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    • #2067
      Beth Melia-Leigh
      Moderator
          @beth

          Taking into account everything covered in this unit, consider the following questions: 

          • Do you think you will approach your next reading lesson differently?
          • Is there anything you agree / disagree with from this unit?
          • Do you know or use other ways to approach a reading lesson?

          Try to also comment on your peers’ posts too.

        • #49398
          Robert Dailey
          Participant
              @robertd

              Do you think you will approach your next reading lesson differently?

              Yes! Asking learners to talk about how useful they found the suggested reading strategy was not something that I had thought about asking them to do before and I am also going to try out Scrivener´s Task-feedback circle. I also very much like the idea of asking learners to act out a story after reading – I can see them having a lot of fun with this!

              Is there anything you agree / disagree with from this unit?

              Early on in the unit it says that when learning an L2 many people forget to deploy the reading sub skills and strategies they automatically using when reading in their L1. I can´t really say now if I agree or disagree with this, but I do wonder how we know that that this the case.

              Do you know or use other ways to approach a reading lesson?

              In terms of materials, I have a book called Using Newspapers in the Classroom, by Paul Sanderson, which is full of good ideas connected with reading, like asking learners to shorten a long article to 50 words exactly. As this book points out, horoscopes, weather forecasts, photographs, ads etc also present loads of teaching opportunities.

              • #49671
                Aytaj Suleymanova
                Participant
                    @aytajs93

                    Hi Robert.

                    Nice idea about shortening the article to 50 words only. Might use this in future.

                    On the topic of deploying strategies from L1 when reading in L2, I would like to add that as a non-native English speaker, it used to be quite true for me. When given a text at an examination, instead of focusing on the information from the questions, I would read it as if I was doing an extensive reading type of text. And the reason was my fear of the new lexis and me thinking that I need to know at least 95 % of the words or at least guess them in order to do the tasks successfully. In my native language I would approach the text a little differently.

                    Have a nice day :)

                  • #49736
                    Nicholas Northall
                    Moderator
                        @nick-northall

                        Hi Robert,

                        Thanks for sharing here.

                        Aytaj makes a good point to support the idea about L2 readers not using L1 strategies. Essentially, it seems that L2 readers are unable to use L1 reading strategies because they are focusing on the lexis of the text they are reading – and so try to understand every word. This therefore means that teachers should encourage extensive reading (and here) to help their learners develop word recognition speed and therefore allow them to employ reading strategies when reading in the TL. We explore vocabulary in Unit 2, but it is certainly a massive factor in reading success (including taking exams).

                        I also like the idea of shortening a text to 50 words. I guess this also helps develop a range of skills; not just reading.

                        Cheers,

                        Nick

                    • #49670
                      Aytaj Suleymanova
                      Participant
                          @aytajs93

                          Hello everyone!

                          Here are my responses:

                          Do you think you will approach your next reading lesson differently?

                          I used to spend less time on reading thinking that SS need more time to practice other skills. All the active reading I have done in this unit brought up so many reasons as to why teaching reading skills and strategies is important to include in classroom time made me change my mind.

                          Is there anything you agree / disagree with from this unit?

                          After reading the 3 texts (from topic 6) I was left a little confused. They all seem to promote one pattern which is starting from the general going to more detailed and then a follow-up of some sort. Do those models actually have a substantial difference?

                          Do you know or use other ways of approaching a reading lesson?

                          I do like the information gap activity when SS are given 2 different texts and after reading them they tell each other what they read. It develops several skills and encourages student engagement.

                          • #49757
                            Nicholas Northall
                            Moderator
                                @nick-northall

                                Hi Aytaj,

                                Thanks for your post. I’m glad this unit has changed your mind about including reading in your lessons. I guess this lends itself to another question – what type of reading? I am a bit advocate of extensive reading (see my reply to Robert above) and have often asked students to simply read for most of a lesson; however, as you can imagine, this could potentially cause quite a few problems! I think the main thing is that when we include reading in our lessons we both teach and test reading!

