Efficient Reading


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Efficient Reading

  1. 1. EFFICIENT READINGKNOWING WHAT YOU WANT FROM READINGIf you are in a hurry to find out how to use a fire extinguisher, speed is at a premium: but there is no advantagein reading the instructions quickly if you still can´t operate the extinguisher at the end. The first requirement forefficient reading is to know what you want, then judge.The criterion of efficiency is of course not always appropriate. If you are reading for pleasure, there is not muchpoint in defining your purpose. However, if you are reading to learn or for many practical purposes.So the first thing for student to do is to decide exactly what he wants to get out of his reading.Try to set tasks that reflect the real needs of the class.CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIALOnce a reader has defined his objective, he must next decide what sources to consult. If students are able touse skimming and scanning, they can shorten the time taken to choose material and also make their selectionmore reliable.USING EXTERNAL RESOURCESA biography of a knowledgeable person is the first resource for choosing material. After that you must rely onbiographies from other resources, and on library catalogues and so on.USING RESOURCES WITHIN THE TEXTLinear and non-linear textWhen we use the word text, we normally have in mind the expression of ideas in sequences of sentences andparagraphs, this is often called linear text, other parts of a text are non-linear, they do not enter into theorganization of sentences, paragraphs and so on.Reference apparatus: all the parts of a text that helpthe reader to locate information or predict what thetext contains.Figures: we include under this heading all information such as diagrams, tables, maps, graphs andillustrations.Graphic conventions: layout, punctuation, type face, use of symbols and so on.TITLES AND HEADINGSTitles are not always reliable indicators of content, but they are a reasonable starting point in choosing relevanttexts.you can take them from several angles:1. Get students to predict from the title the likely content of the book, article, etc.2. Get students to choose, from titles alone, they could consult first on a given topic.3. Present students with an article or chapter that has headings at various levels.THE BLURBThere is usually a blurb on the back cover of a book, or on the inside fold of the dust jacket, blurbs may includepress comment. Blubs are useful for selecting the right book: yet students seem unaware of them. Use someactivities to draw attention to them.1. Supply a list of titles2. Supply a selection of blurbsEfficiency means using the least effort to obtain satisfactory results: we want students touse their time and energy to best effect.
  2. 2. 3. Supply a selection of blurbs + titles4. Supply some blurbsBIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE WRITER.THE SUMMARY, RUNNING TITLES, TABLE OF CONTENTS, LIST OF FIGURES.1. Supply several books that provide summaries in different forms.2. Supply a table of contents and a set of questions.3. Supply a table of contents of a book where topic x is likely to be mentioned in several chapters.PRELIMINARY MATERIAL: FOREWARD, PREFACE, INTRODUCTIONThe usefulness of these sections depends on what use the writer makes them, they often include statementsof purpose and sometimes outline the writer´s qualifications for writing the book.INDEXSkimming through an index is another short cut in deciding whether a book suits your purpose.Students should be able to:Explain the kind of material likely to be found in an appendix.Locate notes indicated in the text.Give the full details of an abbreviated bibliographical reference by referring to the bibliographyUse a bibliography to choose potentially suitable texts for further reading for a given purpose.Look up the meaning of any symbol, abbreviation, or technical term and interpret accurately thepassage of text in which it occurs.GRAPHIC CONVENTIONSWritersand printers use a variety of conventions to help readers find the way through a text, print size andstyle, layout, even punctuation.In English, the conventions that are useful but likely to be unrecognized by some learners include the following.LAYOUT, SPACING, IDENTATIONLAYOUT: in general is used to indicate which parts of the text go together, to signal the start of a new topic.SPACING BETWEEN LETTERS AND WORDS: is seldom significant, but spacing between lines.IDENTATION: often signals the start of a new paragraph or section.TYPE FACEIt is safe to say that a change in type is usually significant, but less easy to say how, since publishing houseshave different styles. Type can vary in four ways:1. Type design.2. Standard, italic or bold3. Type size4. Upper or lower case.Functions just outlined are not difficult to interpret, once you are aware of them more tricky.The main functions are as follows:1. To make words easy to locate:Proper names in some styles of journalismTechnical terms at the point where they are defined
