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STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPING READING SKILLS

As a final test for Academic Writing

Introduction

The acquisition of reading skill in a second or foreign language is a priority for millions of learners around the world, and there is a growing demand for both effective reading courses as well as high-quality second language reading materials. Those involved in teaching reading or in teacher education for language teachers will therefore welcome this comprehensive introduction to the teaching of the second language reading. In it the authors demonstrate that sound second language reading pedagogy draws on a variety of sources, including psycholinguistic theories of the nature of second language reading, information about the strategies employed by effective second language readers, and the accumulated knowledge and wisdom acquired from the study of effective teaching practices.

It goes without saying, reading skill has several strategies to achieve the purpose of reading.  As Nuttal (2005) states that “the aims of reading program are to enable students to enjoy (or at least feel comfortable with) reading in the foreign language, and to read without help unfamiliar texts, at appropriate speed, silently and with adequate understanding.” The students are able to enjoy reading some texts if they understood well, so it needs more comprehension, as the comprehension means the capability to give details about grammar and structure of a page of text, it also means the ability to sum up the thesis and argument of a whole book in a few sentences (Ann and Lee, 1997). However, of late researchers have come up with a great deal of information about strategies that are applicable to reading. This paper reviews two authors’ strategies, they are Luis (2007) and , Pinnel, Su and Foutas (1996). And also pints point which one of these strategies might be the most appropriate for teaching reading as one of language skills today.

WHAT IS READING?

As we know, teachers have some methods to teach English as second language, to make the students are able to speak fluently and write well, and also comprehend the text. Those are named by “language skills” (listening, reading, speaking and writing).  Reading is a part of language skills. Brynes (1998, 2) states: ”Reading is an interactive process that goes on between the reader and the text, resulting in comprehension. The text presents letters, sentences, and paragraphs that encode the meaning.”

According to Brynes’ (1998, 2) definition, reading can be either language skill or process which determines the reader to use knowledge, skills and strategies. Reader knowledge, skills and strategies include:

  1. Linguistic competence as the ability to recognize the elements of the writing system; understanding of vocabulary: comprehension of how words are structured into sentences.
  2. Discourse competence it is the knowledge of discourse markers and how they fix parts of the text to one another.
  3. Sociolinguistic competence as knowledge about different type of texts and their usual structure and content.
  4. Strategic competence it is the ability to use top down strategies as well as knowledge of the language (Bryners 1998, 2).

Moreover, reading and the type of text have the purpose to determine the specific knowledge, skills and strategies that the reader need to apply to achieve reading comprehension. Because reading comprehension is more than decoding, it results when the reader knows which skill and strategies are suitable for the type of text, and understands how to relate them to complete the reading purpose (Bryners 1998, 2).

A SKILL AND A STRATEGY

Skill and strategy both are sounded similar, but in fact, they have different usage and function especially for teachers and students. As Robb (1996, 7) states that “skill has described a set of helpful tools that students practiced in order to improve reading. (They include, but are not limited to: vocabulary in context, sequencing, making inferences, coping with unfamiliar words, and many more).”

Robb (1996, 7) also states that the understanding of skills and strategies are shades of the same thing, but representing different stages of development. A skill becomes a strategy when the learners can use it independently. When she can reflect on and understand how it works and then apply it to new reading materials when it occurs, the student has become a strategic reader.

Here are the other differences between skill and strategy which was taken from Sarasota (2001, 2).

SKILLS STRATEGIES
Instructor decides what learner

Needs

Learner’s need are anticipated by

instructor

Skills are often taught in predetermined sequence Self-direction/need is determined by learner
Skills are often practiced in

Isolation

Strategies are taught in a meaningful

context

The emphasis is often on practice

for practice’s sake only

Strategies are student-centered rather than teacher-directed
An automatic response is usually

Expected

Activities are purposeful, interactive, and independent
Applications to meaningful

Contexts may not occur

Continual observation is practiced for

Evaluation of what is needed

Table 3.1: Sarasota, Difference between strategy and skill (2001, 2)

Based on those authors’ opinion about difference between skill and strategy, it may be concluded, that teaching and learning reading in ESL need both skill and strategy, to assist reading process.