                                Yes, the three approaches are very similar. Both Harmer and Scrivener suggest asking learners to fully complete the gist reading tasks before asking them to read in detail. They also stress the importance of background knowledge (i.e. top down approaches) to reading. Scrivener admits that this approach isn’t always necessary or useful (he gives the example of the train timetable) as often readers are looking for detailed information and don’t need to ‘gist’ read a text.  Nuttal discusses using both top-down and bottom-up strategies to read longer texts – i.e. perhaps ones not used in the classroom. This approach, I think, is quite different to the other two, as she implies that reading for gist and detail support each other. However, she does make it clear that not understand the main context can result in learners being unable to understand the detail. What do you think?

                                Yes, information gaps are great ways to develop a range of skills – not just reading. I think that it is almost impossible to have a ‘reading’ lesson in which learners only develop reading skills – unless of course, we just ask them, as soon as they enter the room, to open their books and read for the full lesson! There might be some listening in that though too!

                                Cheers,

                                Nick

                                 

                            • #49758
                              Erica
                              Participant
                                  @erica

                                  Hi Aytaj,

                                  I agree with what you said about approaching a text as a non-native English speaker. As a student I used to make a clear distinction between how to read texts in the classroom (or extensive reading – I read a lot of graded readers) and how to read for exams. In the former I would carry out a more analytical reading (or bottom-up approach), while in the latter I adopted specific strategies in order to avoid running out of time. So, I would read the questions first and then scan the text. Probably because the result (passing the exam) was more important than the process (understanding the whole text) – plus I knew there would be some unknown words in the exam and focusing on reading techniques just helped me to feel less frustrated and/or get bogged down in “obscure passages” that weren’t relevant to the questions. In other words, I always kept in mind the reason why I was reading a particular text.

                                   

                                  On a different note, I really liked your question on task 6 “Reading lessons” as I had exactly the same thought!

                                  I quote “After reading the 3 texts (from topic 6) I was left a little confused. They all seem to promote one pattern which is starting from the general going to more detailed and then a follow-up of some sort. Do those models actually have a substantial difference?”

                                  I think they all imply that we should move from “the general to the more detailed” so I wouldn’t say they differ in meaning but in the context, or their perspective.

                                  In my opinion, Scrivener’s Task Feedback Circle is designed from the teacher’s perspective – even if it can also benefit learners. It is useful to help teachers plan, design and evaluate their reading lessons as a whole through the tasks presented one at a time (Was it appropriate? was it clear?). I thus interpreted it as a reflective tool for teachers as well.

                                  Harmer’s text is more or less what I was taught during the CELTA. It says how a skill lesson should be scaffolded/ organised.

                                  Nuttal’s comment on “global or detailed study” is, for me, an analysis of how we read in general suggesting that we should design tasks that reflect this reading approach in order to facilitate reading – or “recreate” a natural reading even if the text is in another language.

                                  That’s my humble interpretation. Let me know your thoughts!

                                • #49759
                                  Nicholas Northall
                                  Moderator
                                      @nick-northall

                                      Dear Robert and Aytaj,

                                      Thanks for your posts here – what about the rest of you?!

                                      I have responded directly to you. Here are some further comments.

                                      Do you think you will approach your next reading lesson differently?
                                      It is great that you want to try new approaches to keep your learners engaged and motivated – even if you don’t currently teach EFL or if you aren’t allowed to make changes to your lessons! This is also important for us as teachers as we can get into the trap of doing the same thing week-in, week-out. Our lessons should also include both strategy and skills work and we should teach and test reading.

                                      Is there anything you agree / disagree with from this unit?
                                      Robert made a point about learners not using the same L1 reading strategies and skills in the TL. What does everyone else think? Aytaj found the three articles in Topic 6 to be quite similar. Again, what does everyone else think?

                                      Do you know or use other ways to approach a reading lesson?

                                      Summarising longer texts and using information gaps were both mentioned. These are both solid tasks as they help our learners to develop a range of language skills (not just reading!) as they complete them. Does anyone else want to share?

                                      Thanks for your contributions to this forum. If you haven’t yet posted, please do so.

