Some techniques in teaching reading comprehension to the second year students at HUBM

There is no doubt that the role of English in the life of any society in the world today has been becoming more and more important. The widespread need for English as an international language puts a considerable pressure on the education resources of any countries. In case of our country, since our government carried out the open door policy to attract foreign investment and co-operate with other countries, teaching and learning English has become necessary. Moreover, it is the English that is used as an effective medium of international communication. It is the language of trade, science, technology, tourism, sport, music and many other fields of life. That is the reason why at present, learning English is not only the interest but also the great and practical demand for many people, especially for student who always want to assess the modern world. Therefore, English is now taught as a compulsory subject to all students at university in our country. Understanding the importance of English, all students at HUBM have tried their best to gain the first objective to become the economists with good knowledge of English. Therefore, English has become one of the main subjects at this university. To master English, the students need to grasp all four skills that are closely related to one another: Listening, speaking, reading and writing. Among these skills, reading is an important one because it does not only help student develop other language skills, but also provides them knowledge on the target language. According to Byrne, “reading is an important way of expanding the students’ receptive knowledge of the language and in terms of classroom activities, it is an effective way of simulating students to talk and write”. As we read, we go back to the time, pass across the oceans and barriers of language, religions and cultures. Through reading, we can escape into the mind of a philosopher, observe with a scientist, stay with scholar, analyze with a critic and live through a novel or a play.

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PART 1: INTRODUCTION I.1. Reasons for the choice of the study There is no doubt that the role of English in the life of any society in the world today has been becoming more and more important. The widespread need for English as an international language puts a considerable pressure on the education resources of any countries. In case of our country, since our government carried out the open door policy to attract foreign investment and co-operate with other countries, teaching and learning English has become necessary. Moreover, it is the English that is used as an effective medium of international communication. It is the language of trade, science, technology, tourism, sport, music and many other fields of life. That is the reason why at present, learning English is not only the interest but also the great and practical demand for many people, especially for student who always want to assess the modern world. Therefore, English is now taught as a compulsory subject to all students at university in our country. Understanding the importance of English, all students at HUBM have tried their best to gain the first objective to become the economists with good knowledge of English. Therefore, English has become one of the main subjects at this university. To master English, the students need to grasp all four skills that are closely related to one another: Listening, speaking, reading and writing. Among these skills, reading is an important one because it does not only help student develop other language skills, but also provides them knowledge on the target language. According to Byrne, “reading is an important way of expanding the students’ receptive knowledge of the language and in terms of classroom activities, it is an effective way of simulating students to talk and write”. As we read, we go back to the time, pass across the oceans and barriers of language, religions and cultures. Through reading, we can escape into the mind of a philosopher, observe with a scientist, stay with scholar, analyze with a critic and live through a novel or a play. However, through the time of using the “English-File 3” to teach reading comprehension for the second year students of HUBM, I realize that both the teachers and the students still have difficulties in finding the effective way of teaching and learning the reading texts in this book. That is the reason why I choose the title “Some techniques in teaching reading comprehension to the second year students at HUBM” for my thesis. I.2. Aims of the study For the above mentioned reasons the main objectives of my thesis are: - To understand more fully the nature of reading and reaffirm the importance teaching and learning reading comprehension for the second year students at HUBM. - To investigate the real situation of the practical teaching and learning reading comprehension texts of the teachers and the students at this university and find out the positive factors and problems that affect the quality of teaching and learning reading comprehension texts for the second year students of the university. - To provide some suggested techniques to help the teachers and students of the university teach and learn reading comprehension in the “English file 3 Intermediate” course book more effectively. I.3. Methods of the study To bring in full presentation of the thesis, firstly, I