English is the most popular language in the world

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As an effective means of international communication 1 PART 1: INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale of the study. Nowadays, English is the most popular language in the world. As an effective means of international communication, it is used as the official language in many fields of life such as economics, politics, science, technology, sports and many others. This leads to an increasing demand of learning English. There are more and more people who learn English and consider it as an inevitable factor in their work and life. In Vietnam, English has been brought into the school curriculum as a compulsory subject, and the teaching and learning of that international language has been recently paid great attention to. When teaching English, the teacher teaches his students not only the English language but also its usage. And under the right guidance, right help of the teacher, the students have to try their best to master 4 language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking in order to communicate in English successfully. Among these four skills, reading plays an important role in enriching the students’ general knowledge and in helping them with their further study later. Owing to the importance of reading itself, the growing interest in learning English in Vietnam creates a wide learning environment. It can be seen that the teaching of reading of reading comprehension has been paid in increasing attention to its different aspects. As time goes by, many experts and methodologists have come to understand that reading comprehension is important not only at schools but also afterwards. That is reading helps students as readers develop their language ability in general and comprehension skills in particular at schools as well as gives them other benefits to avoid cultural and language bias, etc. in daily communication. Recognizing the importance of reading, I decide on choosing “Using While- Reading Techniques to Improve Reading Comprehension for the 11 th Form Students at Phan Dang Luu High School ” 2. Aims of the study The specific aims of the study are as follows: - Clarifying the nature of reading comprehension in accordance with some important points in teaching this skill. - Investigating the present situation of teaching and learning reading comprehension of the 11 th form students to find out advantages as well as problems facing both teachers and students in reading lessons. - Suggesting useful techniques to develop the reading comprehension skills in the while- reading stage for the 11 th form in Phan Dang Luu high school. 3. Scope of the study Due to the limitation, all the techniques suggested are used in the while- reading stage. And the object of this study is the 11 th form students at Phan Dang Luu high school. 4. Methods of the study To implement this study, the following methods are used: - Consulting related materials: For the sake of getting knowledge and useful ideas, I read many books and other materials in addition to earlier researches about reading and teaching reading comprehension. - Delivering survey questionnaire and observing reading lessons: To fulfill this thesis, two survey questionnaires, one for students and another for teachers and some reading class observations were carried out to find out the teachers’ and students’ attitudes toward teaching and learning reading as well as their working methods. 5. Significance of the study. The findings of the study are believed to be useful for reading teachers to be aware of the essential role of while- reading stage in a reading lesson. Furthermore, the suggestions for while- reading techniques hopefully can help the students to improve their reading skills as well as the teachers. 6. Design of the study. The thesis is divided into three parts. The first part is the Introduction which includes rationale aims, scope, methods, significance and design of the study. The second- Development is the main part which consists of three chapters. Chapter I is about review of literature relating to reading comprehension. Chapter II investigates the present situation of learning and teaching reading to the 11 th form students at Phan Dang Luu high school. Chapter III gives some suggested techniques used in the while- reading stage to develop the reading skill for the 11 th form students. Part III is the Conclusion of the study. 2 PART 2: DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW In this chapter, I attempt to deal with definitions of reading in general and reading comprehension in particular, types of reading and teaching reading comprehension. 