Traditionally, the purpose of learning to read in a language has been to have access to the literature written in that language. In language instruction, reading materials have traditionally been chosen from literary texts that represent "higher" forms of culture. This approach assumes that students learn to read a language by studying its vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure, not by actually reading it. In this approach, lower level learners read only sentences and paragraphs generated by textbook writers and instructors. The reading of authentic materials is limited to the works of great authors and reserved for upper level students who have developed the language skills needed to read them. The communicative approach to language teaching has given instructors a different understanding of the role of reading in the language classroom and the types of texts that can be used in instruction. When the goal of instruction is communicative competence, everyday materials such as train schedules, newspaper articles, and travel and tourism Web sites become appropriate classroom materials, because reading them is one way communicative competence is developed. Instruction in reading and reading practice thus become essential parts of language teaching at every level.
For example, the British Council’s 2010 report on IELTS reveals that the mean scores for Arab countries in academic reading are the lowest in the top 40 countries that are categorized by the number of candidates (Qatar 4.6, UAE 4.8, KSA 4.9, Oman & Kuwait 5, Libya 5.1 Jordan and Iraq 5.5, and Sudan 5.7). The report also shows that candidates whose first language is Arabic scored the second lowest (next to Amharic) average in the top 40 that are classified by first language backgrounds. Marsden (2002) studied the UAE Higher College of Technology (HCT) students’ performance in reading and reported that their performance in reading was lower than that of comparable groups of students elsewhere in the world in the Cambridge PET. Marsden and Wallace (2001) also present evidence that HCT students are weak readers in their L1 (Arabic) when compared to the “world mean”. O’Sullivan (2004) notes that UAE college students hold a negative attitude towards reading and that they have limited strategies and poor performance in reading comprehension.
Effective reading is, quite simply, a foundation skill for 21st century learners. Much of a student’s success in school, especially now that more and more schools use English as a medium of instruction, is based on reading comprehension skills. And since these skills provide a critical foundation for academic success, not only in English but in other subjects as well, the significance of reading education should not be underestimated. Teaching reading should be done in a way that is systematic and structured.
Clearly, reading also enhances learning in multiple ways. By way of addressing a variety of materials to read, students are given a chance to absorb vocabulary, grammar and sentence structures as they occur in authentic contexts, thus achieving a more complete picture of the ways in which the features of language work together to transfer meaning. Theorists (e.g. Miller & Gildea, 1987; Nagy & Anderson, 1984) assert that vocabulary growth during a learner’s lifetime occurs indirectly through language exposure rather than through direct teaching, and that reading, rather than oral language, is the major contributor to individual differences in learner vocabularies.
A. The Bottom-Up Approach: This stipulates that readers must decode the meaning of any text and that students can read only when they are able to sound out words in a text. Unlike the top–down approach, it ignores readers’ background “schemata” and emphasizes the ability to de-code or put into sound what is seen on the printed page. Teachers using this approach focus on decoding skills and spend almost no time helping emerging readers to recognize what they bring to the information in the text. B- The top–down approach: This focuses on what the reader brings to the reading process. The emphasis is on readers as they interact with the text. They are seen as active, making predictions, processing information, and reconstructing the author’s message. They sample the text for information and contrast it with their knowledge in order to make sense of the written text. C- The Interactive Approach : Many commentators recognize the value of and need for both the text and the reader in the reading process, so these are amalgamated in the interactive approach, which stresses what is in the text and what a reader brings to it by using both top-down and bottom-up skills. Good readers are both skillful decoders and good text interpreters. In order to read with fluency and accuracy, students need to master both their bottom-up recognition skills and top-down interpretation skills. The illustration below explains how the interactive approach works. The drawing clearly shows that comprehension is a multipart process that includes a combination of interrelated elements that depend on one another.
When students read with the intent to understand, they learn to apply strategies and they learn to think actively while they are reading. If students aren ’ t interested and engaged, if the assignment is not relevant to them, they will be less motivated to do the difficult work involved in becoming a better reader as they advance to increasingly difficult and complex text.
