Classroom • Our own and ourobservations colleagues’ Identification • Not in keeping with the institutional guidelines of and experts’ problematic recommendations. areas • Mini-course to raise Action awareness; Experiential approach
Reading is seen as a boringactivity that needs to be“packaged” in a fun way, whichmay actually hamper thedevelopment of reading skills. In an attempt to make the reading and listening more palatable to students, teachers fail to help them develop strategies that will lead them to become independent readers and listeners. Listenings and readings, especially, end up becoming more of a springboard to speaking or to learning grammar and vocabulary.
Answer pre-course questionnaire: knowledge and beliefs concerning the teaching of listening and reading. Engage in an authentic, integrated listening and reading lesson tailored to the group´s needs. Explore main theoretical principles underlying listening and reading comprehension. Examine what proficient readers do, focus on reading strategies, and go over the necessary steps in every listening and reading class. Reexamine the questionnaire answered prior to the course, in the light of what was discussed on the four days.
Context: Private language institute Participants: Most teachers with 5+ years of experience; 32 in two sessions, delivered in 2011 and 2012 Analysis of pre and post-mini-course questionnaires
Which items do youthink propitiated the greatest awareness- raising?
1) Good readers believe that reading is decoding and pronouncing the words correctly. 35 31 30 27 25 20 15 9% 10 5 3 1 0 0 0 True False Not answered
2) Reading aloud in class enhances students’understanding and pronunciation.35 323025 2420 25%1510 8 True 5 False 0 0
- If a teacher says ‘My students really enjoy X’, you can usually interpret this as ‘I like X, and I ask my students to do it a lot’. Which CAN be a good thing. But not with reading aloud. - The idea that this kind of reading aloud is good speaking practice is patently absurd. It isn’t real speaking at all, it’s reading aloud, a sub-skill that very few people have in their own language, let alone in one that they are learning. - Good for their pronunciation? Not in my experience. In fact, when I’ve had to the chance to talk to students afterwards, I discovered that their speaking was markedly better than I might have imagined if I had only heard them struggling through the text.http://kenwilsonelt.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/reading-aloud-in-class-is-a-complete-waste-of-time-discuss/
(...) This reading around the class is something we recall from our old school days. Why might this popular technique not be effective? -I read faster than he speaks. - It’s so boring. - She makes mistakes. - I’ve already read to page 37 myself. - He can’t pronounce it and he gets embarrassed. - I’m so nervous about reading, I miss the story. - I can’t follow the story with all these different people speaking. - I prefer to read to myself. - It’s going to be 35 minutes till my go. Round the class reading tends to be a slow, tedious, turn-off rather than a rouser of enthusiasm.(Scrivener, 2005, pp.189, 190)
Frequently the task of processing meaning and speaking aloud at the same time is too much for the learner, with the consequence that processing meaning gets dropped. Thus, it doesn’t improve reading skills, and neither is it useful for language reinforcement, as the learner is reading without understanding.Sue Swift@eltnotebook http://eltnotebook.blogspot.com.br/2006/12/reading-aloud.html
Being strategic while readingdoes not guarantee successfulcomprehension. Readers mayapply a variety ofstrategies, monitor theircomprehension, and still notunderstand what they arereading. But the strategic readerwill not give up. A strategicreader focuses on successful (Anderson, 2009, p.comprehension and does all 136)that it takes to understand. Non-strategic readers give up soon.
4) The Communicative Approachemphasizes bottom-up processing at theexpense of top-down processing.35 3030 40%2520 17 TRUE15 FALSE 12 Blank10 5 3 2 0 0 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
Types of comprehension processing Top Down Concept-drivenComprehension is theprocess of using The starting point islinguistic knowledge to within the mind of thedecipher the little black listener or reader.marks in the text. Comprehension is aThe starting point is the process of making sensetext itself. of a text in the most cost- effective way.Data-drivenBottom Up
READING FOR COMPREHENSION DUAL APPROACHHan and D´Angelo (2009) READING FOR ACQUISITION
Reading is a process of constructing meaning from text. Readers use background knowledge and linguistic cues from the graphophonic, syntactic, and semantic systemsFreeman and Freeman (2009) as they read.
