Be strategic to teach reading and writing skills-Nothing else!

Developing reading skills

Reading extensively inside and outside classrooms helps to improve the learners' reading skills.When preparing a lesson plan, teachers need to think that learners want various skills at different ages and competency levels. Teachers should use learner-related contexts whenever possible, as this will help them motivate students to read.  Some of your learners have complained that reading is boring and they do not want to read the texts you have given them - what should you do? Choose the same types of texts that learners enjoy reading outside the classroom and design motivating pre-reading  and post-reading tasks to go with them. They would probably enjoy doing the reading task as they are acquainted with it already. After relieving their boredom, you could introduce academic reading comrehension, poetry or prose.

Basically reading can be of two types: extensive and intensive,  and the idea is to impart some skills needed for both. Teaching reading skills could be easy when taught with nuances and strategies with continuous practice. Reading skills become boring for many when they are not given the correct strategies.  In a classroom structure, students  use reading for different purposes; it may be instructions, to do lists, course books, blogs, websites, newspapers and magazines. Here the question is how to develop their reading skill in the above structure? There are six strategies to be taught to the students for enhancing their reading capabilities in different contexts.The below six techniques are step by step procedures essential for effective reading

Prediction 

Prediction is a preparation task by guessing the genre of the text before reading it. Use titles, subtitles and  pictures to find out what the text is broadly about (using also previous knowledge and experience). The teacher could set up preparation tasks by setting up general questions to get acquainted with the lesson or passage to be worked with. 

Skimming

Skimming is a fast reading process to get  the general information of a passage. During skimming, ask your students to underline the nouns, starters and conjunctions in order to make it easy to pick out the general idea and concepts.

Scanning:

Scanning is done for grabbing the specific information of the passage. Here the students ought to be taught the nuances of picking up specific information to underline the text for picking up dates, years, names, important vocabulary etc. You read your marked highlights in the text to search for your answers. For example, If your learners are reading a museum website just in order to find out how much the entrance fee is, they could use this scanning strategy.

Cohesive devices

Look for connectors and starters like 'on the other hand',' in spite' and 'even though', where the writer wants to take the text in a different direction.

Guessing the meaning of vocabulary

Having read an article, your intermediate-level learners have found some words that they don’t understand. In this situation, ask learners to think about the linguistic context of each word. Ask them to use the words or vocabulary before and after the text to get clues about the meaning of new words.
 

Intensive Reading

 You take time to read a text carefully to find out the authors perpective, to search for abstract concepts, to find out hidden answers, and to synthesize the text as a whole. This type of reading comes easily after constant practice of all the above strategies put together. 

Developing Writing skills

When you prepare writing activities, consider how to make them as meaningful as possible. You can do this by thinking about audience, context and purpose. This could be a task for young learners, such as writing a story, or for adult learners writing about their ambitions.Very often in the classroom, it’s easy to ask learners to do a task from the syllabus or coursebook without thinking about the above three. Try making it a regular feature of any writing task in future - that you identify context, purpose and audience before they begin the task. You could identify them all together, or learners could even decide themselves. Whichever way you try, it should make the writing more meaningful.

  1. Writing can be fun - consider topics your learners enjoy.
  2. Writing sometimes needs a lot of planning, and sometimes none at all.
  3. Learners need opportunities to write freely without worrying about accuracy.
  4. Writing can be varied - there are many different kinds of writing!

Generally to develop fluency in writing the writer has to concentrate and practice the various skills as follows;

Planning ideas logically

Planning carefully helps learners arrange text in a logical sequence, that flows well and is easy to read. The beginning should feel like the start of a text that gets readers interested. Each ‘piece’ of text should lead naturally into the next one. And of course the end should feel like it finishes it all.

Writing accurately

When writing is done concisely, it means the most effective words are being used. Writers often fill sentences with words that are poor choices and can be removed or replaced. By getting feedback, editing and revisiting their writing after a day or two, learners can develop skills to notice words that shouldn’t be in the text.

Paragraphing

Using paragraphs effectively helps readers follow a piece of writing. In general, each paragraph should have its own idea. A big block of text without paragraphs can leave readers confused and annoyed. If sentences are thrown together without linking words or phrases, the paragraphs are difficult to read. As sentences need to be linked within paragraphs, paragraphs also need to be linked. When a reader moves from one paragraph to another, if the link is not obvious, words and phrases can be used to help with the transition.

There are many types of activities such as grammar, vocabulary, coherance and cohesion in framing sentences that you can do to help learners work on writing skills. Some activities may focus on the accuracy of their language, and some on helping them to communicate the meaning. Others may focus on the writing process itself - learning how to start a writing task, how to draft, edit and review it.

References:

Farrell, T (2008) Teaching Reading to English Language Learners: A reflective guide. Corwin Press. Grellet, F (1987) Developing Reading Skills. Cambridge University Press. Nation, I (2008) Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing. Routledge. Nuttall, C (2005) Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language. Macmillan. Osborn, A (2012) Reading B1+. Collins

Hadfield, J. and C. (2001) Simple Writing Activities. Oxford University Press. Nation, I. (2009) Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing. Routledge. Palmer, G. (2004) Writing Extra: A resource book of multi-level skills activities. Cambridge University Press. Scrivener, J. (2011) Learning Teaching. Macmillan. Sokolik, M. (2012) 50 Ways to Teach Them Writing: Tips for ESL/EFL teachers. Wayzgoose Press. h

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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