                                      Cheers,

                                      Nick

                                       

                                    • #49762
                                      Erica
                                      Participant
                                          @erica

                                          Hi everybody,

                                          This is my contribution to the forum task on teaching reading:

                                          Do you think you will approach your next reading lesson differently?

                                          I found the articles about reading skills and reading strategies very interesting. I think I only mention “strategies” when I prepare students for exams so now, I would like to discuss reading strategies (not exam reading strategies) among general English students. I am also going to try out “reading aloud” as a post reading activity. I am currently teaching Beginners and I like the idea of asking them to decide a favourite line/sentence from the text and work out how to read it aloud (either trying to reproduce what they have heard when I read / or played the recording or guessing how it would sound).

                                          Is there anything you agree / disagree with from this unit?

                                          Nope

                                          Do you know or use other ways of approaching a reading lesson?

                                          I think I usually use type 2 as it is suggested by Harmer. However, I am also a supporter of extensive reading, and I sometimes do a flipped lesson where I assign one chapter of the same book. Students need to evaluate it, come up with a list of new words, or questions about grammar before the next lesson. Then, during the lesson they work in pairs and discuss their list (peer-support) and then we share comments as a class (now I may include questions like “What strategies did you use to overcome obstacles like unknown words or unclear grammatical structures?”).

                                          PS: I like both gap information exercises and summarise the text in 5o words! I would like to try jigsaw reading too – sounds fun!

                                        • #49807
                                          Robert Dailey
                                          Participant
                                              @robertd

                                              Hello everyone,

                                              The comments about deploying strategies from L1 when reading in L2 are really interesting. I can read Spanish fairly well as my L2 and I guess it´s lack of vocabulary and/or a doubt about a structure (like e.g. the subjunctive) that certainly slows me down.

                                              Erica I really like the idea you mention about reading aloud and asking Ls to decide on their favourite line/sentence from the text. I´m going to try that out this week.

                                              Like Erica I found the discussion about skills and strategies very interesting and for my own understanding I´ve tried to summarise some of what I read last week in a couple of paragraphs below. I would be grateful for any comments: if you agree or think I´m way off or something in between please could you let me know?

                                              1. There is a difference between reading skills and reading strategies. By employing deliberate, conscious, problem-orientated strategies Ls can acquire automatic, unconscious reading skills. (Afflerbach et al. = automatic v non-automatic control and intention is a key difference between strategy and skill). First comes the strategy, then the skill.

                                              2. As teachers, we can apply a skills or strategy approach to teaching reading (while perhaps recognizing what Thornbury says about it being the readers´s lack of language knowledge (vocab and grammar) that makes reading difficult because of problems “unpacking” sentences/ identifying ways that sentences are connected). A strategic approach in centred around bottom-up processing and is perhaps more suitable for lower level Ls in terms of what we teach in the classroom, although more proficient readers might employ strategies when faced with a difficult text. A skills approach is centred around top-down processing and is perhaps more suitable for higher-level learners.

                                              Thanks for any comments!

                                               

                                               

                                            • #49848
                                              Erica
                                              Participant
                                                  @erica

                                                  Hi Robert,

                                                  Thanks for sharing your own notes. I would like to share my own ones as well by commenting on yours. The comments in bold are mine.

                                                  1. There is a difference between reading skills and reading strategies. By employing deliberate, conscious, problem-orientated strategies Ls can acquire automatic, unconscious reading skills. I agree with your definitions. (Afflerbach et al. = automatic v non-automatic control and intention is a key difference between strategy and skill). First comes the strategy, then the skill.That’s also true especially considering the fact that there was a time when we all had to learn how to read (childhood) in our L1. For this reason, I also believe that when it comes to teaching (how to read in) a second language is also good to know the level of literacy of the students as some of them may not even have the “expected” (reading) (sub)skills – according to their age – that could support their learning (how to read in) a L2 (especially relevant in ESOL). On the other hand, when students are known to possess good reading skills in their own L1 (and/or literacy), it is important to teach (or help to notice) how to transfer those same skills when they read in a L2 (Scrivener made a point here when he suggested that reading tasks should closely reflect what students might need to do in real life as readers). And then teach them “new” strategies – or strategies they need- to support their comprehension of the text and develop subskills to become fluent readers (improve reading speed, recognised layout of the text to predict content- activate schemata- engage with the text). It goes without saying that each level of English requires different reading skills (and knowledge) and thus students are expected to have, or to learn during the course, specific reading skills according to the level they are studying at (especially valid in exam prep classes and in academic/business English)

