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Phonic reading (bottom-up) A process of decoding linguistic symbols (Cambourne cited in Nunan, 1991: 63-5) Print Every Letter Discriminated Phonemes & Graphemes Matched Pronunciation Blending MEANING
Basically a process of decoding a series of written symbols into their aural equivalents. (also known as serial processing). Seems reasonable (though only 26 written symbols in English to represent over 40 aural symbols – but a degree of consistency does exist)
Main assumption: reader possesses an oral vocabulary extensive enough for decoding to take place, which is not true with most SL learners, even with some 1 st language readers (decode, yes. But understand, no)
Research into human memory (Kolers & Katzmann, 1966): under PR model, 60 words per minute whereas in fact an average reader can read & comprehend 250-350 words per minute. Given the fact that human STM holds up to 7 items at a time, it’s impossible to read & understand under the phonic model .
The serial processing operations underlying this model fails to explain how one can assign a phonemic value to a grapheme without knowing the meaning of the word containing the grapheme, e.g. “ho—” and “house”, “horse”, “hot”, “hoot”. Similar problems with the present or past sound of “read” etc.
Top-down reading A process of meaning reconstruction (Cambourne cited in Nunan, 1991: 63-5) Past Experiences Language Intuitions Expectations Selective Aspects of Print Sound & Pronunciation If Necessary MEANING
A process of meaning reconstruction, hypothesis formation , “the psycholinguistic guess games” (Goodman, 1972)
Sometimes not adequate to distinguish between beginning & fluent readers (sight reading vs. serial processing, e.g. in case of ideographic/non-ideographic languages);
the process of hypothesis generation could be more time-consuming than decoding (Stanovich, 1980)
Summary (Nunan, 1991: 67)
Bottom-up reading assumes that the activation of higher level processes (e.g. the use of background knowledge) must await lower-level ones.
Top-down reading doesn’t allow lower-level decoding processes to direct higher level ones.
Schema theory & reading Schema theory suggests that the knowledge we carry around in our head is organized into interrelated patterns. These are constructed from our previous experience of the experiential world and guide us as we make sense of new experiences. They also enable us to make predictions about what we might expect to experience in a given context. ( Nunan 1991:68 ) Widdowson (1983) has reinterpreted schema theory from an applied linguistic perspective. He postulates two levels of language: a systemic level and a schematic level. The systemic level includes the phonological, morphological and syntactic elements of the language, while the schematic level relates to our background knowledge. ( Nunan 1991:68 )
A 15-year-old boy got up the nerve one day to try out for the school chorus, despite the potential ridicule from his classmates. His audition time made him a good 15 minutes late to the next class. His hall permit clutched nervously in hand, he nevertheless tried surreptitiously to slip into his seat, but his entrance didn’t go unnoticed.
“ And where were you?” bellowed the teacher.
Caught off guard by the sudden attention, a red-faced Harold replied meekly, “Oh, uh, er, somewhere between tenor and bass, sir.” ( Brown, 1994: 284-5 )
Different purposes in reading involve different strategies in approaching texts (top-down or bottom-up) & different reading rates. E.g., skimming generally uses top-down strategies to get at the general dimensions of a text.
Real-world reading purposes are finding their way into reading tasks in ELT.
One text may be read in a variety of styles (scanning, skimming …) to fulfill different purposes (tasks) & therefore requires a range of strategies.
The SCROL procedure ( Grant 1993 ) is an example to help students with different stages of approaching a text:
S urvey the headings : for initiating relevant schemata
C onnect : for the general organization of information in the text
R ead the text : for more intensive reading purposes
O utline : for taking in main ideas & organization
Reading large quantities of material (stories, novel etc.)
Reading consistently over time on a frequent & regular basis
Reading for general meaning, primarily for pleasure, curiosity, or professional interest
Reading longer texts during class time but also engaging in individual, independent reading at home, ideally of self-selected material
( adapted from Hedge 2000: 202 )
“ By reading what they choose and (more or less) enjoying their [extensive reading] homework, students' motivation to learn will increase, which will in turn benefit their eventual acquisition of the target language.” ( Robb & Susser 1989: 248 )
Extensive & intensive reading Extensive reading provides opportunities to practice reading strategies and develop different types of knowledge ( Adapted from Hedge 1985: 70 ) Transferring reading strategies effectively to the L2 e.g. previewing, guessing meaning from context Building schematic knowledge of various kinds e.g. sociocultural knowledge Building knowledge of the language e.g. vocabulary development Increasing awareness of textual environments e.g. how graphics are used in news articles Developing metacognitive strategies e.g. use of a dictionary, keeping a vocabulary book Increasing awareness of how texts are organized e.g. paragraph development, cohesion Elements to do with the reader Elements to do with the text Intensive Reading Lessons Programme