Developing reading skills

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Introduction Main part: Reading skills. A Writing Approach to – Reading Comprehension – Schema Theory in Action. The nature of foreign-language teaching. Vocabulary teaching techniques. Conclusion. References Introduction Composing and comprehending: two sides of the same basic process. The National Assessment of Educational Progress reveals that eighty-five percent of all thirteen-years-olds can correctly complete a multiple choice check on comprehension, but only fifteen percent can write an acceptable sentence summarizing the paragraph read. Such conditions, too frequent in most of today’s schools, stem inevitably from a failure to recognize that composing and comprehending are process-oriented thinking skills which are basically interrelated. Our failure to teach

composing and comprehending as process impedes our efforts not only to teach children to read and write, but our efforts to teach them how to think. Comprehending is critical because it requires the learner to reconstruct the structure and meaning of ideas expressed by another writer. To possess an idea that one is reading about requires competence in regenerating the idea, competence in learning how to write the ideas of another. This aspect of the relationship between comprehending and composing explains Graves and Hansen report early success in their exploratory project encouraging first grade children to write about their reading ( and to verbalize about the process) (1982). The relationship and the absence of adequate interaction about ideas also explains why preschool

children learn little from the 5,000 or more hours they spend watching television (Schramm 1977). Activity without language does not become experience. The work of Ann Brown and others with their studies of metacognition (1977, 1978, 1982), Duffy and Roehler’s explorations in reading (1981), and Perry Lanier’s work in mathematics at the Institute for Research on Teaching, Michigan State University (1982), are demonstrating how thinking about the process of comprehending, that is, consciously considering the reconstructions that one composes, can enhance the basic process itself. The skills required to read science must acquired through reading science. The skills required in writing science can be learned only by writing science. Basic reading and writing instruction can

provide children with a rudimentary vocabulary and certain basic skills of literacy, but application to higher levels of processing requires specialized uses. We have long since learned that unless children are taught to apply basic comprehension skills to a variety of subject mutters – and experience guided practice in applying the skills – they will not easily transfer their skills. Instances of ability, say, to apply academic reading skills to life situations have been widely reported. See, for example, the Adults Functional Literacy Project (Murphy 1973). One reason, of course, is that the skills have unique and particular relevance to every discipline. Reading for sequence in a short story, for example, is very different from reading for historical sequence, or reading

for sequence in a process article. Direct attention to skill applications in reading (and writing, too) appears to be mandatory and is one reason why content area selections must be introduced in basic reading programs. Restricted only to reading poems, plays, and stories, children can too easily find their competence restricted to literary activity as well. Reading skills The art of reading is mainly a matter of concentrating on the import of the written words, and not on the words themselves. Words are merely the medium whereby the massage of the writer is conveyed to the reader. A pupil is said to have acquired correct reading habits when he can focus his attention on the massage and not on the form; when he treats the text as a familiar form of discourse and not as a task in