                                                  2. As teachers, we can apply a skills or strategy approach to teaching reading (while perhaps recognizing what Thornbury says about it being the readers´s lack of language knowledge (vocab and grammar) that makes reading difficult because of problems “unpacking” sentences/ identifying ways that sentences are connected). You said that you are a fluent Spanish speaker, but you cannot read in Spanish fluently as your vocabulary is somehow narrow and you have problem recognising structures (subjunctive). You aren’t obviously a beginner student of Spanish, and you certainly have great reading skills in your L1, but still, you may need to adopt certain reading strategies like bottom-up to support and enhance your reading skills in your L2. Harmer mentioned “analytical reading” that, I believe, can be seen as still belonging to the bottom-up approach even if it sounds less “low level” and more “high level”.

                                                  A strategic approach in centred around bottom-up processing and is perhaps more suitable for lower level Ls in terms of what we teach in the classroom, although more proficient readers might employ strategies when faced with a difficult text.  Agree and see my comment above.

                                                  A skills approach is centred around top-down processing and is perhaps more suitable for higher-level learners. Partly agree, I think you could also use this approach with low levels. When asking gist questions, you require the students to get the general idea using a top-down approach that could also be supported by “prediction exercises” using pictures or headlines/titles and/or a lead-in that would activate the schemata of the students in relation to the topic of the text = kind of contextualising the text. I think top-down approach shouldn’t be used when the students are still at the stage of simple sound and words recognition (phonics) and /or you are teaching pre-literate students = the focus is to literally teach them how to read = how to sound and recognise words).

                                                  Both Nuttal and Harmer suggest that when students move beyond simple words and sound recognition, and/or they deal with long texts (definitely higher level and/or more proficient readers here) bottom-up and top-down approaches should be seen as interacting and supporting each other. You called bottom-up processing a strategic approach while you define top-down processing as a skill approach, can they be both skills and strategies according to the use you make of them while reading / teaching reading? I am also more tempted to define bottom-up as a strategy, but still can it function as a skill as well? 

                                                  Think about yourself as a student of Spanish, wouldn’t you use both processes to overcome your own difficulties? Bottom-up may help you learn/notice more structures and vocabulary, but couldn’t it be possible that certain topics/ types of texts require the use of subjunctive more often than others? Could a prediction activity help you to anticipate possible and relevant vocabulary/structures in the text? or support the guessing of the meaning of unknown words after having contextualised the text and activated your previous knowledge of the topic?

                                                   

                                                  Let me know your thoughts!!!

                                                  • #50133
                                                    Robert Dailey
                                                    Participant
                                                        @robertd

                                                        Hi Erica,

                                                        Just coming back to you about your question below:

                                                        You called bottom-up processing a strategic approach while you define top-down processing as a skill approach, can they be both skills and strategies according to the use you make of them while reading / teaching reading? I am also more tempted to define bottom-up as a strategy, but still can it function as a skill as well? 

                                                        I guess that I see (perhaps incorrectly) a logical connection with bottom down + strategy and top-down + skills because I connect (again, perhaps incorrectly) the former with lower-level learners and the latter with higher-level  learners. Perhaps a (sub) skill, like for example, identifying discourse markers, could be a strategy if a L needed to develop in this area (and was not, therefore, skilled in it.) Perhaps a bottom-up processing task like decoding letters and grammatical structures could become a skill when it becomes automatic. Would you see this in this way?

                                                        I hope this answers your question – and have a great weekend!

                                                        Robert

                                                      • #50187
                                                        Nicholas Northall
                                                        Moderator
                                                            @nick-northall

                                                            Hi Robert and Erica,

                                                            Thanks for posting a very interesting discussion. As a Delta tutor, it’s great to see course participants engaging with the topic, sharing their ideas and opinions and inspiring thought.

