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Developing Effective Reading in Exam Classes by Jeanette Corbett
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This 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.

Introduction: Reasons
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 the classroom.

What is Reading?
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.

Why 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.

How 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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