Developing test-taking strategies for TOEIC Reading Comprehension Tests A study on non-major English students at University of Economic – Technical Industries

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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FACULTY OF POST – GRADUATE STUDIES ***************** LÊ ANH THƯ Developing test-taking strategies for TOEIC Reading Comprehension Tests: A study on non- English major students at University of Economic – Technical Industries. (Phát triển các chiến lược làm bài thi Đọc hiểu của kỳ thi TOEIC cho sinh viên không chuyên tiếng Anh tại trường Đại học Kinh tế - Kỹ thuật Công nghiệp) M.A. Minor Programme Thesis Field: English Teaching Methodology Code: 60140111 HANOI, 2014 VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FACULTY OF POST – GRADUATE STUDIES ***************** LÊ ANH THƯ Developing test-taking strategies for TOEIC Reading Comprehension Tests: A study on non- English major students at University of Economic – Technical Industries. (Phát triển các chiến lược làm bài thi Đọc hiểu của kỳ thi TOEIC cho sinh viên không chuyên tiếng Anh tại trường Đại học Kinh tế - Kỹ thuật Công nghiệp) M.A. Minor Programme Thesis Field: English Teaching Methodology Code: 60140111 Supervisor: Dr. Ngô Hữu Hoàng HANOI, 2014 i DECLARATION I, Le Anh Thu, hereby state that, this minor thesis is the result of my own research and all the material in this study which is not my own work has been identified and acknowledged. I also state that the substance of the thesis has not, wholly or in part, been submitted for any degree to any other universities institutions. Dated: 25/ 12/ 2013 Lê Anh Thư ii Acknowledgements First and foremost, I would like to express my most sincere thanks to my respected supervisor, Dr. Ngo Huu Hoang for his generous assistance, invaluable advice, guidance, constructive comments. Without his help, this study would not have possibly been completed. I would like to take this opportunity to express my thankfulness to the Post- Grade Department for their enthusiastic help during the time of studying and writing my thesis. I also wish to acknowledge the cooperation of my colleagues and my students, especially the students at University of Economic – Technical Industries who have helped me to collect data for the study. Hereby, I also would like to thank all the readers for their attention and I highly appreciate any comments and opinions on this study. iii ABSTRACT So far, most Vietnamese universities have tended to choose TOEIC as a measure unit to assess input English level and graduation for students. TOEIC score reports provide accurate, meaningful feedback about a test taker‟s strengths and weaknesses, along with a description of the English language strengths typical of test takers performing at various score levels. However, when taking the TOEIC test, especially the TOEIC reading comprehension section, many students do meet a lot of difficulties in reading, and therefore fail to be efficient readers and get high scores. One of the primary causes is that students seem unskilled or unaware of the use of test-taking strategies for TOEIC reading comprehension tests. Then, which strategies should students be used while taking the TOEIC reading comprehension tests? A number of studies and books have already been released in the area of application of test-taking strategies to TOEIC reading comprehension part. This study is concerned with developing test-taking strategies to help non-major English students at UNETI reduce reading difficulties, improve their skills and take the TOEIC reading comprehension tests with higher scores. The result of the study show that non-major English students at UNETI often have difficulties, to different extent, in many areas of the language such as difficulties with vocabulary, with grammar, discourse, and reading strategies. Moreover, the data collected in the study also revealed that the students‟ inefficient use of reading strategies is a great source of reading problems. Through the students‟ low frequency of strategy use to deal with question kinds in TOEIC reading comprehension tests, it is shown that students fail to apply reading strategies effectively in responding to questions during tests. Therefore, the study suggests that to enable to successfully take the TOEIC reading comprehension test, students should actively use strategies involved as skimming and scanning skills, utilize context clues to understand difficult words and find out the synonym or paraphrase for the word. In some cases, if test-takers have no idea about a question, the application of techniques to guess should be needed. Besides, the study also recommends several test- taking strategies for each kind of questions in TOEIC reading comprehension test. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE DECLARATION i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ii ABSTRACT iii TABLE OF CONTENTS iv LIST OF TABLES vii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS viii PART I: INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale of the study 1 2. Aims of the study 2 3. Research questions 2 4. Scope of the study 2 5. Methods of the study 2 5. Significance of the study 2 6. Design of the study 3 PART II: DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 1- THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 1. Reading Comprehension 4 1.1. Reading and Reading comprehension 4 1.1.1. Definitions of reading 4 1.1.2. Definitions of reading comprehension 4 1.2. Models of reading process 5 1.3. Reading comprehension approaches 5 1.3.1. Skimming 6 1.3.2. Scanning 6 1.3.3. Extensive reading 6 1.3.4. Intensive reading 7 1.4. Reading Comprehension Skills and Strategies 7 1.4.1. Reading Strategies 7 1.4.1.1. Reading for specific information 7 v 1.4.2.2. Finding the main ideas 8 1.4.2.3. Guessing vocabulary from the context 9 1.4.2.4. Making inferences 9 1.4.2. Reading Comprehension Skills 10 2. TOEIC reading comprehension tests 12 2.1. What is the TOEIC test? 12 2.2. TOEIC Test Area 12 2.3. Structure of the Test 13 2.4. Test Scoring 13 2.5. Who takes the test? 15 2.6. Test formats: SP and IP 15 2.7. TOEIC Reading Comprehension Section 16 CHAPTER 2- METHODOLOGY 2.1. The context of the study 17 2.2. Participants 18 2.3. Data Collection Instruments 19 2.4. Data collection procedures 19 2.5. Data analysis 20 CHAPTER 3 – FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION 3.1. Students‟ attitude towards TOEIC tests at UNETI 21 3.2. Students‟ perception of their difficulties in taking TOEIC reading comprehension tests at UNETI 21 3.2.1. In the area of Vocabulary 21 3.2.2. In the area of Grammar 