Depаrtment оf the english lаnguаge аnd literаture cоurse wоrk оn theme: “Develоping students' cоmpetencies thrоugh brоаd reаding”

Teaching reading skills in EFL classes: practice and procedures

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Nilufar Developing students\' competencies through broad reading

2.3 Teaching reading skills in EFL classes: practice and procedures
Teaching reading skills is an essential component of English as a foreign language (EFL) classes, as it helps students to develop their language proficiency and comprehension abilities. Here are some practices and procedures for teaching reading skills in EFL classes:
1. Pre-reading activities: Before starting the reading lesson, teachers can introduce the topic and activate students' prior knowledge by asking questions, showing pictures or videos related to the text, or using real-life examples.
2. Skimming and scanning: Teachers can teach students how to skim and scan the text to get the main idea and specific details quickly. This skill helps students to comprehend the text effectively without spending much time.6
3. Vocabulary building: Vocabulary plays a significant role in reading comprehension. Teachers can introduce new vocabulary words before the lesson or during the reading activity. Students can learn new words through definitions, synonyms, antonyms or by using context clues.
4. Comprehension activities: Teachers can use various comprehension activities such as multiple-choice questions, true/false statements, fill-in-the-blank exercises, summarizing or retelling activities to assess students' understanding of the text.
5. Active reading strategies: Encouraging students to read actively involves asking them to make predictions about the text based on their background knowledge or visual cues, making connections between new information and previous knowledge, identifying author's purpose or tone, and so on.
6. Reading fluency practice: Reading fluency refers to how smoothly and accurately a student reads a text aloud. Teachers can encourage students to practice reading aloud in small groups or pairs to improve their fluency skills.
7. Extensive reading: Encourage students to read extensively by providing them with graded readers or simplified texts that match their proficiency level. Extensive reading improves vocabulary acquisition, grammar skills, comprehension abilities, and overall language proficiency.
In conclusion, teaching reading skills in EFL classes requires a variety of practices and procedures that engage students' interest, develop their comprehension abilities, and improve their language proficiency.
Worldwide demand for learning English has dramatically increased . The main reason is that English is the world’s most widely used foreign or second language (L2). Moreover, it is the language of international commerce, science, education, and technology, with people from different linguistic backgrounds using English to communicate with each other.
In Ethiopia, English has been taught as a subject and also used as a medium of instruction for secondary and higher education. A number of courses and different teaching materials are also prepared in English. In its general aspect, English is used in various fields. Abebe states that English has been widely used in many areas such as politics, economics, tourism, electronics, telecommunications, culture, and science and technology. It is not only used as a means but also a key to accessing the latest development in science and technology. Moreover, it helps learners to communicate in the classroom and in a wide variety of everyday life situations.
The learning of this vital and international language needs a mastery of the four language skills. Thus, the mastery of these skills requires well-designed teaching procedures. As reading is one of the four language skills, its teaching needs carefully selected activities, methods, and procedures. Skills in reading enable learners to benefit from educational activities and to participate fully in the social and economic activities in which they take part.
Beatrice clarifies that reading skills are the cognitive processes that a reader uses in making sense of a text. For fluent readers, most of the reading skills are employed unconsciously and automatically. When confronted with a challenging text, fluent readers apply these skills consciously and strategically in order to comprehend. Zakir added that reading means looking for roots of the tree of meaning. Efficient readers focus on the core of a text. They don’t need to read every word to grasp the main information. They know how to avoid unnecessary text and collect the main point. Therefore, in teaching reading, instructors need to take into account that the best way to improve reading is by letting learners to read different texts and by teaching them various reading strategies of efficient readers. So it is necessary to expose learners to the intensive and extensive reading situation.
According to Brown , half a century ago, reading specialists argued that the best way to teach reading is through bottom-up methodology: teach symbols, grapheme-phoneme correspondences, syllables, and lexical recognition first, then comprehension would derive from the sum of the parts. On the other hand, researches have shown that a combination of top-down and bottom-up processing, or what has come to be called “interactive reading”, is almost always a primary ingredient in successful teaching methodology because both processes are important. Anderson agrees that interactive model combines the elements of both bottom-up and top-down models. Correspondingly, Nuttall explains that the teaching of reading has been in constant revision, especially in recent years. Indeed, computers have led the general public to revise their own needs, skills, and reading strategies in their mother tongues and in foreign languages.
