more focused on word- formation and grammar and the use of different mechanisims to organise the information. On the other side, the top-down strategies are more connected with the extensive reading method considering that in both the attention is paid to the meaning of
  3. 3. the text itself and not to the language. Futhermore, both authors agree that the purpose of extensive reading is to get the readers’ attention and motivate them so that they can start reading for pleasure. Recent research on teaching reading has shown that a combination of top-down and bottom-up processing would be much better than selecting one or another. According to Nuttall (1996) in practice a reader continually shifts from one focus to another, using a top-down approach to predict meaning, then moving to the bottom-up to check whether that is really what the writer says. Futhermore, Harmer (2001) states that there is a common paradox in reading lessons in which teachers encourage students to read for general understanding, without worrying about the meaning of every single word, whereas students are desperate to know what each individual word means. For this reason, it has been stated that we need to find some accomodation between our desire to have students develop specific reading skills and their natural urge to understand the meaning of every word. This is very connected to what Brown (2000) called interactive reading. According to this, we have found that there is a notorious affiliation between the two author’s ideas. On the other hand, in terms of dissimilarities, we have found there are some of them between both authors which will be explained below. Firstly, whereas Brown (2000) states the importance of creating an interrelationship of skills (speaking, writing, listening and reading) putting special emphasis on the reading-writing connection, Harmer (2001) does not mention this as a determining characteristic when teaching reading in a class. There is a great difference when developing whether if there are two or the four skills at the moment of teaching, since the objective of teaching a language is to promote a complete understanding of it through the usage of various learning skills, this is why it is important to create a learning environment where many skills can work together, which will certainly facilitate the role of both the teacher and student.
  4. 4. Secondly, while Brown (2000) mentions extensive reading as a part of the process, Harmer (2001) states extensive reading should work along with intensive reading. The difference relies on the characteristics both types of reading have. On the one hand, we understand by extensive reading as the opportunity students have to choose by themselves what they want to read whether if it is for pleasure or in order to get general language improvement, where teachers play roles of organizers and tutors for their students. This is what Brown (2000) considers to be enough for creating a good environment of learning reading, but on the other hand, we have Harmer (2001) stating extensive and intensive reading should work along. Intensive reading basically consists on reading a text, book, magazine, paying special attention to every word in the text in order to get the exact meaning of what is written. In short, we can see clearly the main difference between both authors in this matter; whereas Brown (2000) considers reading should be focused on getting the main idea and used only for pleasure, putting attention to the four learners skills, Harmer (2001), on the contrary declares both the intensive and extensive reading are needed in order to achieve a great level of proficiency, but without concentrating in many skills at the same time. Finally, it can be stated that even though these authors are contemporary, they do not share the same ideas. As we said before, Brown (2000) stated that there is a notorious connection between writing and reading and the usage extensive reading and no other, whereas Harmer (2001) asserted that we need to find some accommodation between extensive and intensive reading. In contrast, we have found that they are some similarities between the two authors. For instance both Brown and Harmer divide the reading learning process into two categories each, the former uses bottom-up and top- down and the latter extensive and intensive reading.
  5. 5. References Brown, H. D. (2000). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. 2nd ed. White Plains, NY: Longman. Goodman, K. (1970). Reading: A psycholinguistic guessing game. International Reading Association. Harmer, J. (2001). The practice of English language teaching. 3rd ed. White Plains, NY: Longman. Nuttall, C. (1996). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language.2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  6. 6. References Brown, H. D. (2000). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. 2nd ed. White Plains, NY: Longman. Goodman, K. (1970). Reading: A psycholinguistic guessing game. International Reading Association. Harmer, J. (2001). The practice of English language teaching. 3rd ed. White Plains, NY: Longman. Nuttall, C. (1996). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language.2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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