Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Reading skills

Consider these examples of things students say they do when they meet difficulty in reading comprehension, particularly when they meet a new word or phrase. Would you encourage or discourage any of these, or suggest a sequence of strategies?

a. 'I think about whether the word is important for understanding the whole text': encourage.

b. ‘I read on to see if the word is repeated’: encourage, and it is connected to the one above, because if the word appears more than 3 times and it is key to the understanding of the text, we need to pay attention to it and try to guess the meaning.

c. ‘I go to my dictionary for a translation’: discourage. I will first ask my students to try to guess the meaning from the context and then to translate it but as the last resource.

d. ‘I think if there is a Spanish world like it’: discourage. Sometimes it is helpful, but most of the times words are misleading and they can be false cognates.

e. ‘I ask my teacher to explain’: discourage. I would try to foster independence by making my students try to guess the word or ask their partners, or resort to a dictionary.

f. ‘I look to see if the word has some part I know’: encourage. Sometimes we can guess the meaning of words by looking at its morphology.

g. ‘I say the word out loud’: encourage. Some students are auditory and need to hear the word to check whether they can guess it or not.

h. ‘I start again form the beginning of the sentence’: encourage. It is a good way to make students focus more closely on the context and not just the word, so they can guess it.

i. ‘I ask the other students in my group’: encourage. I don’t like to underestimate my students. Sometimes they know more than what they show.

j. ‘I write it in my notebook’: encourage. As long as the word is not written in isolation, it is a good technique to record the words the student finds interesting or useful and to remember them, most likely.

k. ‘I study the words around it’: encourage. Once more, the context should be the main help for students to guess a word.

I would include also: try to recognize what category the word falls into so as to restrict the scope of its meaning. And I would also like to highlight the importance of the context and meaning of the text so as to work out the meaning of a word.

I have racked my brains thinking about this, now the ball is in your court. What do you think about this entry? You are welcome to leave a comment, as usual.



HEDGE, Tricia (2000), Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom, UK, OUP; Chapter 6 (Discussion Topics and Projects # 2- p. 222)

1 comment:

Gladys Baya said...

I love the way you've accounted for your position all cases, Lorena! 8-)

In the case of b. ‘I read on to see if the word is repeated’, it may be added that different instances will help readers to see the word used in different contexts, which increases their chances of guessing meaning accurately. I also love the idea you've added: most useful, in my experience!

If you can afford some time online, I believe you'd enjoy this article by Jo Bertrand (nd) on "Community Language Learning". Though it does not discuss "teaching reading", it presents an interesting approach to the question of what role L1 can play in the FL lesson, a point you've been looking into before!
All the best,