Before going on to the strategies, we should know why are the strategies used and when are they used? Both are the main question for teacher to teach reading in ESL classroom. Sarasota (2001, 1) states:

We use strategies for the following reasons:

  1. Reading makes more sense for struggling readers when strategies are used
  2. Good readers use strategies naturally
  3. The use of strategies aides struggling readers to become proficient
  4. Strategies make reading more fun

While people are wondering when are the strategies used? It is answered by Sarasota’s (2001, 1) statement:

Strategies are used to assist students in

  1. Predicting outcomes in a reading passage
  2. Summarizing material which has been read, both fictional and informational
  3. Questioning material being read
  4. Determining important ideas while reading
  5. Monitoring their reading
  6. Searching for clues
  7. Reading to confirm
  8. Reading a head or back for clues
  9. Self-correcting

READING STRATEGIES

Good reading strategies help the student to read in very efficient way. By using those strategies, the student aim to get the maximum benefit from the reading with the minimum effort. Many researches discuss about the reading strategy. This paper should review the strategies which are applied by Luis (2007) and , Pinnel, Su and Foutas (1996).

Luis states that there are six strategies that should be done for teaching reading in ESL classroom. They are:

  1. Knowing what you want to know.

You have to know why you are reading the text. What do you want to know after reading it? Are you reading with purpose or just pleasure?

If you know this, you can examine the text to see whether it is going to move you towards this goal.

A simple way of doing this is to look at the introduction and the chapter headings. The introduction should let you know at whom the book is targeted, and what is seeks to achieve. Chapter headings will give you an overall view of the structure of the subject.

Ask yourself whether the book meets your need. Ask yourself if it assumes too much or too little knowledge. If the book isn’t deal, would it be better to find a better one?

  1. Knowing how deeply to study the material

Where you only need the shallowest knowledge of the subject, you can skim material. Here you read only chapter headings, introductions and summaries.

If you need a moderate level of information on a subject, then you can scan the text. Here you read the introductions and summaries in detail. You may then speed read the contents of the chapters, picking out and understanding key words and concepts. At this level of looking at the document it is worth paying attention to diagrams and graphs.

Only when you need detailed knowledge of a subject is it worth studying the text. Here it is the best to skim the material first to get an overview of the subject. This gives you an understanding of its structure, into which you can fit the detail gained from a full, receptive reading of the material.

  1. Active Reading

Where you are reading a document in detail, it often helps it you highlight, underline and annotate it as you go on. This emphasizes in your mind, and helps you to review important points later. Doing this also helps to keep your mind focused on the material and stops it wandering.

This is obviously only something to do if you own the document. If you own the book and find that active reading helps, then it may be worth photocopying information in more expensive texts. You can read and mark the photocopies. If you are worried about destroying the material, ask yourself how much your investment of time is worth. If the benefit you get by active reading reasonably exceeds the value of the book, then the book is disposable.

  1. How to study different sorts of material

There are different places and different ways to hold the different sorts of information. They also have different depth and breadth of coverage. By understanding the layout of material you are reading, you can extract useful information much more efficiently.

Reading Magazines and Newspapers.

These tend to give a very fragmented coverage of an area. They will typically only concentrate on the most interesting and glamorous parts of a topic – this helps them to sell copies. They will often ignore less interesting information that may be essential to full understanding of a subject. Typically areas of useful information are padded out with large amounts of irrelevant waffle or with advertising.

The most effective way of getting information from magazines is to scan the content tables or indexes and turn directly to interesting articles. If you an article useful then cut it out and file it in a folder specifically covering that sort of information. In this way you will build up sets of related articles that may begin to explain the subject.

Newspapers tend to be arranged in sections. If you read a paper often, you can learn quickly which section is useful and which ones you can skip altogether.

Reading Individual Article.

Articles within newspapers and magazines tend to be in three main types:

4.1. News Articles:

Here the most important information is presented first, with information being less and less useful as the article progresses. News articles are designed to explain the key points first, and then flesh them out with detail.

4.2. Opinion Articles:

Opinion articles present a point of view. Here the most important information is contained in the introduction and the summary, with the middle of the article containing supporting arguments.

4.3. Features Articles

These are written to provide entertainment or background on a subject. Typically the most important information is in the body of the text.

If you know what you want from an article, and recognize it type, you can extract information from it quickly and efficiently.

  1. Reading ‘Whole Subject’ Document

When you are reading an important document, it is easy to accept the writer’s structure of thought. This can mean that you may not notice that important information has been omitted or that irrelevant detail has been included. A good way of recognizing this is to compile your own table of contents before you open the document. You can then use this table of contents to read the document in the order that you want. You will be able to spot omissions quickly.

  1. Using glossaries with technical documents

If you are reading large amounts of difficult technical material, it may be useful to photocopy or compile a glossary. Keep this beside you as you read. It will probably also be useful to note down the key concepts in your own words, and refer to them when necessary.

