Can we teach Reading Comprehension?
Yes, we can teach Reading Comprehension.
Actually, we must.
The big question is HOW?
In these posts I will not deal with theoretical aspects and principles regarding Higher-order and Lower-order Thinking Skills – Hots and Lots. I prefer to focus on practical tips illustrated by examples that can be quickly adapted to the class situation.
Reading is not a passive activity. It is an active dialogue between the reader and the text. There is a beautiful Chinese proverb that describes the reading process in a charming, poetic way.
"Not to let a word get in the way of its sentence,
nor to let a sentence get in the way of its intention,
but to send your mind out to meet the intention as a guest,
that is UNDERSTANDING."
The student's ability to comprehend a text cannot be developed and improved without explicit instruction. Hundreds or thousands of "Unseen Passages" may prove totally useless unless preceded by introduction of reading strategies followed by guided practice aimed at monitoring and supporting the students' progress. This process will gradually lead to successful, independent work.
In this section I intend to publish posts including teaching suggestions and texts based on 40 years experience teaching in Junior High, High School and College.
How do we teach Reading Comprehension at the Basic / Intermediate Level?
Choose an appropriate text.
The text should be short, relevant (geared to the age and interests of your students), not too difficult.
Define your objective: Basic understanding.
Find the main ideas. Shorten sentences: Find main clause.
first, secondly, in addition, moreover, also
but, however, in contrast to, yet, although, despite, in spite of
for example, for instance, such as
therefore, finally, in conclusion, as a result
- Distinguish between facts and opinion / interpretation.
- Understand the sequence of events.
How do we teach Reading Comprehension at the advanced level?
We assume that students already know the basic skills necessary to read and comprehend a text at the basic level. We can now move to to a deeper understanding of the text, to a more abstract level of analysis.
The following aspects of comprehension should be examined:
- How to read between and beyond the lines.
- How to identify the mood / the tone of the writer.
- How to distinguish between fact and fiction.
- How to detect bias or propaganda (Fake News?)
and that's all for today.
My next post will deal with a lesson plan focusing on Reading Comprehension.