USAID indicated that Ethiopia has made progress to increase access to primary and secondary school education. Unfortunately, the positive achievement of getting more students into schools has strained the capacity of the system and students’ learning has suffered. On top of that, most teachers have little experience with modern pedagogy or research-based reading instruction.
Reading skill instruction is highly beneficial for students of all levels. When teachers explain and model multiple strategies, as well as provide guided and independent practice with feedback until students begin to use the strategy independently, the reading levels of middle and high school students improve. Ganske and Douglas state that the ultimate goal of instruction is to develop independent learners. Thus, the instructional practices that are designed to teach reading skills are expected to eventually carry over into independent reading. The strength of reading lessons should enable learners to comprehend reading materials. In other words, the quality of reading instructions should enable learners to acquire a variety of reading skills.
Consequently, the main goal of teaching the English language is to enable the learners to use the target language and communicate their opinions and thoughts. However, according to Atkins et al many high school students are weak in their reading ability in English Language. This weakness affects their studies and academic performance. Atkins et al added that among the major factor affecting students reading is ineffective teaching of reading. The teacher’s ability to teach reading plays a decisive role in students’ language skills and ultimately in the success of learners. Therefore, for the advantage of next-generation, it is important to improve the teaching of reading in the Ethiopian high schools.
Furthermore, reports from secondary school teachers, experts, and the larger educational community suggest that too many students have a limited ability to understand reading texts. Further, local research has continued to show that the reading ability of Ethiopian secondary school students is deteriorating over time .
The researcher has been teaching first-year students in higher institutions. From classroom observations as an instructor and assessments he has carried out as part of his professional activities such as being a coordinator of English Language Improvement Center (ELIC) and Reading Club, he found out that the majority of the students’ reading skill result is below the standard or expected level. Furthermore, informal and formal departmental discussions indicated that many first-year students are weak in their reading comprehension. These students were unable to answer very simple comprehension questions. On top of this, there were complaints from the students themselves that teachers did not teach reading skills properly in the high schools.
Some local studies have been conducted in the area. Alebel for example, examined the practice of teaching reading skills. He concluded that most teachers do not properly teach the three reading stages (the pre, while and post reading stages). Abebe on the other hand prepared experimental research on teaching reading skills through interactive classroom teaching versus plasma television teaching. His finding shows that teaching reading skills through an interactive classroom have a positive effect on students’ reading comprehension. Mekonnen likewise carried out research to examine the cognitive levels of the reading questions and teachers’ classroom supplements to the questions. He concluded that the cognitive level of the reading questions in this textbook is more of the lower-level type. Moreover, teachers are found to be aware of the case and make efforts to supplement the questions during the lesson.7
This research is different from the above studies since it focuses on investigating the practices of the teaching reading skills with regard to the implementation of the three phases of teaching reading and the procedures used to help learners with low reading skills. Accordingly, it specifically tried to explore the teaching of reading skills and the procedures teachers use to help students with low reading skills. Therefore, this study is believed to add its own value in the area of teaching reading skills with a prime target to fill the gap.
The main purpose of this research is to investigate the practices of teaching reading skills in grade nine EFL classes. Thus, the researcher formulated the following two research questions based on the research problems mentioned above.
How do grade 9 EFL teachers instruct reading skills in the actual classroom? How do teachers help students with low reading skills?
Based on these research questions, the study focused on the following specific objectives. These are:- exploring the teaching of reading skills in grade 9 EFL classes and examining the procedures teachers implement to help learners with low reading skills In short, how is the teaching of reading skills being handled? Does the actual practice of teachers teaching reading skills follow the expected procedures?
Even if it is difficult or impracticable to teach perfectly, being conscious of the common problems one could encounter while instructing reading skills can help teachers minimize these problems or at least reflect on them.

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