                                                            In terms of bottom-up and top-down, I personally think both can be strategies and skills. Lower level learners, fluent readers in their L1, may be able to employ both bottom-up and top-down if the text is sufficiently simply (i.e. in terms of their knowledge of the TL). For me, employing top-down processing involves activating not only language but also world knowledge. This means that all adult learners will have experience of the world which they may be able to bring to their reading – no matter their L2 ability; something which perhaps we forget as language ability can be confused with world knowledge. However, YLs (at any level) may struggle to employ  top-down strategies due perhaps to their knowledge of the world. It reminds me of adult students I have worked with who do not know much about areas I assumed they would: e.g. a student having no idea about ‘rock music’ and another student who had never heard of Saddam Hussein.

                                                            Cheers,

                                                            Nick

                                                        • #49858
                                                          Robert Dailey
                                                          Participant
                                                              @robertd

                                                              Hi Erica,

                                                              Thanks a lot for your comments and I think the point you made in referencing Scrivener: noting that reading tasks should reflect what students might need to do in real life as readers, is a very relevant one. Also what you say about “analytical reading” (Harmer) is very interesting. From memory I think analytical reading was about essentially parsing texts. This is similar to an activity that Thornbury mentions and this leads me to wonder if we miss a trick when we don´t do this.

                                                              I see what you say about also using a top down approach at lower levels and yes I think you´re right.

                                                              I like the questions you ask below and I´ll give it some more thought!

                                                              You called bottom-up processing a strategic approach while you define top-down processing as a skill approach, can they be both skills and strategies according to the use you make of them while reading / teaching reading? I am also more tempted to define bottom-up as a strategy, but still can it function as a skill as well? 

                                                              Thanks again for responding and have a great evening!

                                                            • #50147
                                                              Andrew Burke
                                                              Participant
                                                                  @andrew

                                                                  Do you think you will approach your next reading lesson differently

                                                                  This unit helped me to understand reading activities in course books better; why reading lessons are set out as they are. Perhaps at times I have seen some pre and post reading activities and been unaware of their purpose, I think now when I see them I can think, ah yes, this is relevant because…..

                                                                  The unit highlighted how some things that I’m already doing are relevant; for example, I’m a big fan of getting students to ‘notice’ grammar structures we have previously studied.

                                                                  It’s easy to get lazy with reading when you use a course book, when it’s done for you. So, not sure I’ll do anything different but, as already mentioned, be more aware of the purpose of reading strategies.

                                                                  I liked the idea of mixing top down and bottom up activities, that these don’t need to be linear. So perhaps I’ll mix things up a little more with more confidence. Come at the reading from various angles.

                                                                  Is there anything you agree / disagree with from this unit?

                                                                  What struck me most from the reading in this unit is the idea that students should already have skills and strategies from their L1 and that issues with reading often come from a lack of vocabulary and grammatical knowledge in the language being taught. So again, I would say I will start to notice this element more in the texts studied.

                                                                  Do you know or use other ways of approaching a reading lessons?

                                                                  No.

                                                                   

                                                                  • #50188
                                                                    Nicholas Northall
                                                                    Moderator
                                                                        @nick-northall

                                                                        Hi Andrew,

                                                                        Thanks for sharing. I completely agree with your final point – there has been a lot of research into successful reading  and an important factor (especially for university students) appears to be lack vocabulary knowledge – although  some argue that reading strategies are also important.

                                                                        So from a quick scan of recent research, we really want our learners to be learning vocabulary and the ability to use effective reading strategies – both should develop reading skills!

