How To Teach Reading Essay

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  • 1. How To Teach Reading
    Valentina Gallegos Nez / Diego Ulloa Iglesias / Daniela Valenzuela Rodrguez
    Roxana Correa
    May 23
    Has been reading recognized as an important part of understanding a language? Is it best developed when we incorporate the others third skills; speaking, listening and writing? Well, these are some of millions of questions that experts have tried to solve in order to find out what the main aim of reading is and what strategies for a proper comprehension of a particular text are.
    Reading a particular text does not guarantee understanding it; it requires a process where a reader might extract information from a particular text as efficiently as possible. For instance, when walking in the street and seeing an advertisement for a job or a piece of news of special interest in a magazine you will not apply the same strategies when reading each of them. In case a reader sees an advertisement for a job s/he will probably reject the information that is not relevant and focus just on what s/he is looking for. If that same reader finds a piece of news then s/he will probably need more comprehension of it; it would be not enough just to get the central idea of the text. Our reading purposes vary all the time or are simply different as others; due to this it is necessary to know which strategy a reader should use properly depending on the purpose.
    It is well-known that people who have developed effectively their reading skills often use a wide variety of strategies while reading, such as SQ3R technique, flow-charting, summarization, questioning and predicting. The ability of teachers to learn how to teach reading and the ability of students to acquire these strategies has been an issue of particular interest which will be developed deeper in the following lines according to David Nunans studies principally.
    Diego Ulloa
    Many researchers and teachers have come up with several definitions of what reading is and how should be developed within the classroom; however, most of them agree in its purpose, which is comprehension.
    According to Nunan (2003) the intersection of the text, the reader, fluency and strategies combined together define the act of reading. And since the goal of reading is comprehension, the skill will be developed best by reading silently (as the more silent you read, the better you comprehend what you are reading). Although many teachers still believe that oral reading is the best approach for teaching, reading is primarily a silent activity, so classroom approaches to teaching reading should emphasize the silent nature of this skill and avoid strategies on oral reading.
    On the other hand, Brown (2000) sustains that the reading ability will be developed best in association with writing, listening and speaking activities; thus oral or silent reading may be equally efficient. Even in those courses that may be labeled reading your goals will be best achieved by capitalizing on the interrelationship of skills, especially the reading-writing connection. (p.298)
    Since people only learn to read once, teachers must teach their students to transfer skills that they have already learned (in their first language) to the new reading context in a new language and help them to develop strategies to extract key information when reading. From this point of view, the reading skill provides three main models to develop a class; these are bottom-up, top-down and interactive models.
    The bottom-up reading model is supported by a phonic approach, here the readers must first recognize the linguistic symbols and use their linguistic knowledge to decipher the message. Within a bottom-up approach to reading, the most typical classroom focus is on what we call intensive reading.Many teachers and researchers suggest that for readers to be successful they must be able to break a word down into its smallest parts, the individual sounds, so when a reader comes to an unknown word he or she can sound out the word because of the knowledge of the individual units that make up the word.This model has provided controversial views. Goodman (1976) criticizes bottom-up models because the readers become word callers who can read the words on the page but do not understand what they have read.
    Top-down models, on the other hand, begin with the idea that comprehension resides in the reader. According to Brown (2000) The reader uses background knowledge, makes predictions, and searches the text to confirm or reject the predictions that are made. A passage can thus be understood even if all of the individual words are not understood. A meaning-based approach to reading is supportive of top-down models of reading and it is highlighted by four key features. First, it is a literature based approach; readers are exposed to a wide range of vocabulary. Second, whole language is student-centered; the focus is on the reader choosing what he or she wants to read. Third, reading is integrating with writing, and finally, emphasis is on constructing meaning. Extensive reading plays a key role in top-down approaches. This means reading many books or longer segments of texts without a focus on classroom exercises that may test comprehension skills.
    One significant contribution to reading provided by top-down has been to show the importance of background knowledge to the reading process. The mental structures which store our knowledge are called schemata, and the theory is called: schema theory. According to the theory, reading is an interactive process between what a reader already knows about a given topic or subject and what the writer writes. Nunan (1984) found that, for high school ESL readers, relevant background knowledge was a more important factor in reading comprehension than grammatical complexity.
    Recent research shows that a combination of top-down and bottom-up processing, also known as interactive reading is the most suitable approach to successful teaching.This combines elements of both bottom-up and top-down models assuming that a pattern is synthesized based on information provided simultaneously from several knowledge sources(Stanovich,1980,p35). An interactive approach to reading would include aspects of both intensive and extensive reading. So, teachers should be aware that a single classroom textbook will not meet the needs for both intensive and extensive instruction, and materials will need to be selected that engage the learners in both types of reading for the students to integrate both bottom-up and top-down processes and become better readers.