Those strategies may be useful for student to learn more about reading, besides, Pinnel, Su, and fountas (1996, 22-23) state that there are four strategies to achieve reading skill in ELT, they are: Reading aloud, Shared Reading, Guided Reading and Independent Reading.

Here are some information should be given in detail to make students understand more.

  1. 1. Reading Aloud.

Here, the teacher or tutor reads a text loud to students. This allows tutors to model reading, engage students in a text that may be too difficult for them to read on their own, and let students sit back and enjoy the story.

  1. 2. Shared Reading.

In Shared Reading, tutors and students read together, thus allowing student to actively participate and support one another in the process. Tutors point to text as they read to build word recognition. And tutors also read slowly to build a sense of story.

  1. 3. Guided Reading.

Guided reading prepares tutees with strategies that allow for more independent reading. In guided reading, tutors create purposeful lessons that extend beyond the story. These lessons challenge tutees in a number of areas: vocabulary building, character comparisons, story structure comparisons, relating text to personal experience, and so on. The goal is to provide tutees with strategies that they can repeat independently.

  1. 4. Independent reading.

Even those who support transactional definitions of literacy typically also engage students in independent reading since successful independent reading strategies will help them succeed in school. Students read by themselves or with partners, choose their own texts, and employ strategies that they have learned through other reading activities.

CONCLUSION

As one of the language skills, reading has a main role to achieve language competency. It has changed for many periods about its strategies, as many researchers study the best strategies to be used in reading activities. According to Luis (2007, 3), reading activities have different strategies and techniques that students can use to read more effectively. These are: 1). Knowing the needs to know, and reading appropriately, 2).Knowing how deeply to read the document; skimming, scanning or studying, 3). Using active reading techniques to pick out key points and keep your mind focused on the material, 4). Using the table of contents for reading magazines and newspaper, and clipping useful articles, 5). Understanding how to extract information from different article types, 6). Creating table of content for reviewing material, and 7). Using indexes of table contents, and using the glossaries to help the students to assimilate technical information. Those strategies can be adopted by students to achieve the purposes of reading comprehension if they study this subject themselves. While the teacher cannot use these strategies because they have some disadvantages. First, only strong student can apply those strategies while the weak one cannot use those strategies because of lack of vocabularies. It is suggested for the students who want to apply those strategies to enrich their vocabularies then they can apply those strategies in English learning. Second, there is no interactivity using those strategies, because they are applied individually as the teacher cannot do his function as an instructor for learning English. Besides the advantage of these strategies is the full achievement of students’ comprehension about their reading.

The other strategies that should be applied are written by Pinnel, Su and Fountas (1996,22-23), Those are:1). Reading aloud, 2). Shared reading, 3). Guided reading, and 4). Independent reading. Applying those strategies have some advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of applying these strategies are building up the students’ desire to read more, and also these strategies make an interactive classroom, because the students can hear the teacher’s voice while he reads loud, then they can run to the good pronunciations. But these strategies also have disadvantages, it is a difficulty to achieve student’s reading comprehension because the students are focused to read the text well without knowing their needs and reading appropriately.

However, they still a lot of strategies to be applied to achieve the purpose of reading comprehension. The strategies as reviewed above are only a small part of the strategies which were found by many authors. Although they have some advantages and disadvantages, but they should be applied on students’ need and classroom condition.

REFERENCES

Aebersold,  Jo Ann and Fied, Mary Lee. 1997. From reader to reading: Issues and strategies for second language classrooms. Ed. Jack. C. Richard. Melbourne. Cambidge University.

Nuttall, Christine. 2005. Teaching reading skills as a foreign language. Thailand. Mc Milan Publisher.

Robb, Laura. 1996. Reading strategies that work: Teaching your students to become better readers. New York. Scholastic.

Luis, Mandi. J. 2005. Reading strategies: reading efficiently by reading intelligently. http://www.mindtool.com/rdstratg.html (accessed February 4, 2010).

__________. (2007). Teaching reading: Strategies for developing reading skills. http://www.nclrc.org/essentials/reading/stratread.htm (accessed February 4, 2010).

Sarasota. 2001. Difference between strategy and skill. http://www.sarasota.k12.fl.us/sarasota/strattactisc.html#Understandind%the%20Difference%20Between (accessed February, 3, 2010).

Pinnell.  Su, Gay. and Fountas, Irece C. 1996. Guided reading: Good first teaching for all children. New York. Heinemann Publishing.

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February 18, 2010 - Posted by | Academic Writing Assignment

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