Tashkent state Agrarian University
ISSN (печатный вариант): 2073-0071
“If teachers understand the nature of reading comprehension and learning from a text, they will have the bases for evaluating and improving learning environments.”(Tierney and Pearson 1994, 496) An overview of instructional material for ESL/ EFL reveals that textbooks published before the 1970s do not include pre- reading activities. The reader is often plunged into the text and comprehension is evaluated through post- reading questions that emphasize recognition or recall. This is done mostly through close- ended questions that focus on explicit referential meanings and that are mostly targeted at lower level skills. For example, in textbooks based on the audio-lingual method, reading passages highlight the structures and vocabulary introduced in the unit. There are no pre- reading activities and the exercises that follow the selections either focus on the language system itself, or the comprehension questions are of the multiple- choice type where only one correct answer is possible. Today, many textbooks echo the ideas advocated by the schema theorists: such texts are successful in activating assessing relevant schemata through the use of pre-, during- , and post-reading activities. The aim of these books is to assist students in developing activities are prevalent. Eskey (1988) points out that the concept- driven models have constraints since they overlook the “perceptual and decoding dimension of the process (93) and he argues that the top-down approach is appropriate for the already fluent reader, but not for the less proficient one… The nature of reading- how people learn to process textual information- has been researched by cognitive and behavioral scientists for many decades, and their work has contributed contrasting theories about what works best in the teaching of reading. As a result, language educators can choose among a wide variety of teaching methods and techniques for students learning to read in their school language. Reading is a crucial skill for students of English as a Second Languages (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL), and understanding the rationale behind these methods is essential for teachers who want to improve their reading lessons. Two main approaches explain the nature of learning to read: bottom- up processing so called because it focuses on developing the basic skills of matching sounds with the letters, syllables, and words written on a paper, and top- down processing, which focuses on the background knowledge a reader uses to comprehend a written text. The bottom- up approach is associated with a teaching methodology called phonetics, while the top- down approach is associated with schema theory. In this article I will describe both views of the reading process, including some corresponding teaching activities and materials. Today, the main method associated with the bottom- up approach to reading is known as phonetics, which requires the learner to match letters with sounds in a defined sequence. According to this view, reading is a linear process by which readers decode a text word by word, linking, the words into phrases and then sentences (Gray and Rogers 1956). In other words, textual comprehension involves adding the meanings of words to get the meanings of clauses (Anderson 1994). As with the audio lingual teaching method, phonics requires a strong emphasis on repetition and on drills using the sounds that make up words. The bottom- up model describes information flow as a series of stages that transforms the input and passes it to the next stage without any feedback or possibility of later stages of the process influencing earlier stages.(Stanovich 1980). Ausebel (1968), an early cognitive psychologist, made an important distinction between meaningful learning and rote learning. Meaningful learning, on the other hand, occurs when new information is presented in a relevant context and is related to what the leaner already knows, thereby being “easily integrated into one’s existing cognitive structure” (Omaggio 1993, 58). Reading, in this sense, is “a dialogue between the reader and the text” (Grabe 1988, 56). Reading is not a passive mechanical activity but “purposeful and rational, dependent on the prior knowledge and expectations of the reader. Bransford (1994) also mentions that difficulties in comprehension may be attributed to the lack of background knowledge presumed by the text, and he sees the responsibility of instructors as being two fold: to activate pre- existing schemata and to help students to integrate isolated “pockets” of knowledge into a schemata or to build a new one. Obviously, the role of the teacher is paramount to activate and build schemata. A first task is to select texts that are relevant to the students’ needs, preferences, individual differences, and cultures. After selecting a text, the following three stages of activities are typically used to activate and build students’ knowledge: 1. Pre- reading. This is achieved by having students think, write, and discuss everything they know about the topic, employing techniques such as prediction, semantic mapping and reconciled reading. 2. During- reading. This stage requires the teacher to guide and monitor the interaction between the reader and the text. One important skill teachers can impart at this stage is note- taking, which allows students to compile new vocabulary and important information and record their reactions and opinions. 3. Post- reading. The post- reading offers the change to evaluate students’ adequacy of interpretation, while learning in mind that accuracy is relative and that “reader ship” must be respected as long as writer’s intentions are addressed. Pre- reading different activities and materials can help the teacher introduce key vocabulary and strengthen concept association to activate both formal and content. Various pre- reading activities to help learners brainstorm and predict how the information fits in with their previous knowledge. Prediction is the core of reading. All of our scripts and scenarios our prior knowledge of places and situations, of written discourse, genres, and stories- enable us to predict when we read and thus to comprehend, experience and enjoy what we read. Another activity is previewing, where students look at titles, headings and pictures, and read the first few paragraphs and the last paragraph; these activities can then help students understand what the text is about by activating their formal and content material and making them familiar with the topic before they begin reading in earnest. Semantic mapping is important to know something about the students so the selected texts contain the type of material that is likely to be familiar and interesting to them… Let us learn Extensive reading. Extensive reading is individually and silently for the purpose of enjoyment - also promotes fluency. It is important to bear in mind that students learn to read by reading, they need to read a great deal. It’s necessary to make interesting long reading selections together with opportunities for silent reading available to learners in and out of class. Conclusion What is important to bear in mind is that relying too much on either top- down or bottom- up processing may cause problems for beginning ESL/ EFL readers; therefore, to develop reading abilities, both approaches should be considered, as the interactive approach suggests. Extensive amounts of research, opinions, and suggestions exist regarding the teaching of the reading skill, and this summary of reading methods is by no means exhaustive. In my own experience as an EFL teacher, I have found that the students who benefit the most from the interactive approach are those poor readers who approach texts in a painful, slow and frustrating word- by- word manner. I believe that teachers must emphasize both the psycho and the linguistic.
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