1.1. Theoretical background of reading comprehension 1.1.1 Definitions of reading. The term “Reading” is widely used in practice. However, reading is differently defined due to the areas of defining in term of activities or goals at any one level on grade. That is why, no definition of reading can possibly include all points of views and features. Moreover, each one’s definition only reflects what reading means to that person. However, a careful considered definition of reading is very necessary for the reading teacher. Because reading is the most critical aspect of any teaching programme and for the teachers to decide what they will teach in the classroom. Herein, I would like to mention some definitions of reading extracted from different sources on the theme. Elias and Ingram (1977:55) states: “Reading was defined as the abstraction of meaning from a visual configuration, and was shown to involve desirably not a painstaking grapheme- by- grapheme decoding but the postulation of alternatives of meaning which one reduced by the parsimonious interaction of the component process with the visual configuration.” Besides, Goodman (1982) points out reading as psycholinguistic guessing game. Because it deals with how language and thought are interactive, but it operates within a sociolinguistic context. According to the Gould, Diyanni, Smith and Standford (1990), reading is related to interpretation, making sense of all events taking place around us for a process of making potential meanings for readers. Especially, Buzan (1997) finds that all common reading definitions only relate to a part of the process and an accurate definition of reading must contain the full range of reading skills, or reading as a multi- level process which comprise the following steps: • Recognition: You are concerned with understanding of alphabetical symbols. This step occurs instantly before physical reading begins. 3 • Assimilation: This step starts with word then to the eye and via the optic nerve to the brain. • Intra- Integration: This step refers to the link of all parts of the information being read with all other appropriate parts. • Extra- Integration: This step requires learners to bring all of their previous knowledge to what they read, making appropriate connections, analyzing, criticizing, appreciating, selecting and rejecting. • Retention: This step requires the basic storage of information of the readers. • Recall: This process shows the ability of the readers to get back the storage when it is needed. • Communication: This process includes written and spoken in which information is used immediately or eventually. It also contains very crucial and often neglected human function: Thinking- “thinking is your ongoing extra integration” (Buzan, 1997:34) Although those reading definitions are of different attitudes to reading, they seem to have some features in common. It is because they all concentrate on the nature of reading. To make this point clear, Abbot, Wingard, Greenwood and McKeating (1981: 81) shows that “Here are two broad aspects or levels. First there is basically visual task, that of deciphering the marks on the page, the brain receiving signals, from the eyes. Secondly, there is cognitive task, that of interpreting the visual information, so the one is not simply “barking at print”” Deriving from those opinions, reading is considered a process in which a reader looks at and understand what has been written out. 1.1.2 Definitions of reading comprehension In teaching reading, it is necessary to understand the nature of reading comprehension. What the teacher understands about it will have a great influence on what he or she teaches in the class. He would know what to teacher and how to make his reading lesson effectively. In fact, methodologists have been providing different definitions of reading comprehension. According to Grellet (1981: 3): “Reading comprehension or understanding a written text means extracting the required information from it as efficiently as possible.” The author 4 means that reading comprehension is an activity which aims at decoding the meaning of word combination in the text in the most efficient way. Also concerning the reading comprehension, Richard and Good (1978:9) provide a clearer point of view: “Reading comprehension is best described as an understanding between the author and the reader. The emphasis is on the reader understanding of the printed page based on the individual reader’s unique background of experience. Reading is much than just pronouncing words correctly or simply what the author intends. It is the process whereby the printed pages stimulate ideas, experiences and responses that are unique to an individual” According to the above authors, reading comprehension is not only simply understanding what is written, but also is what stimulates students to remember from their experiences. That knowledge is then used to get meaning out of printed page, but in the mind of the readers which included not only facts or details but also emotion, belief and critical evaluation. From these opinions, it can be concluded that reading comprehension is a process of understanding what is conveyed in the text. It does not mean that the reader needs to understand every single word in the text but actively work on the text and extract the required information efficiently. 