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Comparative essay gabriel jara


When you compare two elements and their characteristics, is easier to visualize similarities and differences, and in the case of the approaches is easier to different the different aspects of the …

When you compare two elements and their characteristics, is easier to visualize similarities and differences, and in the case of the approaches is easier to different the different aspects of the concepts involved, therefore identifying what's the role of the teacher, the student and the ability makes a way easier when it comes the time to pick up the role that the teacher would like to play or the ability that the teacher would like to emphasize, always based on the type of students, so the content can be presented in a more close and effective way.

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  • 2. This comparative essay aims to contrast the two conceptions that the authors JeremyHarmer and H. Douglas Brown have about reading skill, in which ideas such as definitions,reasons, types, processes, skills, principles, techniques and tasks will be presented on thispaper, plus further suggestions that an educator must have in consideration when teachingreading skill. However, tasks will for little explanation is given in one of them makingcomparison harder, besides the content is found before the lesson examples. Comparingboth authors about reading will not only give teachers a very complete vision aboutworking with texts in classroom and make an effective reading from part of the students,but also a differentiation between the two vision which allows the reader to make a criticaland constructive view on how to teach a language through reading by taking inconsideration both contributions and how to apply them in real pedagogical practices. Reading, as Brown (1994) mentions, is a skill that has to be developed within theinterrelationship of all the abilities (listening, reading, writing and speaking) for the reasonthat when educators aims to work in a skill, in this case reading, there is an inevitableintegration of all of them, meaning that if students work with a text, in order to read itcomprehensively they have to work with tasks that will require different skills to interactwith the content and make the text come to live. Harmer (1998) also points out someactivities that indirectly integrates different skills such as discussions or imaginativeresponses (write or say an opinion and listen to a classmate), in addition of all the otherparallel benefits such as vocabulary knowledge, spelling and writing improvement.Therefore both authors give great importance to the development of this skill as a extremelyhelpful tool to acquire a language (Harmer, 1998).
  • 3. Nevertheless, Brown (1994) makes a deeper analysis of this skill by mentioning thecontext in which second language reading pedagogy was developed and the processes thatwere studied as a way of approaching the reading, taking for instance bottom-up and top-down processing, but interestingly enough according to the studies made in the area ofteaching methodology, the use of both process of reading can lead to what is calledinteractive reading, in which educators might use both processes by switching betweenthem according to the task they are working on with the students. Now, Harmer (1998)explains two different terms that in a way can be related to the bottom-up and top-downprocesses, extensive reading (also mentioned by Brown, pg. 301) and intensive reading(even though these concepts were mentioned in the context of types of reading). Bottom-upis focused on the smallest features of the text such as words being also the case of intensivereading wherein the attention lies in the construction of reading texts or particular uses ofgrammar and vocabulary, which could also be related to the formal schemata in whichattention is paid to the discourse structure (Brown, 1994 pg. 300). On the other handextensive reading attempts to give to students long texts (it could appeal to students’personal likes) in which similarities can be found in top-down process since tries toapproach to the reading text through students’ personal knowledge or experience, alsopresented as the schemata theory (Brown, 1994). However, the relationship among theseconcepts might not be equal since two of them are processes and the last two are types ofreading, therefore it would be more accurate to state that the processes (bottom-up and top-down) can be used according to the types of texts that Harmer (1998) has given, whetherthe process respond to the types of text purpose.
  • 4. Both authors present skills that reading activities should improve or develop,nonetheless the numbers of skills presented by the authors differ in number. Harmer (1998)presents in a very general view three main reading skills such as scan, skim and readingfor detailed comprehension, whereas Brown (1994) presents a list of “microskills forreading comprehension” within the context of reading strategies which is more extendedand goes from the distinction of different words in the reading to the recognition of themplus the development of strategies in which scanning and skimming are presented. Browngives a more detailed list of strategies in which adds plenty of them such as silent reading,semantic maps, guessing etc. Principles for a better reading are given by the authors, so in order to make it easierto appreciate both contributions similar principles will be presented first and differentprinciples (not necessarily opposing principles) will be presented in second place. Firstlyboth authors give a lot of importance to the engagement or motivation of the reading text,Harmer (1998) emphasizes the concept of joyful reading in which many elements have tobe integrated to this principle such as developing the reading for pleasure, make the readingmeaningful, appeal to students’ interests and make a sequence of lessons related to a topicso students do not feel lost about reading a topic and then moving on something else.Brown (1994) also appeal to students interests and also explains that reading should followthe goal of developing this skills which to read events of real life so students can use it intheir everyday life. In a similar way what Harmer (1998) expresses in its third principleabout encouraging students to respond to a content of a text is partially related to Brown’smotivation principle, because it encourages students to respond to the message of the text,the content with their personal point of view, which can clearly help to create a meaningful
  • 5. reading and an effective comprehension of the text, beside of all the grammatical aspectsthat they can improve through reading. Secondly, Brown (1994) describes that educatorsshould balance the authenticity and readability of texts, meaning that texts should be chosenregarding their authenticity (topic located in the real world) and readability (adapting themaccording the text to their level without missing the main features of the text but keeping alittle bit of challenge among the vocabulary, expressions etc). This has been pointed out byHarmer (1998) but in a different organization contextualized in the reading levels, whereinthe possibility of simplifying text could happen depending on the level of students and thattexts should be authentic (texts intended for any competent user of the language). Finally, among other aspects that both Brown and Harmer have pointed out in theirprinciples we can find; in first place predictions, matching the task with the topic(Harmer, 1998) and the use of reading strategies (presented by both authors), includebottom-up and top-down techniques, subdivide techniques into before, while and afterreading (Brown, 1994). Obviously both authors give an important contribution with theirprinciples, however Brown makes a very much deeper and extensive review of the factorsthat teachers might need when preparing and doing a reading activity. As it was mentioned before reading is a very important skill that students need todevelop, plenty of information has been presented from part of Jeremy Harmer and H.Douglas Brown. Among the main ideas it can be said that reading or any skill need fromthe other skills for it is impossible to insolate them, there are many techniques or strategiesthat educators can use to make reading texts more interesting, real, meaningful. Readingtexts can be simplified for students according to their level, however both authors advise to
  • 6. be careful not to lose the meaning of the text and also to keep in mind to preserve somestructure in order to give to students challenging texts. Learning how to teach Englishthrough reading is a useful tool that must be put in practice always, for it can enhancestudents’ vocabulary, grammar and even culture.
  • 7. Bibliography • Brown, H (1994) Teaching by Principles: An interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy, Longman, pg. 298-333. • Harmer, J (1998) How to Teach English An introduction to practice of English language teaching, Longman, pg. 68-78