The almost exclusive focus on top- down, schema-based approaches to reading instruction emphasized in Communicative Language Teaching is insufficient to develop effective readers.(Grabe, 2009)
5) The word “text” refers to anycommunicative unit.35 3130 34%25 2020 TRUE15 FALSE 11 Blank10 5 1 1 0 0 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
6) Reading and listening are passive skillswhich involve top-down and bottom-upprocessing. 35 31 30 50% 25 20 17 15 TRUE 15 FALSE 10 5 1 0 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
7) Letters, labels, comic strips, andreports are examples of text genres.35 3230 15% 272520 TRUE15 FALSE10 5 5 0 0 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
“Genres are forms of life, ways ofbeing. They are frames for socialaction, the place where meaning isconstructed.” (Bazerman, 2006)
8) I often assign readings for homeworkdue to the lack of time in class.16 1514 12%12 11 1010 TRUE 8 6 FALSE 6 Blank 4 2 1 1 0 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
9) I feel uncomfortable assigning a ten-minute text forstudents to read in class because I feel I’m notteaching. 30 28 26 25 09% 20 TRUE 15 FALSE 10 Blank 6 5 3 1 0 0 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
10) When the listening is too long or morechallenging, it should be broken into smallerchunks.35 3230 62%25 2020 TRUE15 FALSE 10 Blank10 5 2 0 0 0 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
Students should first listen to the whole recorded passage once, trying to get the general outline. (Snow ,2007, p. 94) A simple plan would be as follows: -Set questions. -Play recording. -Check if students have found the answers. - If not, play the recording again as often as necessary. (p. 172)(Brown, 2001, p. Utilize authentic language and258) contexts: authentic language and real-world tasks enable students to see the relevance of classroom activity to their long-term communicative goals
11) Before students read a text, it is a good idea topre-teach them all the most difficult words to lowertheir anxiety.30 2825 37%20 16 14 TRUE15 FALSE10 Blank 5 4 2 0 0 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
In order to make students, better readers, we need first of all to raise their awareness that it‟s not always essential to understand every word, and that practising some different reading techniques in English may be very useful to them. (p. 184) 1. High frequency words deserve sustained attention. 2. Low frequency words are best ignored or dealt with quickly.3. The vocabulary learning strategies of guessing from context, analysing words using word parts, and dictionary use deserve repeated attention over a long period of time. (Nation, 2009. p. 38)
Bargain with students: They do more or less what we ask of them provided that we do more of less what they ask of us. We may encourage students to read for general understanding without understanding every word on a first of second read-through. But then, depending on what else is going to be done, we can give them a chance to ask questions about individual words and/or give them a chance to look them up.(Harmer, 2007, p.287)
12) When the text is too long, we can break it into partsand have each group read one part and share it orally(jigsaw reading). This way, the class becomes morecommunicative and students won’t get bored by havingto read the whole text.35 65%30 2925 2320 TRUE15 FALSE Blank10 85 2 1 10 Pre-questionnaire Post-questionnaire
Controlling the formal aspects of language use in reading and writing is a way out from subordinate and marginalized uses of language. (...) Leaving language instruction at an intuitive and „mystical‟ level of „natural language acquisition‟ may be easy for the teacher and may make some students feel good, but it leads to disempowerment.(Grabe, 2002, p. 279)
Teachers’ VoicesThe mini-course Tips to activate“Receptive Skills” was eye-openingin several aspects. Specifically, Ihave integrated reading activitiesinvolving both bottom-up and top-down processing skills in myteaching practice.
Teachers’ Voices The mini-course did have impact on my teaching. During this semester, I tried to work with different text genres to raise students reading comprehension skills, which led to much more colorful debates in class.Also, I didnt feel I was wasting time while doing long listening andreading exercises in class; on the contrary, the students benefitedfrom the time given to read and understand the texts (especiallyadults) and to explore the vocabulary in a meaningful way.
ReferencesAnderson, N. J. (2009). ACTIVE Reading: The Research Base for a Pedagogical Approach in the ReadingClassroom. In ZhaoHong Han & Neil J. Anderson (Editors). Second Language Reading Research andInstruction – Crossing the Boundaries. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.Bazerman, C. (2006). Gênero, Agência e Escrita. São Paulo: Cortêz.Brown, D. (2001). Teaching by Principles. White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley, Longman.Freeman, D. and Freeman, Y. (2009). Effective Reading Instruction for English Language Learners. InZhaoHong Han & Neil J. Anderson (Editors). Second Language Reading Research and Instruction – Crossingthe Boundaries. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.Grabe, W. (2002). Dilemmas for the Development of Second Langauge Reading Abilities. In J. C. Richards andW. A. Renandya (Eds). Methodology in Language Teaching – Na Anthology of Current Practice. New York, NY:Cambridge University Press.Grabe, W. (2010). Reading in a Second Language. Cambridge University Press.Han, ZH. and D’Angelo, A. (2009). Balancing between Comprehension and Acquisition: Proposing a DualApproach. In ZhaoHong Han & Neil J. Anderson (Editors). Second Language Reading Research and Instruction– Crossing the Boundaries. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
ReferencesHarmer, J. (2007). The Practice of English Language Teaching. Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited.Nation, I.S.P. ( 2009). Teaching EFL Reading and Writing. New York, NY: Routledge.Scrivener, J. (2005). Learning Teaching. Oxford, UK: Macmillan Education.Snow, D. (2007) From Language Learner to Language Teacher – An Introduction to Teaching English as aForeign Language. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.Swift, S. (?). Reading aloud. [web log post]. Retrieved from http://eltnotebook.blogspot.com.br/2006/12/reading-aloud.html.Wilson, K. (2010, October 14). Reading aloud in class is a complete waste of time – discuss. [web log post].Retrieved from http://kenwilsonelt.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/reading-aloud-in-class-is-a-complete-waste-of-time-discuss/.
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