spend time reading books and materials available on teaching reading to get knowledge of the subject. The main method used in this thesis is the quantitative one which consists of the following tasks: - Collecting data and information from the students and the teachers at HUBM to exchange the experience. - Assessing the real situation of learning and teaching reading comprehension of the second year students and teachers at HUBM. - Evaluating the techniques that best fit the teachers and the second year students at HUBM. Besides, this thesis is also carried out through a variety of methods such as class observation, informal interview and discussion with the teachers and students at HUBM. I.4. Scope of the study Teaching and learning reading comprehension is an immense study. Because of limitation of time, the study mainly focuses on some useful techniques that are used in teaching reading comprehension to the second year students at HUBM. Research on teaching at other levels would be beyond the scope of this thesis. I.5. Design of the study The thesis is divided into three parts: Part 1: Introduces the reason for the choice of the study, aims of the study as well as the scope and methodology of the study. Part 2: Comprises four chapters Chapter I presents an overview of the theoretical background of the research. It is concerned with various linguistic concepts most relevant to the research topic such as the nature of reading, classification of reading, the importance of reading, etc. Chapter II is a close look at present teaching and learning reading comprehension at HUBM. Chapter III shows the context, description of instruments, data collection and analyzes the results to draw the findings and recommendations. Chapter IV offers some suggested techniques to improve reading comprehension to the second year students at HUBM. Part 3: Summaries what is addressed in the study, presents recommendation for improvements and some suggestions for further research. part 2: development Chapter I. Literature review I.1. An overview on the Nature of reading. I.1.1.Definition of reading People, besides the activities of eating to live and to exist, also have a demand for reading to widen their minds. Only by reading a lot, can people grasp what is happening all over the world and get in touch with the civilization of mankind, because book is the quintessence of the historical development of mankind. Nowadays, with the explosion of information, reading has become more important. However, most people usually read naturally so that they can not give exact definition of reading. Each definition only can reflect some aspect of reading. Some people think that reading consists of two elements: the reader and the text. Nor they are all. In any mature act of reading there is also an interaction between the reader and, the writer. True reading, thus, involves a triangular interaction between the reader, the writer and the text. According to Carell Devine and Eskey (1988:13), “reading is a process in that it starts with linguistic surface representation encoded by a writer and ends with meaning, which reader constructs. There is, thus, an essential interaction between language and thought in reading. The writer encodes thought in language and the reader decodes language to thought”. In this definition, we can see clearly the interrelationship between the writer, the reader and the text. Moreover, Harmer (1983:153) also thought that “reading is an exercise dominated by the eyes and the brain. The eyes receive massages and the brain then has to work out the significance of those massages”. Sharing this opinion, William (1984:2) pointed out that “reading is a process whereby one looks at and understands what has been written”. It means that “merely reading aloud without understanding doesn’t count as reading”. However, Hafner and July (1982:4) did not think that understanding is known what the writer implied although they also mentioned the understanding between the author and the readers. According to their opinion, “reading involves the identification and recognition of printed and written symbols which serve as stimuli for the recall of meanings built up through past experiences and further construction of new meanings through the readers’ manipulation of relevant concepts already in his possession”. In brief, each person can have a different definition of reading and we can not tell which is better because each of them focuses on one important matter of reading. However, we find that there is a close relationship between reading and understanding. Therefore, being a language teacher, we must understand the nature of reading thoroughly to help our students read effectively. I.1.2 Reading comprehension If reading is simple mechanical movements of the eyes, reading comprehension includes mechanical and mental activities. In teaching reading, it is necessary for both teachers and students to have a deep understanding about the definition of reading comprehension. The students who study reading should evaluate continually what they are learning about the reading process in the light of their current definition of reading comprehension. Many people have done some research to define reading comprehension. Richard and Thomas (1987:143) state that “reading comprehension is a mental process that in the final analysis, only the reader fully understands. Comprehension is what simulates readers to remember their past experience. That knowledge is, then, used