Another challenge when learning to read may lie in the text itself, in its language, for example, especially when there is a mismatch between the text selected and students’ language level.
Instructor perceptions of the reading process significantly affect the way we teach reading.
Again – just a quick graphic to show all the processes that happen for reading comprehension to occur.
Studies have shown that a strong basis in a first language fosters school accomplishment in a second language (Cummins, 1979). Brown and Zwann (1996) conclude that the transfer of L1 reading strategies is the facilitative effect of a high L1 reading ability shown by readers with a low L2 proficiency. They also assert that readers with a high L1 reading ability tend to be more accurate in their “paraphrasing” than those with a low L1 ability. This finding is echoed in Yamashita (1999), who reported that readers with a high L1 reading ability showed a significantly higher proportion of successful rather than unsuccessful “local strategies”, while readers with a low L1 reading ability did not show any such facilitative effect. This suggests that readers tend to transfer and use their L1 strategies in the process of L2 reading. In her study on challenges facing Omani students, Al Mahrooqi (2012, p.27) concludes that “… student reading in Arabic is underdeveloped, which makes a positive transfer of learning into English is almost impossible.” However, teachers should keep in mind that these L1 strategies are not always effective in helping second language learners build a proper meaning from the text because of their weak proficiency in English. In the Arab world, education systems have failed to create a reading generation or a sufficiency of good writers, both of which are primary conditions for creating a conducive reading environment . Finally, Hayes and Schmauder (1999) argue that the ESL reading comprehension difficulties exhibited by native speakers of Arabic may result from deficient letter and word identification.
If the writer is from a different background, students need to be aware of the cultural norms in the author’s world in order to identify examples of language deviance and their significance. Besides linguistic skills, students also need background knowledge to fully comprehend texts that address international topics (Horowitz, 1990) and written by authors who assume their readers share the same background knowledge and perhaps norms.
comprehension instruction is very important in the reading process and English teachers should pay close attention to it so that their students will develop operational reading habits. Worthy & Broaddus (2002) highlight how teacher passion about reading could have a positive effect on their students’ interest in reading. In order to engage your students in the reading process, they say, you need quality instruction and student engagement is critical for improving reading abilities. For instance, Many, Dewberry, Taylor, and Coady (2009) claim that teachers who have a good understanding of language and literacy development provide more approachable and meaningful reading instruction for their students. Teachers, who demonstrate instructions that include establishing connections with student experiences and prior knowledge, making the most of teachable moments, and using multiple resources to support students’ reading, usually see their students’ achievements improve.
There is a difference between helping students develop comprehension skills and determining if they have them. Have a discussion with participants about what happens in classrooms on a regular basis especially in the upper grades. What are some ways we can help students develop comprehension skills instead of always going toward evaluating? Our goal is to teach comprehension as illustrated on the left, not to simply test if students can comprehend. When teaching a strategy, the teacher wants to keep this model in mind. The teacher should model the strategy using a think aloud process and then use guided instruction in many practice opportunities. Gradually release the responsibility of the strategy to the student. The tricky part with struggling readers is how much to let go and when. We have to be cognizant of their beliefs about themselves and make sure they feel safe enough to take a risk to try the strategy with less and less structure available to them.
There is a little discussion about whether students actually learned to use reading strategies or whether it was a way to get them more actively engaged in reading a text. Although strategy instruction of various types has been found to improve comprehension, we do no know why this is the case. Somewhat ironically, strategy instruction may not improve children ’ s use of strategies but may encourage them to look at text in a different manner, possibly increasing their cognitive engagement with text, and, through this increased engagement, become better at comprehending. (Stahl, 2004 – Reading Research at Work)
Schools should identify a small repertoire of powerful reading strategies that are taught explicitly and intensely to struggling readers in reading support classes to accelerate development, and are also modeled and supported in content-area classes. This will increase the generalization of learning. Content-area teachers may teach some discipline specific strategies, for example, strategies that only apply to science. But they will also use more general strategies that can be taught to struggling readers and used in content-area classes. Since ELL students spend the bulk of their time with content-area teachers, these teachers have a special opportunity to assist them in improving their ability to learn from text. Focused work on vocabulary and background knowledge may be required to support the English language learners ’ literacy development. Perhaps the most important aspect of literacy instruction for ELLs is to help them acquire the English language skills that are the foundation for comprehending text written in English. Because many ELLs face challenges with English, it is essential that they receive effective instruction in comprehension strategies and vocabulary.