22 3.2.3. In the area of Discourse 23 3.2.4. In the area of Reading Strategies 24 3.2.5. Causes of Reading Difficulties 24 3.2.6. Summary 26 3.3. Students‟ frequency of strategy use across four main kinds of questions in TOEIC reading comprehension test. 26 3.3.1. Vocabulary questions 26 3.3.2. Inference Questions 28 vi 3.4. Recommendations on developing test-taking strategies in TOEIC reading comprehension test 29 3.4.1. General test-taking reading strategies 29 3.4.1.2. Read the questions carefully 29 3.4.1.3. Answer every question 30 3.4.1.4. Read the questions before reading the passage 31 3.4.1.5. Skimming 31 3.4.1.6. Scanning 32 3.4.1.7. Use Context Clues to understand difficult words 33 3.4.1.8. Guessing 34 3.4.2. Specific test-taking reading strategies for common question types 35 3.4.2.1. Test-taking reading strategies for vocabulary questions 35 3.4.2.2. Test-taking reading strategies for factual questions 37 3.4.2.3. Test-taking reading strategies for inference questions 37 PART III – CONCLUSION 1. Conclusion 39 2. Limitations and of Recommendations for further Research 40 REFERENCES 41 AppendiX I vii LIST OF TABLES 1. Table 1. Student‟s perception about the importance of the TOEIC test at UNETI 21 2. Table 2. Difficulties in the area of vocabulary 22 3. Table 3. Difficulties in the area of Grammar 23 4. Table 4. Difficulties in the area of Discourse 23 5. Table 5. Difficulties in the area of Reading Strategies 24 6. Table 6. Students‟ personal views of the sources of difficulties 25 7. Table 7: Frequency of Strategy Use for Vocabulary Questions 27 8. Table 8: Frequency of Strategy Use for Inference Question 29 viii LIST OF ABBREVIATION UNETI University of Economic Technical Industries ELT English language teaching TOEIC Test of English for International Communication ETS Educational Testing System TOEIC RC test TOEIC Reading Comprehension test TOEIC LC test TOEIC Listening Comprehension test [...]... dictionary - recognition of multiple meanings - recognition of figurative language: the ability of distinguishing between the literal and the figurative meanings of words  Comprehension skills: - recognition of literal meaning - recognition of inferred meaning - critical evaluation of material - assimilation of material  Study skills: - location of information: How to use sources of information from... his/her about field topics of specialization Although speech is not equivalent to that of a native speaker, the individual has a strong grasp of vocabulary, grammar, and structure 13 and the ability to use the language relatively fluently 860 Is capable of communicating Understands ordinary conversation appropriately in most well and can respond naturally The situations individual also has the ability... English for International Communication (TOEIC) has made great efforts to evaluate the reading comprehension abilities of test takers dealing with academic-like texts It is clear that the reading tasks in TOEIC are able to discriminate better readers from poorer readers However, how exactly do test-takers try to complete the tasks? What reading and test-taking strategies do students use to complete the tasks?... question kinds in TOEIC reading comprehension tests? 3) How to develop students test-taking strategies for TOEIC reading comprehension tests? 4 Scope of study As the title of the study has indicated, the author only focuses on developing test-taking strategies via TOEIC reading comprehension part Besides, because of limited time and scope of the minor thesis, the researcher can only conduct a survey on. .. tasks? For ages of applying TOEIC tests as the standard to assess the level of English proficiency in the workplace and everyday communication of non- major English students at University of Economic and Technical Industries (UNETI), I realize that many students do not know how to utilize multiple test-taking strategies to enhance their performance in successfully taking TOEIC tests in general, and TOEIC. .. study, the instrument used to collect the data, the procedure of data collection Chapter 3 – Findings and Discussion is aimed at describing data analysis in detail and a thorough discussion of the findings of the study Some explanations and interpretations of the findings are also presented in this chapter Part III: Conclusion In this part, the limitations and some recommendations for further research... sufficient for the students to comprehend and practice multiple strategies of all parts in TOEIC tests in general and of the reading comprehension part in particular They are even exposed to a variety of topics and in a variety of formats, and other common methods of presenting information in print Consequently, after three years of adopting TOEIC as a component of tertiary-level exit requirements at the... dimension of teaching and learning as beliefs, attitudes, motivation and preferences” The administration of the questionnaires was convenient for the data collection procedure In addition, it can be given to large groups of subjects at exactly the same time; hence the data are more uniform, standard and accurate (Seliger and Shohamy, 1995) In order to fulfill the aims of the study as presented, the study has... the fourth and fifth term At the end of these terms, TOEIC tests (Test of English for International Communication) are used as the standard to assess the level of English proficiency of students; therefore, students at the UNETI are required to pass a 60 minute TOEIC test Because the main purpose of this examination is to test learners‟ grammar and reading skills, the TOEIC test at this stage only involves... skimming strategies Some seem unaware of the test-taking strategies Hence, the significance of a study on developing test-taking strategies for 1 TOEIC reading comprehension tests as a way of helping non- major English students at UNETI do well in their tests seems undeniable 2 Aims of the Study This study was carried out with following specific purposes: 1) To investigate difficulties and causes of difficulties . seem unaware of the test-taking strategies. Hence, the significance of a study on developing test-taking strategies for 2 TOEIC reading comprehension tests as a way of helping non- major English. Specific test-taking reading strategies for common question types 35 3.4.2.1. Test-taking reading strategies for vocabulary questions 35 3.4.2.2. Test-taking reading strategies for factual questions. already been released in the area of application of test-taking strategies to TOEIC reading comprehension part. This study is concerned with developing test-taking strategies to help non-major
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