Viable reading strategies How to approach the reading text?
Almost a decade ago, when I started my teaching career, I was not experienced much on instructing the students in their reading texts. However, I had learnt several teaching methods, techniques and approaches in my academic life. Since then, I have been devoting myself in search of the viable strategies that will strengthen the readers’ ability. In my experience, as compared to the other texts, reading always seems relatively quite tougher in exam. Consequently, many students are supposedly found either leaving the text or bothering much with it.
Here my main concern goes to facilitate the readers rather than review the teaching reading methodologies. Although the ways of approaching the reading text varies reader to reader, there are some basic strategies that must be applied. But from the time I started my teaching career, I have found that many readers are still ignorance about them. Even the school and college students aren’t instructed much either. Because many teachers are still today teaching their students in the same way how they were used to be taught. Though most of them are broadened with a number of various techniques and methods, perhaps, they have not created their own strategies by over viewing them all. So we need to consider whether these techniques are sufficient enough for enabling the students’ reading skills or not. Although much has been written in different ELT methods and approaches about the importance of teaching reading techniques, very few have become applicable in the real life situation. In some respect, they have even been fruitless researches
for the purpose of increasing reading skills. Even today students are mostly taught how to be familiar with the texts rather than approach them easily.
Due to such trend, many readers aren’t as efficient as they would be. It shows that there is a great concern in Nepal about the declining standards of reading skills in schools and colleges. Indeed, the development of reading skills has far-reaching effects on general intellectual development. And thus, anything which impedes the development of reading skills is a serious matter for us all. So, my hunt is on for the search of the viable strategies that’ll help the readers to approach the text comfortably.
The fact is that the purpose of our reading-whether we are reading for pleasure or message, determines the selection of reading techniques. So, if we’re reading for message, we have to be actively involved to get the meaning out. For this, silent reading is a must. Because experiments have proved that more comprehension is achieved only through it. However, reading can be done loudly. But I don’t think it is as applicable as the silent one because it divides our attention between reading and speaking. Therefore, amazingly there is virtually no empirical evidence to support the use of loud reading in exam.
Here, even if we are able to read aloud fluently, we may not able to understand much of it: this is called ‘barking at text’. And we are said to ‘bark’ at a text when we have difficulty assessing its meaning. Our main concern is to develop not only the ability to recognize words, but the skills necessary to understand what these words mean. In
order to learn how to comprehend, it is better to practice making our own meaning in response to text. Therefore, we need to have our innate powers of imagination trained. Moreover, the habit of practicing much in paraphrasing and locating paraphrase in the text is highly appreciated.
It’ll be our great mistake if we start reading the text first without having any reasons to read. Because efficient readers always predict what they are going to read. Thus, we need to hypothesize what the text intends to convey. Similarly, to find the text relatively easy, it is wise to think along with the writer will. Furthermore, focusing much on both introductory and conclusion paragraphs is also considered as an important reading strategy as they contain the main ideas of the text.
While finding the topic sentences or central ideas or headings we should not read the text thoroughly. Because sketching a mental note of the main idea(s) in each paragraph is considered as an important reading skill. Therefore, it is a good idea to check the first sentence, but not the first line of each paragraph. If the theme isn’t found within the sentence, then we need to move on the second and the last sentence respectively. It is because the assumption that every writer very often mentions their central ideas either within the first two sentences or the last sentence of the paragraph.
When searching the
specific information, we need to scan the text quickly. Because scanning helps us retrieve what information is relevant to our purpose. We don’t need to understand the rest of text while locating a particular piece of information.
Finally, to develop
our reading habits, it is worthwhile to use all
types of authentic and non-authentic texts. For this,
we have to use a variety
of reading materials
including newspapers, magazines, periodicals, novels, poems, stories and so on. But mind it that the materials what we use largely depend on our level and the purpose of our reading. And thus, we must learn that ‘how we read’ depends on ‘why’ and ‘what’ we read.