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How to Teach Reading Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. - Joseph Addison Many books, papers and dissertations have been written about various types of reading, as well as methods of teaching reading. We will not go into details but will briefly revise basic types of reading.
Education ... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. - George Macauley Trevelyan
In the academic environment we distinguish two basic types of reading, intensive and extensive. Let us briefly look at them separately.
What is Intensive Reading Intensive reading is reading carefully for an exact understanding of text. In practical life, acquired intensive reading skills are used for comprehension of contracts, business letters, memorandums, application forms and legal documents. Intensive reading courses equip students with basic reading strategies to enable them to achieve fluency and competence in the areas of vocabulary recognition and to develop critical thinking skills. The objectives of intensive reading courses are usually achieved through the following activities: 1. Using a variety of reading strategies for comprehension of English texts. 2. Identifying connections among ideas that involve examples, comparison/contrast, cause and effect. 3. Interacting with a variety of texts for different purposes. 4. Deducing meaning from context. 5. Identifying synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, multiple meanings of words. 6. Distinguishing fact from fiction. 7. Using inference. 8. Understanding the author’s purpose. 9. Distinguishing a variety of text types and genres. 10. Distinguishing facts from opinions. 11. Guessing and predicting the content of a text. 12. Skimming - quickly looking through a text to get an idea of what the text is about. 13. Scanning - locating specific information in a text, also in charts, diagrams, timetables, etc. 14. Developing dictionary usage skills. 15. Framing and answering questions.
There are many textbooks written to help ESL students improve their intensive reading skills and quite recently excellent software has been designed for this purpose. Also, there are many interesting supplementary materials. You will find usefulonline reading comprehension exercises for your students at various levels.
What is Extensive Reading
Extensive reading is reading a lot for pleasure at a fairly easy level with emphasis on general understanding so that whatever is read is comprehended without the use of a dictionary. Extensive reading courses increase language proficiency, especially reading level and speed.
The Basic Characteristics of Extensive Reading The following are the basic characteristics of extensive reading: 1. Students read as much as possible, usually out of the classroom. 2. The purposes of reading are usually related to pleasure and interest. 3. Students decide on what to read and have the liberty to discontinue reading if the material is not interesting. 4. Many materials on a wide range of topics are available. 5. Reading is outside class, individual, silent, at the student's own pace, conducted when and where the student chooses. 6. Students can choose abridged books; therefore, reading materials are within the linguistic competence of the students. 7. Dictionaries are hardly ever used while reading because the constant stopping to look up words and phrases makes fluent reading difficult and frustrating. 8. Reading speed is usually fast as students read the materials they find easily understandable and interesting; they become involved in reading. 9. Teachers guide and motivate their students: they explain the objectives and methodology and keep track of what each student reads. 10. There are usually few or no follow-up activities after reading.
Although, some teachers prepare questions for discussions. Extensive reading courses encourage students to take charge of their own reading development and produce independent readers who value reading as a life-long pursuit. The courses develop the habit of reading not just for information or to perform certain tasks but also for pleasure. It is very important to design a good extensive reading course outline (also called teaching and assessment plan) in order to make the whole course successful. See a sample outline here. The objectives of extensive reading courses are usually achieved through the following activities: 1. Self-selection of extensive reading of texts. 2. Using various strategies for comprehension and vocabulary recognition. 3. Maintaining a log with details of reading accomplished each week. 4. Summarizing weekly reading. 5. Establishing personally relevant reading goals. 6. Interacting with a variety of texts for different purposes. 7. Understanding author’s purpose. 8. Guessing and predicting content. 9. Comparing a variety of question types and narrations. While intensive reading skills are basically developed in class, extensive reading skills are basically developed outside the classroom. Extensive reading students usually select fiction, science fiction, newspapers, or whatever they are interested in. It is an ESL teacher’s job to help the students to select suitable books depending on their level. There are many original and abridged books for ESL students of different levels. Schools can order books via the Internet and in this way they can save a considerable amount of money.
