Teach English in LonggAng Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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Many teachers are puzzled about teaching reading. Some give the task “read and answer”, other believe that translating into L1 cannot be ignored. So how reading should be taught to improve students’ performance in this skill? The key point lies in three major strategies should be practiced while lessons. These are identifying the meaning of the words from the context, skimming and scanning. Getting the meaning from the context is essential as passages contain a great variety of vocabulary and the higher level is the more unknown or specific lexis is. It is obvious that a student is not able to learn all words; therefore, the given strategy should be explained and practiced at reading lessons to think about the meaning of unfamiliar words by following the next series of stages: Step1. Rereading and reading ahead. It is important to stop and reread the words that come before and after the unfamiliar vocabulary. Step2. Identifying context clues. Students should be taught to think about the meanings of the words that surround unknown one. Step3. Deciding on a meaning. Using what is clear from the context to make an educated guess is another thing that learners should practice. Step4. As the final step, learners should check if the decided meaning makes sense in relation to the main idea of the sentence/text. All the given steps could be presented via the next silly sentences: “After dinner, I was so moozled from the day’s busy activities that I fell asleep two hours before my bedtime. I woke up feeling very hungry the next morning and sebberly ate breakfast.” The students have to work in pairs and identify the meaning of the bold words going through all mentioned stages and finally they have to replace them with the made-up words with the real ones. A teacher should demonstrate the first sentence and then pairs should do the other one. Skimming A native speaker in any language can unconsciously read up to 1000-1500 words in a minute. Therefore, speed-reading is another key strategy that has to be developed while language preparation course. Skimming is reading a text quickly to get a general idea of the text. It is important that learners understand that there is no need to read every words when skimming, so it should be set as a timed task (1-3 minutes depending on the level and the text) One popular task on skimming connected to comparing predictions about the text with its information. Also skimming could be improved by reading the text in 2-3 minutes and matching with the appropriate heading, summary, etc. Besides this, some questions might be asked e.g. “Does the text contain more problems or effects? Another possible way to improve reading quickly is to use special application that has disappearing passages at different speed with some questions that come after. This will force students to read quickly and pay attention to only nouns, verbs, adjectives. Scanning Along with skimming, scanning technique should be taught. It is reading a text quickly in order to find specific information, e.g. figures or names. By training students to scan the page, to look for key words, they learn to group specific words together and quickly identify the words. It also allows students to read questions carefully and know how to look back in the text quickly to find an answer. A good example of scanning activity is “running race”. A teacher prepares a certain number of questions on the text they have already skimmed. Students are put into pairs with the copy of the text in front of them. A teacher has to cut questions for each pair. A runner comes and goes back to a partner to find an answer and comes back to a teacher. If learners are correct, a teacher gives them question number, and so on until a group has answered all questions. Another scanning activity is “a word race”. Students are shown the word on the board and they have to scan the text and find it. When students find a word, they have to stand up. To sum up, reading is supposed to be one of the challenging skill to acquire for most of language learners especially for exam takers. If teachers demonstrate how to use the mentioned strategies, it might increase their confidence, speed-reading and attention. The main thing is not only test students, but also guide them and improve strategies every lesson.