in trying to get meaning out of print. Meaning does not reside in the printed page but rather in the mind of the reader.” On the other hand, reading comprehension is best described as an understanding between the author and the reader. The emphasis is on the reader’s the printed page based on the individual’s unique background experience. Reading is much more than just pronouncing words correctly or simply knowing what the author intends. It is the process whereby the printed pages stimulate ideas, experiences and response that are unique to an individual. Moreover, Abbott (1981:82) gives out a research on the nature of reading comprehension. According to him “there are two broad aspects or levels. Firstly, there is basically visual task that of deciphering the marks on the page, the brain receiving signals from the eyes. Secondly, there is cognitive task that of interpreting the visual information, so one is not simply barking at point”. From these above ideas, we can understand that reading comprehension consists of two processes: perceiving and understanding. Perceiving process is one by which we can master all grammatical matters, pronunciation, and vocabulary in the text. Understanding a text means working in the text actively and extracting the required information efficiently. In conclusion, in reading comprehension, the reader not only reads written graphic forms in the text but also recognizes the intention of the writer. They are opinions and point of views which the writer had in mind when they wrote. Therefore, readers can master the structures, vocabulary presented in the real situations. I.2. Classification of Reading I.2.1. According to manner 1.2.1.1 Reading aloud Doff (1988:67) states that “reading aloud involves looking a text, understanding it and also saying it. Its’ purpose is not just to understand the text to convey the information to some one else”. In fact, it must be recognized that reading aloud is primarily an oral matter so that for those who teach and learn foreign languages, it is closer to “pronunciation” than it is to “comprehension”. While it is perfectly proper to try to develop the skill of reading aloud, it clearly can not be done using an unfamiliar text the content and language of which stretches the linguistic capabilities of the learners to the utmost. Therefore, it must be admitted that the usefulness of reading aloud is limited. First of all, “reading aloud is not an activity we engage in very often outside the classroom”. (Doff, 1988:67). Actually, in the daily life, few people are required to read aloud as a matter of daily routine, radio newscaters, clergymen, perhaps actors. To the huge majority, its importance is minimal. Secondly, “the readers is often merely mouthing meaningless language because of lack of rehearsal and time to comprehend what he has to read aloud” ( Abott and Wingard, 1981: 82). It means that when reading aloud, the readers’ attention is focused on the pronunciation, not on the understanding of the text. Moreover, in the classroom, only the reading student is active at a time, others are either not listening at all or listening to a bad model. In addition, some students’ speed of reading is very slow so it takes a lot of time in class. In short, reading aloud can be applied for those who begin learning a foreign language to establish the connection between sound and spelling. But for the second year students, their purpose of learning reading is more than connecting the pronunciation. They focus on understanding the text and doing comprehension exercises which can not be completed by reading aloud because asking a student to read aloud means that he may lack concentration on the meaning. He may read correctly but after that he will not be able to tell us what he has read. It is very difficult to read aloud and understand the text at the same time of reading. So reading aloud might be a good way to practise pronunciation. I.2.1.2. Silent reading It is obvious that by far the greatest amount of reading that is done in the world is silent. A reading room is silent room. Silent reading is the interpretation which is most likely for the term “reading”. It is perhaps the nearest approach to the essence of reading. Silent reading can be applied effectively to teaching and learning a reading comprehension text because reading a text silently helps students concentrate on understanding its meaning. In Doff’s opinion (1988:67), silent reading or reading for meaning “is the activity we normally engage in where we read books, newspapers, road signs, etc. It involves looking at sentences and understanding the message they convey, in other words, ‘making sense’ of a written text. ” According to Doff, we know that silent reading is of great help in developing reading skills. Students do not have to pay attention to the exact pronunciation of words, they will try their best to focus on the ideas of the texts. Therefore, they can cover the greatest possible amount of the text in a shortest possible time. Furthermore, through silent reading, students can all read at their own speed. If they do not understand the sentence or an idea, they can go back and read it again. So silent reading is a very effective in the reading comprehension process. Lewis and Hill (1985:110) find out that: “the simplest method of reading, frequently forgotten by language teachers is silent reading. It is the method we normally uses with our native language, and on the whole the quickest and most