Teach English in Jiangduo Zhen - Taizhou Shi

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“Read my lips.” “Read the signs.” “Read the symbols.” “Read the numbers.” “Read their actions.” “Read this financial statement.” “Read my facial expressions.” “Read the musical notes.” “Read between the lines.” We often hear the statements above in movies, radios, or even in our day-to-day conversation with anybody. When we started going to school, we had a Reading subject and we were taught the letter sounds and as the lesson progresses, we were taught to combine the letter sounds to produce or say a word. That is how we were able to read our books as we progress with our education. For many years, I am convinced that reading is purely identifying letters sounds so we can pronounce the words properly and clearly. If we are to review the statements above, all of them do not require us to know the letter sounds. Signs, symbols, numbers, and musical notes are illustrations or diagrams that do not have letters on them. Same with actions and facial expressions, these are movements of our body parts. So with this, reading is not only limited to learning or knowing the letter sounds but also understanding other objects and/or ideas so we can communicate with each other. I researched the definition of “reading” online. One website (www.eduplace.com) established a clear definition of “reading”. They surveyed a number of educators and ultimately agreed on the following definitions: Reading is the process of constructing meaning from written texts. It is a complex skill requiring the coordination of a number of interrelated sources of information (Anderson et al., 1985). Reading is the process of constructing meaning through the dynamic interaction among: (1) the reader's existing knowledge; (2) the information suggested by the text being read; and (3) the context of the reading situation (Wixson, Peters, Weber, & Roeber, 1987, citing the new definition of reading for Michigan). With these definitions, we can conclude that reading is a process of comprehending and actively responding to what is being read. However, for me, reading is not only limited to written texts. Going back to the statements above that we often hear, if we do not know how to comprehend and respond actively to these illustrations, diagrams, and/or actions and movements, then our reading skills are somewhat inadequate. If reading skills are inadequate, then it would be difficult for people to live their daily lives because understanding is limited. That is why reading is very essential to us. Without reading, people will experience a lot of difficulties. The first difficulty I would like to point out is for the people who are naturally born without speech. These people have a different way of reading. They read lips if the people they talking to do not know how to do the sign language. Aside from reading lips, they also read signs when they do the sign language. Through sign language, they are able to read one another’s messages. Just imagine if these people do not know how to read sign language. How can they harmoniously blend in the community? Imagine a parent who has a speechless child, how will they respond to each other’s needs if they do not know how to communicate accordingly? The second difficulty is reading symbols and signs. There are a lot of symbols and signs we see every day in our surroundings. One perfect example is the traffic signs. If we cannot read the traffic signs, imagine what would be like to drive or walk down the streets. We also see symbols in department stores like the symbols for escalator, elevator, comfort rooms, stairs, and ramps. If we cannot read these symbols, then it would be difficult for us to move around in a department store. There are also companies and businesses that use symbols for identification. For example, a check sign for Nike; mascot’s face for Jollibee; the yellow letter “M” for McDonald’s; three slanting lines for Adidas, and these are just to name a few. Symbols are important for these companies and businesses because it is not only for identification purposes but also for easy marketing of their products. With these symbols, people will be able to remember easily certain companies or products. That’s what we call “branding”. If people cannot read these symbols, then they would have difficulty identifying the genuine products from imitations. The third difficulty is reading numbers. When we were in our first grade in school, our teachers taught us how to read numbers by identifying the symbols together with their corresponding names. If we cannot match the words with the symbols of the numbers, then we will have difficulty in reading or identifying them. If we lack this skill, just imagine how we are going to transact money every day. In business, if we cannot read numbers then it would be very difficult to read financial statements. Knowing how to read numbers is vital because numbers are everywhere. The fourth difficulty is reading actions and facial expressions. People are fond of making faces in lieu of words. If we know how to read facial expressions and actions, then it would be easier to understand people. A simple grimace, we would know that a certain person is sad or angry. In this way, we would know how to approach the person in ways that he or she will not be offended. Sometimes people use actions to reinforce their words so that they would be able to convey their messages more clearly. With this, actions will be part of his or her messages. The fifth difficulty will be reading musical notes. If singers and composers do not know how to read musical notes then what kind of music we would have? With all the difficulties I have enumerated, we could truly say that reading is crucial. That is why schools give importance to teaching school children how to read because if this skill is mastered, children will have meaningful social relationships. Lastly, if only people have mastered the skill of reading then misunderstandings could be avoided and our world would be a better place to live in. Indeed, R-eading E-nds A-ll D-ifficulties.