                                                                        Cheers,

                                                                        Nick

                                                                    • #50502
                                                                      Peter Wilson
                                                                      Participant
                                                                          @peterw

                                                                          Hi all, sorry for my delayed response, there was a delay in me getting hold of the core reading texts. I’ve enjoyed catching up with everyone’s thoughts. In terms of my practice: 1) Do you think you will approach your next reading lesson differently? Yes I think I will try out the Scrivener Task Feedback Circle as I am not too familiar and have used the Harmer model a lot more as I too was taught this on my CELTA so I’ve used it loads and think it’s  really effective. 2) Is there anything you agree / disagree with from this unit? I guess I agree with Nutall in that you need a bit of both top down and bottom up for successful reading and understanding of texts. I definitely think activating world knowledge as part of top down schematic approach is very important. 3) Do you know or use other ways to approach a reading lesson? Not really but I do love a jigsaw (If I can get the learners not to cheat and just show each other their answers) reading and of course the old classic – a RUNNING DICTATION  – great for interactive reading lessons –  and can focus on top down or bottom up skills or language-focussed tasks, again, assuming they don’t cheat (no phones!)

                                                                          • #50611
                                                                            Nicholas Northall
                                                                            Moderator
                                                                                @nick-northall

                                                                                Hi Peter,

                                                                                Thanks for sharing your ideas. I hope you’re enjoying reading the core texts. I think they’ll all very readable. I particularly like the Lightbown and Spada book:).

                                                                                I absolutely love running dictations. They are my go to task if I have to cover a class or if I want to make a good first impression with a group of learners – or teachers during a workshop! They are a great way to make even boring text interesting. And they ensure that all four skills are practised:).

                                                                                Cheers,

                                                                                Nick

                                                                            • #50510
                                                                              Iroda Saydazimova
                                                                              Participant
                                                                                  @iroda

                                                                                  1. Do you think you will approach your next reading lesson differently?

                                                                                  Having read the articles and book sections recommended in this unit, I have realized that I will be focusing on the reading strategies in my lessons, especially in my IELTS exam preparation classes. These students usually have a solid intermediate level; they generally understand academic passages. However, they struggle when it comes to specific question types (e.g. True/False/Not Given or Matching headings) or time management. Thus, I intend to focus on the strategies for approaching some question types and do some guided practice. If we keep practising these strategies, maybe it will become a skill over time.

                                                                                  2. Is there anything you agree / disagree with from this unit?

                                                                                  I agree that it is easier for higher-level students to interrogate texts and it can be used for critical thinking (Harmer, 2015). Often, when students at the university level read some passages in seminars, they tend to favour activities that question the information in the texts. They are usually more engaged in tasks that require building arguments for and against the author’s views and claims. In my workplace, we encourage them to refer to the university library database and find sources to support their arguments.

                                                                                  Besides, I support Harmer’s (2015) suggestion that giving students an opportunity to discover the meaning of vocabulary they have found difficult makes sense; and it can be practical as long as some limits regarding time, word/phrase and meaning consensus are set. I feel that it will teach them to be more autonomous and this method can save time. More importantly, the words that students do not know would be purposefully addressed from the text.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  3. Do you know or use other ways to approach a reading lesson?

                                                                                  To get my students to read a text, I use Type and Type 2 tasks (Harmer, 2015); and I usually start with a lead-in to activate the students’ schemata. It is almost like a ritual.

                                                                                  I also feel like I implement ‘testing approach’ (Thornbury, 2006) in my reading classes (for exam prep) quite frequently. Because what matters most in IELTS prep class is the number of correct answers for students.

                                                                                  At university, I also task students to summarize the passages. Normally, having skimmed and scanned a text for its main idea and details, I get my students to focus on every paragraph and identify the main points; they also choose arguments and develop their position (agree or disagree); this is a post-reading stage. As homework, they would be expected to write a summary. That’s jsu another way to check students’ comprehension of the text too. Plus, I guess it increases their engagement with the reading.

                                                                                  • #50613
                                                                                    Nicholas Northall
                                                                                    Moderator
                                                                                        @nick-northall

                                                                                        Hi Iroda,

                                                                                        Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

                                                                                        It seems you do a lot of reading practice with your learners incorporating a range of different approaches (and skills and strategies) into your lessons.

                                                                                        I think summary tasks are, as you say, a great way for students to engage with texts. It is definitely a great way to check comprehension, practise writing and possibly increase language knowledge. And… it prepares them for the IELTS summary writing task which often appears on the reading test!

                                                                                        Cheers,

                                                                                        Nick

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