What is Pedagogy?
Pedagogy is the art (and science) of teaching. It is important to
understand how learning occurs. A teacher cannot just stand at
the front of a classroom relaying their knowledge expecting
pupils to listen, understand and leave the lesson filled with
knowledge. Pupils need to construct their own understanding
with teachers using various teaching methods to engage pupils
to enable pupils to access the very best learning in order to
shape their own intellectual journey.
A number of linguistic researchers see children as developing
and learning in different ways and teachers need to vary their
teaching models to ensure an inclusive learning environment.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ in teaching and by varying teaching
approaches all students will have improved understanding and
Teachers needs to bear in mind the community the pupils come
from, how they learn – is it cognitive or kinaesthetic? What
works for one child, may not work for another. What works in
one school, may be the wrong approach in another.
Pedagogy in English
The book entitled ‘Teaching Reading in Secondary Schools’ by
Geoff Dean looks at current practices of teaching reading but
also the problems associated with them. Just asking a pupil to
read a text and then carry out a few exercises relating to that
text, does not qualify as teaching reading. After the first
edition of this book, Dean looked again at comments made by
professionals and revisited certain elements of his study. One
thing he did not look at was teaching children to read for
enjoyment, something Ronald Carter felt was lacking in our
schools. What Dean discovered that children did not enjoy
‘reading’ lessons in school, but they were enjoying reading
outside of school, especially books they could choose in order
to read for pleasure. Dean also discovered that very few
secondary schools these days actually taught pupils ‘how to
read.’ Pupils need to decode the letters in order to read a text,
understand the text, look at the language nuances and how they
may change the flow of a story, be able to make inferences
about the text and explain what the author wants the reader
Skimming is one of the tools you can use to read more in less time.
Skimming refers to looking only for the general or main ideas, and
works best with non-fiction (or factual) material. With skimming, your
overall understanding is reduced because you don’t read everything. You
read only what is important to your purpose. Skimming takes place while
reading and allows you to look for details in addition to the main ideas.
How to skim? Pupils need to be taught how to skim effectively.
However, for pupils to skim effectively, they have to know the
structure of how you don’t read everything. They need to be taught
that what they read is more important than what they leave out. So
they need to be taught what material to read and what material to
Scanning is another useful tool for speeding up your reading. Unlike
skimming, when scanning, you look only for a specific fact or piece of
information without reading everything. You scan when you look for your
favourite show listed in the TV guide, for your friend’s phone number in a
telephone book, and for the football results in the newspaper. For pupils to
scan successfully they need to understand how the material is structured
as well as understand what they read so they can locate the specific
information they need. Scanning also allows pupils to find details and other
information in a hurry.
How to scan. Because pupils already scan many different types of material
in their daily life, learning more details about scanning will be easy.
Teachers need to establishing the purpose, show pupils how to locate
appropriate material, and then teach them to understand how the
information is structured before they can start scanning.
When asking pupils to summarize a piece of text, these two methods need
to be taught first before pupils can go on to successfully complete the task.
There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language, and learning
to group them together in ways that are logical and meaningful is key to
effective communication. As teachers, we need tp be able to teach pupils how
to substitute words rather than using the same words or phrases too much.
For this reason, a teacher needs to pay attention to substitution. All pupils use
this technique without even realizing it, but learning how it is done in reading
and writing can make your understanding and communication tighter, clearer,
and more effective.
What is Substitution?
In general, substitution is the process of swapping one thing out for another.
In relation to the English language, the definition of substitution is a bit more
specific, as it refers to the process of specifically swapping a word or phrase
with a different word or phrase. It is a method of cohesion, meaning it is a way
to guide readers or listeners and show how the parts of your sentence relate
to each other using different transitional expressions (cohesion cues). As an
example, you might say, "I broke the mirror, so now I have to buy another one"
instead of "I broke the mirror, so now I have to buy another mirror." In this
example, the word "one" is the substitution.
In a text, this can cause confusion for pupils who sometimes cannot see the
subject and the verb in one sentence because they are too far away from one
another. Substitution in simple sentences is much easier to recognise and
understand, however in complex or compound sentences, pupils find it hard to
locate the subject and the verb and therefore lose the gist of the text.
What is the Purpose
The main reason to use this technique in English is to eliminate repetitions.
Most people find that when words or phrases are quickly repeated, it is
distracting. They focus on the fact they have just seen the word or phrase,
and for a moment, they are pulled away from the flow and meaning of the text
or speech. This disruption of attention is undesirable, because writers and
speakers generally want to immerse their readers and listeners in a memorable
experience with an effective message. Substitution also provides variety in
your work, demonstrating your ability to say things in more than one way.
For pupils we want them to move away from repetition. By teaching pupils how
to read and recognise substitution, they will not only understand the text and
keep focussed, but they will then start seeing the benefit in using it in their
Dean, Geoff (2000) Teaching Reading in Secondary Schools,
Harrison, Colin, (2004) Understanding Reading Development,
Johnston, Rhona and Watson, Jayne (2007) Teaching Synthetic
Phonics, Learning Matters
Lunzer, Eric and Gardner, Keith, ( 1981) The Effective Use of
Montgomery, A., Durant, A., Fabb, N., Furniss, T. and Mills, S.
(2000) Ways of Reading: 2nd Edition, Routledge
Moore, Maggie and Wade, Barrie, (1995), Supporting Readers,
Reading [Link to E-journal] (Journal of the United Kingdom
Reading Association: UKRA)
Crystal, D., (1998), The English Language, Penguin