1.1.3 The importance of reading Deriving from some of reading definitions above, we find that reading is a very important factor in language acquisition. It is important because it is considered an essential skill both at school and afterwards. Reading takes its place alongside the development of oral ability in the school programme. Reading also gives us as readers a lot of opportunities to contact with different contexts in our daily life. Byrne (1988:46) provides three reasons for the importance of reading as follows: “* It offers language learners another areas of success. We should accept that not all students will be good speakers and at least give them credit if they become good readers *It gives the students a skill which they can use on their own (i.e. it is a key to self- access work) * It is likely to be one of the skills that most students will need in the long term. Certainly, it is one that they will always be able to put to use. That is, they can read even if they do not get any opportunities to speak. ” 5 Generally, no one can deny that reading brings readers an ocean of knowledge of different areas. They can learn more experience of life. Then they have necessary benefits to avoid difficulties in mutual understanding in communication such as: culture shock, language shock due to different cultures, habits, and languages. Moreover, reading is also an important way of expanding students’ receptive knowledge of language and stimulating students to talk and write. However, all reasons mentioned earlier show that in terms of classroom activities it is good for students to read but we can not assume that all students are efficient readers. Much depends on how well they have been taught to read in their mother tongue. 1.1.4 Types of reading. We read different texts in different ways. According to the way of reading, we have aloud reading and silent reading. Depending on the purpose of reading, we can classify reading into skimming, scanning, intensive reading and extensive reading. 1.1.4.1 According to the ways of reading. 1.1.4.1.1 Aloud reading Aloud reading is an unnatural activity because most people do not read aloud in real life, and it is difficult for the speaker to pay attention to the meaning of the text when reading aloud. According to Doff (1988:67), “aloud reading involves looking at a text, understanding it and also saying it. Its purpose is not just to understand a text but to convey the implication to someone else.” This kind of activity seems to be more popular in the language classroom. It focuses on the pronunciation of words in the text rather than understanding. In reading a text, students come across many new words and phrases that they do not know how to pronounce. The teacher, in this case may help his students pronounce words by reading the text orally and loudly. Aloud reading is often applied for beginners and limited in upper classes because of some reasons. Firstly, it takes up a long time as students often read slowly when they focus on pronunciation. They consequently have not enough time to deduce the meaning of the text or complete comprehension exercises. Secondly, because students are concerned with pronunciation, it is hardly for them to understand the meaning of the text as Lewis and Hill (1995:110) mention: “Asking a student to read aloud also means that he may concentrate 6 inadequately on their meaning. He may read correctly but afterward will not be able to tell what he has read” That is the reason why, only for the early stages of foreign language learning, aloud reading should become an established part of a lesson to help the beginners read words, phrases with correct stress and intonation in a sentence. 1.1.4.1.2 Silent reading Silent reading is the nearest approach to the essence of reading. Because only by reading silently, can the readers best comprehend the written materials in the shortest possible time. According to Broughton, Brumfit and other linguistics (1980:92), the nature of silent reading skills is far from uniform. It is changeable according to the use to which it is being put. Some of them are mentioned as follows: • To survey material which is to be studies, to look through indexes, chapter heading and outlines. • To skim- particularly when one item of information is being sought in a mass of other printed information. • To gain superficial comprehension, as when reading for pleasure or preparing to read aloud. • To study the content of what is read in some detail. • To study the language in which the material is written. Through these ways of using reading, the readers’ depth and detail of understanding, of comprehension will be improved effectively. 1.1.4.2 According to the purposes of reading. 1.1.4.2.1 Skimming Skimming is commonly used in reading comprehension. It is one of specific reading techniques necessary for quick and efficient reading. There have been many definitions of skimming. Greenwood (1981:92) writes: “the reader goes through particular passage such as newspaper article merely to get the gist” In this term, Douglas Brown has the same opinion but it is clearer than that of above author. He wrote: 7 “Skimming consists of quickly running eyes across the whole text for its gist. Skimming gives readers the advantage of being able to predict the purpose of the passage, the main topic, or massage, or possibly some of the developing or supporting ideas.” Considering the two opinions, it can be concluded that skimming is a skill that enables readers to get the main point of the text without being concerned with details. They only go through the text very fast to get general sense or the gist of it. In brief, skimming is a very useful study technique to help the learner organize his thoughts and specify what information he can get from a book, so that his reading is more efficient. Hence, skimming should be applied in teaching