Developing reading skills

Trimis la data: 2009-05-01
Materia: Engleza
Nivel: Facultate
Pagini: 32
Nota: 9.87 / 10
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Autor: Andreaa Muntenescu
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Generally speaking, we read for two main reasons: pleasure and the need for information. We read because we want to get something from the text - a message - facts, enjoyment, ideas, or feelings. For our pupils, reading in English is also a means of improving language itself. Some of the language read will stick in their mind as part of the process of language acquisition. Reading also provides models for writing, opportunities to practise and develop the reading skill, and to gain cultural insights and understanding. Reading is also essential in the teaching of literature.

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Although you should encourage your pupils to read and get familiar with as many different types of texts as possible, not all of them can be used in any classroom. Your decisions about what texts to use will depend on who your pupils are and what they need reading for. A balance has to be struck between the types of reading texts and the pupils' capabilities and interests.

There has been a lot of discussion about the texts that are suitable in the classroom. The greatest controversy has centred on the authenticity of texts. Authentic texts are written by and for fluent native speakers, while inauthentic texts are specially designed for learners. In a really authentic text, nothing of the original is changed, either in terms of structure and vocabulary or presentation and layout. Recent textbook materials try to preserve as many of the initial features of an authentic text as possible so that the pupils can anticipate meaning by using non-linguistic clues.

Some teachers believe authentic texts cannot be used with beginner pupils. Actually, there is some authentic material that even beginners can understand to some degree, such as menus, timetables, signs, and simple instructions. Getting your pupils accustomed to reading authentic texts from the beginning does not necessarily mean a more difficult task for them. However, the use of authentic texts with beginner pupils may be frustrating and that is why more accessible, simplified texts are often used instead.

Simplifying a text may mean either replacing difficult words or structures by those already familiar to the pupils, rewriting it in order to make its organisation more explicit, or giving a simplified version of the contents. The difficulty of a reading activity depends as much on the text itself as on the task set for the pupils. That is why, your selection of the activity is as important as the selection of the text.

The reading tasks must be realistic in terms of both language use and pupils' abilities. They should also be flexible and varied. Some may consist in questions of various types. Other texts may lend themselves to non-linguistic activities (e.g. tracing a route on a map, or matching drawings and paragraphs). Anyway, you should encourage your pupils to use different reading strategies (e.g. 'Now skim this text quickly and get the main idea'; 'You'll have to study this text carefully to look for...'). However, it is also important to remember that many texts are to be read for pleasure and that some activities might spoil this pleasure.
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