Teach English in Yongxing Zhen - Wulanchabu Shi — Ulanqab

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Any language is basically a form of oral communication that has writing as its graphic embodiment. Native speakers will naturally first learn to speak and then, little by little, will relate the oral language to its respective written representation. As a receptive skill reading is not an act of speaking in itself but rather the reproduction of the thought that the author of the text expressed in writing. Hence reading is to look at written words and understand what they mean. Whether read aloud or quietly, it represents an individual effort in which we match our thought with what we can understand from the text. In this process we can either take our time to understand what is written or we can reread the text to fully grasp its meaning. In this paper I will focus on how to teach reading English at different levels, from beginners to advanced students. The following guidelines are a general theoretical approach to start and advance in learning to read in English and should be adapted according to the age of the students. The aim for the beginner student is to get used to the spelling of English words and their pronunciation. To do this, and in all cases, the teacher will first read out the words and ask the students to repeat. Absolute beginners will start learning the alphabet first. A second step will be to teach them to read words. First we will provide a list of monosyllabic words with some kind of similar spelling, for example ‘light’, ‘fight’, or ‘make’, take’, etc., the students will begin to recognize some kind of similar rhyming pattern with the same pronunciation. We will read to them and ask them to repeat in choral form, after which we will ask three students to read the list. The same procedure will then be applied with a random list of several basic words. For polysyllabic words we will apply the same method as above, but in this case we will introduce the concept of stressed and unstressed syllables. A third step will include the reading of simple phrases and sentences. Here rhythm and intonation are important and the key is for the students to understand the meaning of what they are reading. This often involves some kind of translation that gradually becomes useless to intermediate and advanced students as they become aware of the language and begin to think in English. Listening to and reading some nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill”, will help them get used to intonation and rhythm. We may encourage our students to make their own phonological transcription according to what they think the sounds they hear are like. For a low intermediate student the aim is advancing in their reading ability and consolidate what have previously learned. We will focus mainly on stressed and non-stressed words in a sentence so that they can start reading more naturally, fluently and accurately. At this level the students should read paragraphs and short adapted texts. The key is for the students to begin to understand the meaning of short texts and be able to read with rhythm and intonation. We will continue to introduce some lists of words, for example those with regular spellings and irregular pronunciation such as -ough in ‘cough’, ‘though’, etc. as well as the International Phonetic Alphabet applied to English language, and the concept of false friends, which are an important factor for a clear understanding of a sentence or a text. Graded books, to be read at home, should be used at this stage as a complement to the course book. We will continue to practice nursery rhymes for rhythm and intonation. At this stage students should be able to read more independently and wherever possible to deduce the meaning of words from the context, without looking them up in a dictionary. It is only when they come across unfamiliar and frequently repeated vocabulary that the use of the dictionary is indicated, as it is usually a key to understanding the text. Therefore, we should encourage our students to acquire the ability to understand texts without knowing every word. Upper intermediate students should be able to comprehend complex adapted texts, as well as use the International Phonetic Alphabet with ease. This will allow them to check the pronunciation of a word in a dictionary. The aim for advanced students is to understand the meaning of difficult texts, whether authentic or not. They may begin reading English for pleasure or for the purpose of increasing their vocabulary and grammar knowledge. Advanced students when reading on their own should be able to apply specialist skills such as scanning, skimming when reading a text in English. The use of authentic texts, novels or other specialized texts are indicated at this level. Much of what has been said above belongs to the study phase of an ESA lesson and here we will include reading, comprehension exercises, paraphrasing and summarizing the text. We can complete the lesson plan by introducing an engage phase, for example using the vocabulary of the text to be read later. Finally, the activate phase may include a brief discussion on the content of the text. Starting to read fluently takes time, so it is very important to build a good foundation of linguistic competence at the beginner and lower-intermediate levels. The following stages will reinforce their knowledge. Reading in class or at home will increase the students' receptive vocabulary and set the productive one. It will also help them fix the pronunciation and intonation of words and phrases. The development of this skill serves as a base for the brain to assimilate words and sentence structures, as well as to fix in the mind what is already known.