reading to help students have an overview of what they read. 1.1.4.2.2 Scanning Similar to skimming, scanning is a necessary technique in reading efficiently. Douglas (2001:308) defines scanning as follows: “Scanning was quickly searching for some particular piece or pieces of information in a text” Sharing the same opinion with Douglas Brown, Williams (2001:100) emphasizes: “Scanning occurs when a reader goes through a text very quickly in order to find a particular point of information.” It reveals the key to scanning is to decide exactly what kind of information we are looking for and where to find it. In addition, Grellet (1981:19) gives a more detailed definition of scanning: “When scanning, we only try to locate information and often we do not even follow the linearity of passage to do so, and scanning is far more limited since it only means retrieving what information is relevant to our purpose.” These authors have the same point that while scanning reader does not need to read form cover to cover, they only look for the information they want by running their eyes rapidly along the lines. It can be practised with the great range of texts such as dictionaries, map, advertisements, labels, etc. This kind of reading is very useful in reading selectively. In general, both skimming and scanning are effective techniques for quick and efficient reading. It is advisable to make use of them to improve reading comprehension skills for students in reading classes. 8 1.1.4.2.3 Intensive reading Intensive reading is also widely used in a reading class. Its is an effective way to explore the text, to go deeply into the meaning and the organization of the text. According to Grellet (1981:4) “Intensive reading means reading short text to extract specific information. This is an accuracy activity involving reading for details.” In addition, Nuttal (1989:23) writes: “Intensive reading involves approaching the texts under the close guidance of the teacher…, or under the guidance of a task which forces the students to pay great attention to the ext. the aim of intensive reading is to arrive at a profound and detail understanding of the text: not only of what is means but also of how the meaning is produced. ” From the mentioned opinions intensive reading’s aim is to achieve full understanding of the logical arguments, attitude, and purposes of the writer as well as his linguistic means to achieve these purposes. Sharing the same opinion with Nuttal, Douglas (2001:312) defines: “Intensive reading is usually a classroom oriented activity in which students focuses on linguistic or semantic details of a passage. Reading calls students’ attention to grammatical forms, discourse markers and other surface structure details for the purpose of understanding literal meaning, implication, rhetorical relationships and the like”” In short, intensive reading is a basic classroom activity. It is really effective if the teacher and his students know how to fully exploit this activity in class with the help of reading exercises. 1.1.4.2.4 Extensive reading Extensive reading is also called “reading for fluency”. The students read long texts to have general understanding, to develop fluency in reading or to relax. This is an activity involving global understanding just as Grellet (1981:4) confirms: “Extensive reading means reading longer text, usually or one’s own pleasure. This is a fluency activity mainly involving general understanding.” In Brown’s opinion, besides practising fluency, extensive reading helps students enrich their language elements because it is one of the keys to achieve reading ability, linguistic competence, vocabulary, spelling and writing (2001:301) 9 And to Nuttal (1989:168), this kind of reading is also a very useful skill for students to widen their knowledge as he wrote: “The best way to improve one’s knowledge of foreign language is to go and live among its speakers. The next best way is to read extensively in it.” To summarize, extensive reading is one of good ways to improve one’s knowledge of a foreign language because its aim is to cover the content of text in the shortest possible period of time. In the language classroom, the teacher must introduce some suitable reading materials to students, as it is useful for them to form a good habit of reading. 1.2 Teaching reading comprehension 1.2.1 Relationship between reading and other skills. In the process of teaching and learning English, it is very crucial for learners to realize the integration of language. That is the possibilities of other aspects of foreign programme. Therefore, reading skill is closely related to writing, listening and speaking skills. Understanding relations will help learners succeed. According to Rivers and Temperly (1978), reading skill is not a single skill but an integrated- language skill. Firstly, reading is related to writing. That is when students are asked to summarize or continue the reading material such as resume, end of a story, short descriptions of the characters, etc. secondly, reading is concerned with listening comprehension. Students may listen to a story, a play… than read it or read first and “listen to a worthwhile reading or dramatic presentation of what they have read. The aural element adds vividness and life to the reading unit” (Rivers and Temperly, 