  3. 3. Phrases of linear text that serve as summaries or subtitles.2. To mark the use of a foreign word or phrase.3. To cite the title of a book, film, etc.4. To distinguish a cited word/phrase.5. To indicate emphasis.PUNCTUATIONYet punctuation reflects meaning.SYMBOLSSymbols referring to notes such as asterisk.Symbols relating to text continuity such as the arrow or similar pointing.FIGURESThe figures accompanying text are the finalresource to be discussed again, the are often under-used.IMPROVING READING SPEEDThis topic comes last because, as we have seen, speed is not the only factor to consider when judgingsomeone´s reading efficiency.Speed and comprehensionEye movement and sense groupsTraining students to take in longer chunks* Texts are set out in narrow columns with one sense group in each line.* You can prepare similar material* Practice materials is available on film and computer with one sense group displayed at a time.Choosing texts for speed practice: th time needed to read a text depends on its linguistic difficulty andon the density of the information it carries.FINDING OUT STUDENTS´ READING SPEEDFirst get the students’ cooperation by explaining the program, this is important. Begin by finding out how fastyour students read now. Explain how the activities will be organized and emphasize that nobody must startreading until you are ready. Stand beside the chart where every student can see it and keep count of the time.When students finish reading, he immediately looks at your pointer and notes the time it shows.The procedure is more complicated to explain than to do!BALANCING SPEED AND COMPREHENSIONAs reading is partly a physical skill, to some extent speed can be improved without reference tocomprehension. However speed is worthless unless the reader understans what he reads.READING HABITS IN THE L1We noted that some students do not read efficiently even I their l1. This hinders the development of efficientreading in the foreign language, for there is a strong transfer or reading habits from one language to another.FAULTY READING HABITSThe books listed in further reading include techniques that can be adapted to speed training in any language.Some were written with learners of English as a foreign language in mind, but others are for l1 readers, so weneed to treat cautiously some of the suggestions made about faults in reading technique.
  4. 4. CAUTIONAll these habits can slow down a reader, so students need to be aware that efficient readers seldom use them.SOME APPROACHES TO IMPROVING READING SPEEDUsing a card guideProjected textsComputers and other machinesA SPED READING PROGRAMMEIn speed exercises of all kinds, students should be urged to beat their own records, not to complete withanother. There is no sense trying to read faster than someone else.A REMINDERIf you cannot organize a regular program, at least talk to students about reading efficiently and give thempractice in some of the strategies we have considered.SELECTING TEXTSWHY TEACHERS NEED TO ASSESS TEXTSEven if you have little control over the choice of textbooks, it helps to be aware of their strong points andlimitations so taha you can exploit them effectively, supplement them if necessary, and perhaps argue the casefor their replacement.CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING TEXTS FOR READING DEVELOPMENTSuitability of content* Finding out what students like*Selecting texts for classroom study.Exploitability: the most important criterion after interest.* The purpose of the reading lesson* Integrating reading skills* simulating real life purposes* other integrative tasksUsing longer textsReadability: is often used to refer to the combination of structural and lexical difficulty.*assessing the students level* learn new vocabulary* Structural difficulty* Calculating the readability index* Cloze as an indicator of readability* A word of cautionVariety: reading courses can be made more interesting if a variety of texts is used over the year. Thismay be true even for classes with a fairly narrow and specific purpose for learning the language.Authenticity: many teachers like to use authentic texts, are texts written for use by the foreign languagecommunity, not for language learners. We have already suggested that these may be motivating.Presentation*looking authentic
  5. 5. * looking attractive*reproducing material for the classroom*copyrightAPPROACHING READING IN THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSROOMReasons for using texts in th e foreign language classroomLanguage lessons and reading lessonsAIMS OF A RADING PROGRAMTo enable studentsTo enjoyTo read without helpUnfamiliar textsAuthentic textsAppropriate speedSilentlyWith adequate understandingROLE OF THE TEACHEREnjoying and valuingHelping students to enjoyUnderstanding what reading involvesFinding out what students can and cannot doChoosing suitable texts to workChoosing or devising effective tasks and activities.ROLE OF THE STUDENTMonitoring comprehensionLearning text talkTaking risksLearning not to cheat oneselfTHE WRONG KIND OF HELPTesting instead of teachingDoing what the reader must do for himselfREASONS WHAT STUDENTS FAILNegative expectationsUnsuitable tasksThe wrong proceduresExpecting them to run before they can walkThe wrong textsPROCEDURES THAT PROMOTE LEARNINGThe next step levelScaffoldingOral classroom interactionText talkClassroom atmosphereLearner trainingEquipping students for the future