Teaching reading comprehension

The importance of teaching reading:

Teaching reading in the English language course should include the following set of learning goals:

1- enable students to read a wide range of texts in English.

2- develop awareness of the structures of the written English texts.

3- develop the ability of criticizing the content of texts.

4- practice different types of reading according to the purpose of reading.

5- exposing students to different types of texts to build solid knowledge of the language and to facilitate reading in the future.

Four types of reading:

1- Skimming: reading for the gist or the main idea of the text.

2- Scanning: reading to find specific information.

3- Extensive reading: reading for pleasure and general understanding.

4- Intensive reading: reading for getting the details.

A good reader:

Reading research shows that a good reader should:

1- be able to read extensively as well as intensively.

2- integrate information in the text with existing knowledge.

3- be able to use the two models of reading in processing a text.

4- be able to skim or scan a text depending on what he reads and the purpose of reading.

5- read for a purpose. His reading serves a function.

Why a person reads? A person may read in order to:

1- gain information.

2- verify existing knowledge.

3- criticize the writer’s ideas or the writing style.

4- enjoy oneself.

5- get specific information.

Three models of reading:

1- A bottom-up model: it emphasizes part-to-whole processing of a text. According to this model the readers should:

* identify sounds.

* recognize letters.

* link sounds.

* combine letters to recognize spelling patterns.

* link spelling patterns to recognize words.

Then proceed to sentence, paragraph and text-level processing.

2- A top-down model: it suggests that processing of a text begins in the mind of the reader by driving the meaning. According to this model the readers should:

* comprehend the text even though they don’t recognize each word.

* read primarily for meaning rather than mastery of letters, letter/sound relationships or words.

* use the whole meaning and the grammatical cues to identify unrecognized words.

* use meaning activities rather than a series of word recognition skills.

* read sentences, paragraphs and whole texts.

* gain the most amount of information through reading.

3- An interactive model: this model emphasizes the interaction of bottom-up and top-down process simultaneously through the reading process.

Three stages for teaching reading comprehension:

1- Stage One: Before reading ( pre-reading ):

* establish a purpose for reading ( e.g. answer a pre-question )

* activate prior knowledge.

* present new concepts and key vocabulary.

* ask students what information they predict to be included in the text.

* preview the text.

2- Stage Two: During reading:

* students read, comprehend, clarify,  visualize and build connections.

* students integrate the knowledge and information they bring to the text with new information in the text.

* pay attention to the structure of the text.

* read to achieve the purpose for reading.

* think about answers for certain questions.

* determine the meaning of unfamiliar words and concepts.

3- Stage Three: After reading ( post reading ):

* students expand prior knowledge, build connections and deepen understanding.

* students show their understanding of what they have read by answering some comprehension questions.

* evaluate the value and quality of the text.

* respond to the text by discussing its main ideas.

A helpful guide for types of questions to be asked before and after reading:

Bloom’s Taxonomy: reading activities and questions should take into account the six-level hierarchy of skills that Bloom suggested in his taxonomy. They are as follows:

1- Knowledge: includes recall or recognition of information.

2- Comprehension: includes explain, describe or rephrase the text.

3- Application: apply the information learned in the text.

4- Analysis: make inferences or derive generalizations.

5- Synthesis: combine several ideas.

6- Evaluation: judge the value or importance of the text.

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