1978:259). They further note that “Practice in direct reading of a text which is readily accessible to the students at their present level of knowledge, while they are simultaneously listening to a taped model reading it in meaningful and expressive segments, can help students develop useful habits of anticipation and syntactic identification in both of these skills.” Thirdly, that is integration of reading and speaking. Reading materials serve as a fundamental source for oral presentations as they can base on these ideas they have read to discuss or debate for their own purposes. This is the best way for them to share what they have been reading with others. To summarize, those combinations between reading and, writing, listening, speaking comprehension should be put into serious consideration when teaching and learning English as a foreign language. 10 [...]... focus them on exploiting the meaning of the text, and develop their reading skills 1.2.3.2.2 Activities Studying the reading lesson, Sheils (1993:92) suggests a wide range of activities in the while- reading stage: 1 Deducing meaning 6 Following instructios 2 Questioning 7 Comparing 3 Recognizing 8 Note- taking 4 Matching 9 Completing 5 Ordering 10 Decision- making/ Problem- solving 15 Concerning the. .. first, and the reading for specific information In the while- reading stage, to direct students to the general understanding of the text, the teacher may ask them to guess the title, to match the heading etc He also may ask students to find out the specific information in the text by answering the questions, to use the information in the text for completing tables or diagrams Furthermore, the students... attitudes towards teaching and learning reading texts The second is to find out students difficulties in learning reading texts, the third is to investigate the methods of teaching and learning reading texts 2.1.3 Methods of the study To carry out this study, the following methods are used: - Using survey questionnaire: To find out the present situation of learning and teaching reading to the 11th form students... considerably their reading skills 1.2.2.2 The roles of the students In communicative language teaching, the learners are regarded as the centre of the lesson It is true in every reading lesson During the reading process, the students play the role of an active and creative listener as well as readers In a reading lesson Students must take an active role as listener They need to listen to the teacher’s instructions... speaking, listening and writing (Chart 2) And because both students and teachers were aware of the importance of reading comprehension, most of them accordingly think that developing reading comprehension is necessary (Chart 3) This is a great advantage in teaching and learning this skill The next question focuses on the students’ and teachers’ opinion about reading text in the text book (Chart 4) In. .. 3.1.2.5 Matching heading In this activity, the students are provided with a list of headings which is the summary of each paragraph in the text Their task is to glance quickly at the entire paragraph and match the suitable heading for each If they can find out the right title for each paragraph, they may understand efficiently all the main points conveyed in the text For example, for the text “Space... 3.1.2.4 Finding topic sentences One of the useful activities which helps students understand the main points of the text is finding the topic sentence for each paragraph in the text That key sentence is often at the beginning of each paragraph The students can look for it to get the idea of what follows For example, for the text “Hobbies” (English 11: 146), the teacher may ask his students to skim the text... the significance of the text To acquire these skills, students may be instructed to take part in various activities according to each skill There are numerous activities in this stage The teacher should be flexible in choosing them for their reading lessons In the process of reading, asking students to work in pairs or groups is also advisable This may enable students to feel more pleasant in reading,... than the previous activities Instead of finding the topic sentences and underlining them or looking at a list of headings and matching to suitable paragraphs, the students have to read the whole paragraph and figure out the topic revealed in each For instance, in the text “Nature in danger” (English 11: 115), the teacher may ask students to skim over the text and write down a phrase that expresses the. .. for 65% Next is the number of students who consider widening vocabulary and grammatical structures as their reading purposes (27%); 15% of them read for developing language skills; 9% read for information and reading for pleasure is the least percentage (only 3%) As can be seen, the purposes of reading in English are various Many students think that reading can help them much in reinforcing language skills . knowledge and in helping them with their further study later. Owing to the importance of reading itself, the growing interest in learning English in Vietnam. of interpreting the visual information, so the one is not simply “barking at print”” Deriving from those opinions, reading is considered a process in
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