efficient”. However, the nature of silent reading skill is far from uniform. It varies according to the use to which it is being put. In sequence, the depth and detail of understanding, of comprehension increase as we go though the ways of doing silent reading. In all, silent reading is a useful technique in a reading comprehension process applied to students to exploit reading lessons and it is also a good way to help teachers control the class. I.2.2. According to purpose Efficient reading consists of clearly identifying the purposes in reading something. By doing so you know what you are looking for and can weed out potential distracting information. Certainly, different purposes require different kinds of reading skills. Therefore, according to the purposes, there are four main kinds of reading skills: skimming, scanning, extensive and intensive reading. I.2.2.1. Skimming Skimming differs from general rapid reading in that the readers go through the text extremely quickly, merely dipping into it or sampling it at various points. Skimming is the technique that is used widely in reading comprehension. Skimming may sometimes be the prerequisite of reading for full understanding. There are many definitions of skimming. Grellet (1981:19) states that “when skimming, we go through the reading material quickly in order to get the gist of it, to know how it is organized, or to get an idea of the tone or intention of the writer”. It means that the purpose of skimming is simply to see what a text is about. The reader skims in order to satisfy a very general curiosity about the text. According to Wood (1984:92), “skimming occurs when the reader looks quickly at the content page of a book, or at the chapter headings, subheading, etc. This is sometimes called previewing”. Therefore, the key that actually encourages learners to skim is to give them a series of texts and ask them to select appropriate titles from groups of ones. Moreover, in order to teach skimming effectively, the teacher should have the students read the beginning or end of a text or a paragraph because it may provide students with a statement relating to the topic. Skimming gives students the advantage of being able to predict the purpose of the passage, the main topic or message, or possibly some of the developing or supporting ideas. This gives them a “head start” as they embark on more focused reading. Skimming also helps student organize their thoughts and specify what information they can get from a book so that the subsequent reading will become more efficient. In conclusion, skimming is understood as a necessary technique for reading comprehension which enables readers to get the main points of the text without being concerned with the details. Therefore, skimming should be applied at the first stage of teaching reading to help student have an overview of what they are going to read. And it is sure that they will understand the whole text later. However, Skimming sometimes proves too difficult for younger learners, or beginners because they generally lack confidence and the knowledge of the language they are learning. I.2.2.2. Scanning Like skimming, scanning is also one of two most valuable reading strategies. However, scanning is far more limited than skimming since it only means retrieving what information is relevant to our purpose. Scanning occurs when a reader goes through a text very quickly in order to find a particular point of information. It is a useful skill worth cultivating for its own sake, if it has been cultivated systematically from the earliest point in the course at which it can be attempted, co- operative work on the study of texts can be greatly expected and made easy. Francois (1981:19) understands that “when scanning, we only try to locate specific information and often we do not even follow the linearity of the passage to do so. We simply let our eyes wander over the text until we find what we are looking for, whether it is a name, a date, or a less specific piece of information”. With the same opinion, Mabel states that “scanning is the speed technique that helps you locate a bit of specific information very rapidly. It could involve finding a name, date, place or statistic. Or it might involve identifying a general setting in a short story. Scanning is the technique you use when you read maps, charts, tables, or graphs. It is the main skill researchers use when they examine various sources to locate information about a specific topic”. Scanning requires two skills of the reader. One of them is that they recognize the specific type of word that identifies the item. The other is the use of a different eye movement pattern, vertical vision. Nearly all the background reading required for the presenting of a topic to the class by a group calls for proficiency in this type of reading. There is a great range of text suitable for scanning – indexes, dictionaries, maps, advertisements, labels, reference material, etc. In short, the key to scanning is to decide exactly what kind of information we can look for and where to find it. The purpose of scanning is to extract certain specific information without reading through the whole text. I.2.2.3. Extensive reading Extensive reading is a fluency activity, mainly involving general understanding. It provides valuable reinforcement of the language already presented and practiced in the class as well as giving students useful practice in inferrin

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