Nile tesol2013 dr.omar
To Read or Not to Read That is the questionNILE TESOL 2013 Omar Al Noursi
Institute of Applied TechnologyUnited Arab Emirates
Agenda1.Decline in reading2.NeedTESOL 2013 NILE for improving reading comprehension3.Sources of reading comprehension difficulties4.Improving reading comprehension
Introduction The purpose of learning to readNILE TESOL 2013
READING ABILITIES ARE IN DECLINE.∗ the British Council’s 2010 report on IELTS .NILE TESOL 2013∗ Marsden (2002)∗ Marsden and Wallace (2001)∗ O’Sullivan (2004)
The need for improving reading comprehension∗ Much of a student’s success is based on reading comprehension skills. NILE TESOL 2013reading failure can last an entire lifetime and make higher education and higher earnings out of reach∗ literacy is also seen as essential for success in the workplace.
The need for improving reading comprehension∗ reading also enhances learning English in multiple ways :NILE TESOL 2013 grammar and sentence structures as Absorb Vocabulary, they occur in authentic contexts building solid information about different topics reading boosts analytical thinking insights into the lives and worldview of those who speak the target language
Approaches to dealing with a reading text ∗ A.TESOL 2013NILE The Bottom-Up Approach ∗ B- The top–down approach ∗ C- The Interactive Approach
Do These Approaches Really ‘Teach’Reading?∗ Can you ‘teach’ reading in limited class time?∗ Don’t we sometimes teach how to ‘avoid’ NILE TESOL 2013 actually reading?∗ Is there ever going to be one method that suits all our diverse learners?
Sources of Comprehension Difficulties a. Lack of motivation Motivation is critical for reading in a second/foreign language. NILE TESOL 2013 learners view reading in English as a school subject and academic task,“Motivated students usually want to understand text content fully and therefore, process information deeply. As they read frequently with these cognitive purposes, motivated students gain in reading comprehension proficiency” John Guthrie
Sources of Comprehension Difficulties b. Difficulty of the text: mismatch between the text selected and students’ language level. NILE TESOL 2013 Unfamiliar vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure hamper students’ understanding. (Fecteau, 1999). The gap between the student general and cultural knowledge and that found in the authentic text was reported to undermine the activation of global strategies t. (AL-Mahrooqi,2012)
Sources of Comprehension Difficulties c. Misunderstanding of the reading process reading process is a highly personal activity and hence NILE TESOL 2013and monitor. difficult to observe quite often the reader may not be in a position to explain the process Rumelhart (1977) points out, reading involves the reader, the text and the interaction between the reader and the text.
Sources of Comprehension DifficultiesFor comprehension to occur, the reader shouldodecode the words,oattach the meaning to words and sentences,oconnect text information to relevant background NILE TESOL 2013knowledge,omaintain a mental representation of what thereader has already read,oform hypotheses about upcoming information andomake decisions based on the reader’s purposefor reading – all at the same time. Carlisle and Rice, 2002
Sources of Comprehension Difficulties 4. Weak first language basis “ the L2 user does not switch off the L1 while processing the L2, but has it constantly available” NILE TESOL 2013 (Cook,1992 p. 571). Higher level readers transfer their L1 reading ability more successfully than lower level readers.
Sources of Comprehension Difficulties 5.Writing style and text organizationWriting style and structure are also believed to pose a problemforNILE TESOL 2013 comprehend texts (Davis et al, 1992; Al- students in trying toMahrooqi, 2012).Some passages of the IELTS tests, for example, are widelydisliked due to an abundance of metaphorical language andimagery that students fail to interpret (Kamariah, 2009).