    In order to teach the students how to read properly, teachers must encourage students reading by providing them several strategies that will help them to achieve comprehension. Some of the strategies suggested by many researches, including Brown (2000) are: when teaching reading teachers have to make sure that students know their purpose in reading, explaining students about certain English orthographic rules that they may not know or understand, teaching students how to skim and/or scan trough the text explaining its main differences, teaching them compensation strategies such as guessing, analyzing, processing relationship and so on.
    Teaching reading successfully, requires not only the teacher`s knowledge and students acquisition of some proper strategies, but also teachers` commitment to design interactive reading techniques that will help students to find a purpose in reading. Taking this point into consideration, teachers must follow some principles that will help them to teach reading meaningfully. Some of the principles,suggested by Brown 2000) involves: to use techniques that are intrinsically motivating (material that is relevant to the students for their real life), to balance authenticity and readability in choosing text, including both bottom-up and top-down in meaningful interactive readings, to teach the students follow sq3r sequence if necessary, and to build in some evaluative aspect their technique by transferring, answering, condensing and modeling.
    Instruction in reading and reading practice thus become essential parts of language teaching at every level, consequently it must be efficiently taught in the classroom. From this perspective reading as a receptive skill, can also be taught in the communicative approach. The communicative approach is such an approach where comprehensible input and the task-based learning could exist together. To achieve this suitable objective in reading, we have to adapt the following principles in communicative language teaching as suggested by Nunan (1988)
    The focus of every reading task should be on the performing of some operation. Teaching the learner to do something in the target language. This something is communicatively useful.
    Use of language above the sentence level, with real language in real situations and pay attention to both the part and the whole work in the context.
    The practice of forms should take place within a communicative framework.
    Mistakes are not always mistakes. Emphasis should be on fluency, in reading to strengthen students` ability to easily read and understand texts.
    What happens in the classroom must involve the learners and must be judged in terms of its effects on them.
    Valentina Gallegos
    According to what has been explained throughout this essay we can conclude that reading has been recognized as an important part of understanding a language and that it is also best developed when we incorporate the others third skills; speaking, listening and probably in more importance, as it has been stated by Brown, writing. Brown pays special attention to the writing-reading connection because both writing and reading share some characteristics, as the listening and speaking do too.
    Reading is a skill that is learned once in life; thus in order to achieve our goal of comprehension it is highly important to teach students strategies that could help them during this very important process when learning a new language; since reading on a second language does not need to be learned as a it is in our mother tongue, it becomes essential to learn strategies which must be motivating for students; due to reading is not known as the favorite part to practice by students, especially in Chilean classrooms.
    Those strategies could be related to bottom-up or top-down procedures, if it is follow a bottom- model it will focus on the single word meaning, looking for details and phonemes understanding to finally achieve the comprehension. When we want to use a top-down model, we are aiming the opposite of the previous model, we want to our students to get a comprehension by they own, using they background knowledge to make predictions even when they not know every single word of the text.
    As both models are in opposite sides which do not necessary mean that one is better than the other the fact of combining the two of them is not impossible. That is why when looking for a successful way of teach reading we came to the conclusion that thebest choice is the wide accepted approach interactive reading which involve both, bottom-up and top- down processing, by using both types of activities the reading learning process will be successful students will become better readers.
    Students will use on one hand, intensive reading which help them in the development of a better comprehension of details and exact meaning of a task during their class time and on the other hand students will developed the extensive reading which involve reading for a more general meaning of text that are basically of high interest for students; in addition to the opportunity of put into practice the abilities learn in class during the intensive reading period.
    Another key point to take into account when we teach reading is that there must be always a purpose, as in the communicative approach the goal of instruction is communicative competence, the reading will contain useful information easy to relate from students and that will led them a sense of success.
    Lastly the most important factors that we must be aware of when teaching reading in a second language are, the purpose of reading, which must be clear enough to give students confidence in the task they will be working on; in addition to teach strategies concerned to what the task is going to be, another key element that help students is the use of these techniques in the appropriate stage; pre, while or post reading. By sequencing the activities students can activate their previous knowledge in order to prepare them for the next step in the lesson to finally enclose the process and clarify what was done.
    Reading is an important means within the acquisition of a second language and as both authors, Brown and Nunan, state the goal we should always make our students to achieve is comprehension.
    Daniela Valenzuela
    Brown, D. (2000). Teaching by Principles and Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy.
    White Plains, NY: Pearson Education, Print.
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    Nunan, D. (2003). Practical English Language Teaching. NY: McGraw-Hill/Contemporary,
    Nunan, D. (1988). The Learner-centered Curriculum. Cambridge: Cambridge University
    Stanovich, K. (1980). Towards An Interactive-compensatory Model of Individual Differences
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