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.