Reading and Vocabulary: Knowing, Guessing and Looking It Up


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Suzan Holtzman

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Reading and Vocabulary: Knowing, Guessing and Looking It Up

  1. 1. Reading and Vocabulary: <br />Knowing, Guessing and Looking It Up<br />Susan Holzman<br />ETAI<br />July, 2010<br />
  2. 2. So, how do we “teach” reading?<br />
  3. 3. predicting<br />Schemata<br />Writer’s purpose<br />genre<br />World Knowledge<br />scanning<br />skimming<br />Inferencing<br />Teaching reading ?<br />
  4. 4. Is L2 reading a reading problem <br />or a language problem? <br />(Alderson, 1984)<br />
  5. 5. Should we teach reading (skills and strategies)???<br />Should we teach language?<br />
  6. 6. Swan (2008) says:<br />The teaching of reading skills….commonly involves strategies which are of doubtful value…<br />
  7. 7. Alderson (1984) said<br />Below a certain level of language proficiency, reading is a language<br />problem…..<br />
  8. 8. KNOWING<br />For the task of academic reading, the main knowledge type of interest is lexical. Word knowledge is the key ingredient in successful reading in L1 and L2. . ., contributing more to L2 reading than other types of linguistic knowledge including syntax…”<br />[Cobb and Horst, 2001] <br />
  9. 9. KNOWING<br />. . .it has been consistently demonstrated that reading comprehension is strongly related to vocabulary knowledge, more strongly than to other components of reading”<br />Syntactic complexity. . .was found not to affect the level of reading comprehension.<br /> Laufer, 1997 <br />
  10. 10. Grabe (1997) <br />The finer points of grammar were unnecessary…what was more crucial for comprehension was a continuous supply of new vocabulary<br />KNOWING<br />
  11. 11. CONCLUSION 1<br />Teach vocabulary<br />
  12. 12. Knowledge of the world<br />Knowledge of the language<br />Knowledge of reading<br />Working Memory<br />TEXT<br />What do you do when you meet an unknown word that you do not want to ignore?<br />
  13. 13. What happens when we meet unfamiliar vocabulary?<br />Option 1 - Guess in Context<br />Option 2 – Use a dictionary<br /> English English Bilingual/Bilingiualized <br />Electronic Bilingual<br />
  14. 14. Option 1<br />Guess in Context<br />Use word families, use context<br />What happens to working memory?<br />Does this strategy work?<br />
  15. 15. GIST of<br />TEXT<br />Long term memory<br />roots<br />Working Memory<br />Short term <br />memory<br />Prefixes<br />suffixes<br />inflections<br />Guessing in Context<br />
  16. 16. GUESSING<br />But there were two problems with the guessing theory. First there was little evidence for it and strong evidence against it….<br />Second, the theory was harmless enough in L1 where children, whatever their teachers’ theories, made their guesses from a well-developed linguistic knowledge base.<br />But if L2 readers were not taught vocabulary and syntax, then they were really guessing when they read, from whatever world knowledge they happened to possess.<br /> Cobb and Horst, 2001<br />
  17. 17. GUESSING<br />The findings from the few reasonably well-conducted studies of guessing by non-native speakers have not shown large amounts of successful guessing and learning from guessing.<br />Nation, 2001<br />
  18. 18. GUESSING<br />Swan (2008)<br />The teaching of reading skills….commonly involves strategies which are of doubtful value: this is especially the case for training in ‘guessing unknown words’<br />
  19. 19. GUESSING<br />The results of this study shed light on the efficacy of guessing strategy. It was found that the ability of learners to guess the meaning of unknown words is of limited value….<br />Kaivanpanah and M Alavi, 2008<br />
  20. 20. “He felt that high levels of frustration developed when a reader relies solely on guessing the meaning of unfamiliar lexical items: The reader has a need to know that certain meanings are correct so that they can continue to read with some level of confidence…” (Grabe, 1997, p. 112)<br />GUESSING<br />
  21. 21. CONCLUSION 2<br />Guessing might be a nice classroom exercise..<br />But it is NOT a useful strategy for real reading<br />
  22. 22. Option 2: <br />Use a dictionary<br />Book or electronic?<br />English-English<br />Bilingual/Bilingualized?<br />Electronic?<br />
  23. 23. LOOKING IT UP<br />Bill [Grabe] made reasonably good progress learning to read with the primary input being extensive reading and bilingual dictionary use…<br />Grabe, 1997<br />
  24. 24. LOOKING IT UP<br />. . .the dictionary not only improved vocabulary learning, but also contributed to increased reading comprehension<br />Grabe, 1997<br />
  25. 25. Since the amount of information that can be cognitively manipulated at one point by controlled processing is limited, focusing on slightly or completely unfamiliar words will take up some cognitive capacity that would otherwise be used for higher level processing of text. Laufer, 1997 <br />LOOKING IT UP<br />
  26. 26. GIST of<br />TEXT<br />Long term memory<br />K l m n <br />Working Memory<br />Short term <br />memory<br />A b c d<br />O p q r s…<br />E f g h I j <br />Bilingual Dictionary<br />
  27. 27. Long term memory<br />GIST of<br />TEXT<br />Working Memory<br />Short term <br />memory<br />knowledge of the keyboard<br />Electronic Dictionary<br />
  28. 28. CONCLUSION 3<br />For unknown vocabulary, students should :<br />Use a dictionary<br />
  29. 29. Readingand Vocabulary: <br />Knowing,Guessingand<br />Looking It Up<br />CLASSROOM APPLICATIONS<br />
  30. 30. Classroom Applications:KNOWING<br />but the ultimate purpose of language teaching is to give students the language they need in order to read texts, not to teach them to manage as well as they can without that language. <br />Research has shown that for efficient reading, skilled readers need to be able to recognize rapidly 95% or more of the words in a text (Grabe and Stoller 2002: 186). <br />And in any case, if a student is seriously held up while reading by a difficult word, looking the word up beats guessing…(Swan, 2008)<br />
  31. 31. Classroom Applications:KNOWING<br /> Teach vocabulary<br />Basic vocabulary<br />Academic vocabulary <br />Words with two meanings<br />Words that can be confused<br />Lexical phrases<br />
  32. 32. Classroom Applications:GUESSING<br />Use guessing in context as a classroom technique for teaching and reviewing vocabulary<br /> Roots<br /> Prefixes<br /> Suffixes<br /> Inflections<br />
  33. 33. Classroom ApplicationsLOOKING IT UP<br />Actively teach dictionary use<br />Looking for the base form of the word<br />Finding the right meaning<br />Finding lexical phrases<br />
  34. 34. Thank you<br />Susan Holzman<br /><br />ARAB ACADEMIC INSTITUTE FOR TEACHER TRAINING AT BEIT BERL<br />