How to Start an Extensive Reading Course The process of starting an extensive reading course can be broken into the following three basic areas of preparation: 1. Setting up an extensive reading library. 2. Teaching preparation. 3.Assessment. 1.Setting up the library involves ordering and organizing the books. Support for the Extensive Reading library may come from various sources: 1. The school. 2. Students buy their books and exchange with each other. 3. Students are charged a book fee. 4. Teachers pool their research funding. 5. Lottery – the funds are used for purchasing Extensive Reading books. 6. Fundraising. 7. Sponsorship from local private companies and public organisations.We would strongly recommend buying fiction (novels) for extensive reading. The books should be organized by levels in the library and should be easily found by the students. 2.Teaching preparation refers to steps that teachers will make to learn about extensive reading and to implement extensive reading in the classroom. One of the most important objectives of an extensive reading course is that the students enjoy reading. Therefore, special attention should be paid to student motivation. The teacher should design an outline of the Extensive Reading course (at least a week before the course starts) for the whole semester. The outline should include the following components: clear objectives, outcomes, week-by-week activities, basic requirements and the grading system. You will find a sample extensive reading outline if you click HERE. 3.Assessment basically includes the amount that a student has read. This amount should be specified in the course outline.
Computer Assisted Reading Instruction The level of popularity of computer based education may vary depending on a number of factors but hardly any qualified teacher would dispute the fact that computers have won a permanent position in most institutions worldwide, especially in the field of language teaching. Research studies indicate that Computer Based Learning - CBL (also: Computer Assisted Language Learning, or CALL) is effective for the development of a wide variety of language skills. The most common concerns of ESL teachers now have to do with the effectiveness of computer based education and with the suitability of the numerous possible roles computers can play in the teaching of English as a Second / Foreign language. Language learning software for self-study purposesis always available.
How to Integrate Computers into Teaching Reading Comprehension Here are a few helpful tips ESL students should have opportunities to perform the following activities: 1. Study whole, meaningful texts - large chunks of related text rather than bits and pieces of unrelated language fragments allow students to learn the language naturally and with a feeling. 2. Perform word recognition activities that stress the use of word meanings in conjunction with phonics and word structure. 3. Apply the skills being taught in meaningful and practical way; activities that reject the learner a chance to make use of the skills being acquired are only assessment tools and do little to advance the student's development. 4. Use materials within the range of the students’ conceptual development; the tasks should be challenging but not frustrating. 5. Discuss the purpose of the computer task or program as well as its nature; learners should be aware not only of what they are supposed to do but also of why doing it is important (foster active involvement and stimulate thinking). 6. Use activities that build in opportunities for students to make choices and test predictions help them learn to think and act on their own rather than merely react to someone else's thinking. 7. Monitor their own learning; tasks that offer students opportunities to self-check and correct their own errors support the development of independent learners. 8. Encounter a wide variety of text structures; a variety of narrative and expository structures should be provided. In this way computer instruction in reading will support and extend students' knowledge of text structures. 9. Experiment with text in creative ways to suit various purposes; give a chance for the students to reorganize information on the computer and apply information to specific genres. 10. Apply their reading strategies to all areas of the curriculum; make use of content from a wide range of subject areas such as programs related to science, social studies, and math require the use of strategies for reading comprehension. 11. Apply the computer in conjunction with other modes of instruction; the computer should not operate as a separate and isolated means of learning; its use should be integrated with that of books and other learning materials and tools. 12. Link reading and writing - create texts for sharing with others; in this way, revision and proofreading strategies will involve reading and writing skills.
13. Newspapers are a great way to practice your students’ extensive reading skills and enrich their vocabulary. Newspapers have the so-called 'real world English' (and the English that is used today) which is very different from classroom English.
Tips for Extensive Reading Students - Tell your Students 1. At first it may seem difficult; just keep going. Try audio books. 2. Look at the different parts of the text/chapter/newspaper; some sections will be easier than others. 3. Keep your dictionary on your desk and use it, also, use online dictionary or computer. 4. A vocabulary notepad will help to remember new words faster and easier.
Tips for Extensive Reading Teachers
1. If you have some free time, passion and drive, you can create extensive reading materials for your students. Here is a step-by-step process you need to follow if you want to abridge texts for your students. If you know your students' level, you can prepare excellent reading materials for your students. To go through a step-by-step process, click HERE...
Here is a step-by-step process you need to follow if you want to abridge texts for your extensive reading program, i.e. to make reading for learners of English as a second language easier. It can also be used for other purposes, such as paraphrasing and reducing or condensing a written text. To start, click HERE...
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