Effective Reading in Exam Classes by Jeanette Corbett
paper will first outline the choice of the subject and my
interest in the area. Then answer the what why and how questions,
finally looking at reading in the EFL classroom and possible
activities to develop reading. As and when required, it refers
my reading and opinions on the subject.
I decided to focus on reading because I believe it is underrated
as a skill that can be exploited in the classroom and developed
for outside use. Too often texts are used only to check comprehension
without being exploited as their natural genre nor is reading
treated as the means from which language is learnt. Though
this criticism is in contrast with the purpose of a reading
exam - to check understanding, I believe it is applicable
in exam classes.
I will look at what reading is, our reasons for reading, how
we read and finally their applicability to the lesson today.
I hope by completing this assignment, I'll improve my knowledge
of reading and gain a clearer picture of how it can be exploited
in class for learning and developing interest for use outside
As with any question the answer is somewhat ambiguous we could
define it in a number of ways as done by Wallace, who offers
several situations to define the above: a sight test, a piece
of vocabulary, reading aloud and the instructions of a computer
manual. Though I am in agreement with her definition relating
to the final situation, in that 'reading' can be substituted
for 'interpret' - working out the meaning of a written text
to take action of some kind (3). A similar definition is offered
by Grellet related to comprehension as the understanding of
a written text to extract the required information as efficiently
as possible. (2)
I can accept both definitions as equally valid but working
out the meaning or understanding the text relates directly
to the purpose for which one is reading and in turn defines
the strategies we naturally employ (our style of reading)
to get the information we need.
do we read?
Two main reasons can be identified: to obtain information
or for pleasure. The former being goal oriented, the latter
being for reading fluency. Each forms an integral part of
our lives, I feel sure we read more in a day that what we
could identify because we naturally reject irrelevant information.
Reading in a classroom often appears to be false because the
environment itself is centred on learning therefore dictates
the purpose of a text - only to be read to check understanding.
However as a teacher, I believe both of the above purposes
have relevance and need to be developed in the classroom.
To obtain information as it confirms that through reading,
language is can be recognised by the learner. Equally so for
pleasure because by allowing students to read for pleasure
in the classroom they respond naturally to the text as a reader
and incorporate their interpretations and experiences into
any subsequent activity. (7) A reader-response is something
I've been developing with my students and I'll return to this
later in this paper.
Having defined reading and established the purpose for reading,
we will now look at how we read.
do we read?
With this question those immortal EFL words spring to mind:
skim (reading for gist) and scan (quickly reading for a particular
piece of information). We freely introduce them in the classroom
as we dictate the style of reading required in our students
yet is it how they would read in their own language? And do
we relate each reading activity to the relevant text type
for example - scan for information using an advertisement
rather than an extract from a novel?
As children we are encouraged to read every word in the aim
of developing vocabulary and I believe this is important.
Subsequently as adults, we become selective in our reading,
naturally rejecting unimportant information as we read material,
according to the action we wish to take. Quite often, I'll
only read a newspaper headline and the first paragraph because
I know it's enough to satisfy my interest and that the most
important information is contained in the first paragraph.
Equally students have already developed techniques related
to genre in their own language but often need these skills
highlighting for use in their second language.
In essence we read according to our purpose and what we wish
to obtain from the material. In real life, the choice to read
on or reject the material depends if the writer's message
matches the expectations of the reader, which are constantly
revised as they read and re-interpret the writer's message
- this choice isn't available to the student either in an
exam or classroom, the text has to be read to assess their
understanding. Can we introduce choice into EFL reading and
how is reading used in the EFL classroom?
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the lesson plan
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