Sources of Comprehension Difficulties 6.Teaching practices: Teachers use the transmission model to deliver information. 90% of teachers see reading as a pronunciation exercise and NILE TESOL 2013 teach only one strategy that enables students to obtain explicit information from a graded passage. (Mustafa,2002)
Sources of Comprehension Difficulties∗ Cont….Teaching practices:Read and answer the question. NILE TESOL 2013“ She gronked the floobe” Question: what did she gronk?
Sources of Comprehension Difficulties 7. Students While-Reading Behavior Word-by-word reading, pointing Regression: Needless or unconscious rereading, habitual and signals lack of concentration Moving lips while reading (Vocalization)NILE TESOL 2013 Talking to oneself in as s/he reads silently (Sub-vocalization) translate the whole text Physical habits: Tapping foot, pencil Watching TV, eating, interruptions, etc.(Distractors)∗ These behaviors are believed to reduce reading speed, comprehension and recall.
Improving Students’ Reading Abilities1.Text Readability make sense of the information in a passage: Measure text readability ? NILE TESOL 2013 Teacher intuition , handy tools Simplified (bridged)text Nativized text gradual introduction of authentic materials (Al Mahrooqi, 2012)
Improving Students’ Reading Abilities2.Better Text selection ∗ students’ interest ∗ great pleasure and fill students’ curiosity to know more NILE TESOL 2013 Effectiveness of reading instructions depends not only on students’ linguistic and literacy skills but also on the level of interest, (Guthrie, et, al 2004)
Improving Students’ Reading Abilities3. Teaching Strategies ∗ Teacher preparation ∗ TESOL 2013 NILEattractive teaching strategies ∗ conducive “reading” environment ∗ motivate students to read. ∗ Understand students reading behavior
Agree/ Disagree WhyA. Comprehension occurs naturally after a studentlearns to decode, thus comprehension just needsto be tested. NILE TESOL 2013 B. Comprehension will improve through isolated teaching of specific comprehension skills (e.g. sequence, cause and effect, main idea).C. Students must be taught to flexibly use arepertoire of strategies for text comprehension.
Improving Students’ Reading Abilities3. Teaching Strategies Developing vs Testing Comprehension Comprehension Process-Oriented Product-Oriented NILE TESOL 2013 Modeling Testing Grading Guided Practice Evaluating Independence Adapted by Dr. Lois Huffman from (Richardson & Morgan, 2000)
…a growing body of research hasdemonstrated that students can be taught NILE TESOL 2013the strategies that good readers usespontaneously and that when students aretaught those strategies, both their recall andtheir comprehension of text improve. (Pressley, 2002; Stahl, 2004)
Improving Students’ Reading Abilities4. Building a solid repertoire of words: NILE TESOL 2013 ∗ word knowledge is the key ingredient in successful reading (Cobb,1999) vocabulary sufficiency in facilitating reader autonomous abilities. (Al Mahrooqi,2012)
Improving Students’ Reading Abilities5. Using the Library ∗ Libraries are poorly equipped and rarely visited ∗ Role of school librarians NILE TESOL 2013 ∗ collaboration between the classroom teacher and the librarian
Improving Students’ Reading Abilities6. Using technology Technology has undoubtedly changed what people read, how they read, and when they read. NILE TESOL 2013 Features of eBook Internet
Improving Students’ Reading Abilities7.Involve content teachers in teaching Reading NILE TESOL 2013Conte nt-a re a te a che rs ne e d to be e nga ge d in a unifie da pproa ch to lite ra cy ins truction in which the y a cquireproficie ncy in two to four high-impa ct s tra te gie s /pra ctice s tha tthe y the n us e cons is te ntly within the ir a re a s of ins truction.”(S ha ron Va ughn)
READING IS NOT MAGIC IT REQUIRES: ∗ The desire to improve your students reading skills ∗ The willingness to try new techniques in teachingNILE TESOL 2013 reading ∗ The motivation to practice reading
NILE TESOL you want children to read well, “If 2013 they must read a lot. If you want children to read a lot, they must read well.”