Oujda - Reading is a critical learning tool that should be better emphasized both inside classrooms and out. Because reading is an important prerequisite to successful learning, the government should encourage it through offering newspapers, books, magazines, as well as by providing free public Internet access. Having a more literate population will lead to a more educated and engaged citizenry.
Oujda – Reading is a critical learning tool that should be better emphasized both inside classrooms and out. Because reading is an important prerequisite to successful learning, the government should encourage it through offering newspapers, books, magazines, as well as by providing free public Internet access. Having a more literate population will lead to a more educated and engaged citizenry.
Unlike the past, reading now is on the increase; however, in order to read at a high level, one must apply various skills and strategies that altogether make the text meaningful. Readers who apply these strategies are better able to understand texts and to develop a more sophisticated vocabulary. Most experienced and skilful readers use a variety of ways to understand the text at hand. Many Researches have emphasized the importance of teaching the following strategies to young and beginning readers.
Making connections is an effective way to encourage students to actively engage with the text. Students who make connections between texts while reading are better able to understand the text they are reading. It is helpful for students to draw on their own prior knowledge and experiences to connect with the text. In this strategy guide, students should learn how to model text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world. Text-to-self refers to connections made between the text and the reader’s personal experience. “The more prior knowledge one has stored about a topic, idea, or concept, the easier it is to understand a text discussing that topic, idea, or concept” (Pearson et al., 1979). Text-to-text probes into the relationship between the current text and relating it to texts read in the past. To best exemplify this is to compare story elements in one book with one another. Text-to-world connections entail associating certain aspects of the text with what is currently taking place or what has happened in reality.
To effectively encourage young readers to use this strategy, teachers should spend a great deal of time modeling for students how to make meaningful connections. Reading titles, asking questions, and using visual aids are all ways to help make connections. Asking questions is particularly important, as they can indicate whether students have understood the text.
Making predictions is the strategy in which readers use clues from the story, along with what they know from their own experiences, to anticipate what they are going to read or what is going to be next. Readers who make predictions are more likely to understand the text well, because they are constantly thinking ahead as well as revising and verifying their predictions.
Teachers can help students make predictions about texts by previewing and predicting using the title of the text, pictures, headings, subheadings, etc. This is the most accurate technique that provides students with sufficient background knowledge before beginning their first reading.
Making Inferences is the reasoning involved in drawing conclusions based on evidence and prior knowledge rather than observation. It involves using what one already knows to form links, which is often known as “reading between the lines.” Readers making inferences often use the clues in the text together with their own experience to help them figure out what is indirectly implied.
One important way to actively encourage students to make inferences is that teachers should first introduce the concept to students. After, the teacher has to explain to students why this can be so important in the process of understanding the text. Such technique on the part of the latter can help students use inferences effectively.
Coping with unfamiliar vocabulary is pivotal in improving one’s reading comprehension. Students who are not advanced in English often encounter dozens of unknown words while reading. This is a large reason why many learners end up feeling frustrated and unwilling to continue their reading. In fact, building a good English vocabulary is not as difficult as most students think, but the key to make this successful is to know how to do it and to work hard for it.
To teach this strategy effectively, teachers have to encourage students to work on word meaning. Using a variety of games is one way to help students remember words. Encouraging the use of dictionaries is also a necessity. However, teachers should help students consider the context of the word before checking the dictionary, as explanations can sometimes be confusing. Students should also learn strategies to guess the meaning of a word before referring to the dictionary. This will also encourage them to use their thinking and linking skills.
Self-questioning is simply a process in which students ask and answer questions while reading. This method helps students go over most of the difficulties of the text in ways that good readers do naturally. “Questioning is the strategy that keeps readers engaged. When readers ask questions, they clarify understanding and forge ahead to make meaning. Asking questions is at the heart of thoughtful reading.” Harvey and Goudvis.
There are three useful steps that the teacher can encourage to help students ask questions about the text under study. They are: thinking aloud, guided practice and independent practice. “Thinking aloud” has been often described as spying on someone’s thinking. With this step, teachers verbalize their thoughts while reading a selection orally. Guided practice is to show to the students how to do the task properly. As part of instruction delivery, good teachers incorporate guided practice through active application of information and when students use information, it is more likely to be acquired and recalled. Independent practice, on the other hand, involves students engaging with learning from the earlier stages of reading, with the teacher keeping an eye on their work.
The Visualize Strategy encompasses creating a vivid image in the students’ minds based on what they read. Visualizations can include anything that makes the scene more real such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings. Visualizing brings the text to life. Unlike using words, students can boost their imagination and their senses. When students visualize, they gain insight into the experiences of the incidents they read about, thus helping students remember them later. Keene and Zimmerman in their book Mosaic of Thought emphasised that visualizing, however, is a comprehension strategy that enables readers to make the words on a page real and concrete.
During the reading process, the teacher should ask students to pause after a few sentences which contain good descriptive information in an attempt to relate this image to real life situations. While being in pause, the teacher should share the image he has created in his mind, and talk about which word from the book helped him “draw” his picture. Drawing vivid images reinforces the students’ understanding of the text.
Summarizing the text teaches students how to discern the most important ideas in a text, how to ignore irrelevant information, and how to integrate the central ideas in a meaningful way. Summarizing builds comprehension by helping to reduce confusion.
In order to help students know how to summarize, teachers should make them aware of its importance through a variety of different mediums, including writing, oral activities, drama, art and music. Teachers train students to process the information they read with the goal of breaking down content into succinct pieces. Summarizing text by using writing activities builds on prior knowledge, helps improve writing, and strengthens vocabulary skills.
In general, reading is never an easy-going process, but can be overwhelmingly difficult when not taught effectively. These seven methods, however, can be used effectively to help shape successful readers. Teachers should keep these methods in mind when teaching their students, and their students should strive to use the methods most useful to them and the way they process information. Reading is a process that can always be improved with the right tools.
Keene, E.O., & Zimmermann, S. (1997). Mosaic of thought: Teaching comprehension in a reader’s workshop. Portsmouth NH: Heinemann.
Pearson, P.D., Hansen, J., & Gordon, C. (1979). The effect of background knowledge on young children’s comprehension of explicit and implicit information. Journal of Reading Behavior, 11(3), 201-209.
Rosgal S.A. Greenwood, J. (1992). Class Readers. Hong Kong: O.U.P. Harmer, J. (2010). How to Teach Reading. Pearson –Longman
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