英语----Practical Ideas of the English Reading Comprehension for the middle School students

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Abstract
Reading is the main way for students to learn English. But in middle school, a lot of problems still exist in the English reading comprehension. Reading is an important way of the students to study English well. It is a basic skill for a student, so students are asked to read them with a certain speed. To do this, students should change their bad reading habit and raise reading speed. For students, it is difficult for us to do English reading comprehension. In the exam, the student do not have enough time to finish the test, because reading is one of the main difficulties experienced by students. Therefore, it is essential to read both speedily and effectively. This thesis will tell us how to improve the English reading efficiency. So long as we read the thesis carefully, I believe that our ability of reading comprehension will go up to a new stage.
 

                   
 

Main Headings of the Project Report
1. Introduction 3
2. Problem Analysis 3
2.1 Problem 4
2.2 Project Objective 9
2.3 Cause Analysis 9
2.4Project Rationale 9
3. Project Design 9
3.1 Subjects 9
3.2 Procedure 9
3.3 Principles to follow 9
3.4 Techniques for Data Collection 10
4. Project Implementation 10
4.1 Skimming and Scanning 104.2The author’s viewpoint………………………………………………………………….10
4.3The structure of the passage 10
4.4The structure of paragraphs………………………………………………………………11
4.5 Students' Anticipation……………………………………………………………………11
4.6 Punctuation………………………………………………………………………………11
5. Data Analysis 12
5.1Question : The survey of reading comprehension 12
6.Conclusion 13
Reference 13
Appendix:
       A. Questionnaire 1 for problem analysis
 
 

Understanding the theory
 

1. Introduction

As we know, reading comprehension is very important in the whole test. Some people say, reading comprehension’s marks, to some extent, may determine one’s own success or failure in exams. Therefore, as long as we master the reading skills, and improve the reading efficiency, our exams will succeed.
 

2. Problem Analysis

What is reading comprehension? It refers to a person’s ability to understand what has been read. It includes full awareness and knowledge of the meaning of the reading speed. However, the degree of understanding depends on many factors, such as the nature of the reading task, the clarity of its expression, the reader’s purpose, interest and motivation, and his culture background knowledge and past experience. Surely, there are many factors affecting reading comprehension. The main problems could be summarized as such:
1. Mental translation from English to Chinese. Many middle school students have had habits while reading, such as, vocalization, word for word and so on. Especially mental translation from English to Chinese are often used to decoding printed symbols through the mental process of translation from English into when it comes to comprehending the meaning of a text. This kind of the mental transfer plus insufficient eye movement not only slows down their reading speed but also makes information-processing more difficult.
2.Teacher-centered teaching in reading In China’s pedagogical circumstances, it is a truism to say that the teacher is the authority in the classroom and main source of English, providing input, models and assessment tools. Naturally, the traditional way of teaching is teacher-centered. In the reading class, the teacher first gives reading material to the students, guides them in detailed studies of the new words, grammar and sentence structure, and finally helps them do exercises. What the students have to do is to listen to teacher and follow his mode of thinking and understanding. There is seldom any chance for them to do reading independently; they cannot have a thorough understanding of the whole text and don’t come to know the author’s point of view.
3. Inadequate background knowledge of English. Middle school students are more accustomed to reading in Chinese than in English. As a result, they know a lot about Chinese culture and very little about the background of English-speaking countries and this situation sometimes affects their reading comprehension and hinders the guessing or predicting ability necessary to pick up the correct cues.
4. Reading practice is limited. We learn to read by reading. That is to say, high reading comprehension only results from wide and broad reading. The students cannot get appropriate and sufficient reading materials to read, and they spend little time in reading out of class, since they have many other courses that require attention.
5. Lack of training in reading comprehension skills. While reading, some students are simple satisfied with recognizing and looking up the words or finding the answers to the comprehension questions. They seldom try to attack the text with different reading skills. Teachers often do not play enough attention to teaching these reading skills. To some extent, this exacerbates the problems of reading comprehension.
Solution to the Problem
Since there are a variety of factors influencing students’ reading comprehension, we could do well to find the “keys” to unlock these “doors”. Some main solutions will be discussed here.3. Possible Solutions
Since there are a variety of factors influencing students’ reading comprehension, we could do well to find the “keys” to unlock these “doors”. Some main solutions will be discussed here.
A.     Promoting efficient and proper reading habits
Many students complain that their reading time is limited. The teacher should help them to properly arrange their reading time. For best results students should spend half an hour every day doing extra reading. The teacher may also help students keep a record of how much time they spend in reading and how many pages they read every day.
The teacher may assign some additional reading tasks for students to do after class, but this seems to be more compulsory rather than voluntary. Needing to read books, for study or other purposes is an incentive for everybody. Therefore, it is very important to help students develop a real appetite for reading and encourage them to read every day.
For post-class reading it would be better to offer the students short reading materials or reading cards. Students need short reading materials that they can finish quickly without a sense of strain and without getting bored.                                                  
B.     Cooperation activities for reading
  “Cooperative learning structures can be used to prepare students for reading by helping them to relate prior experiences to the theme, to make predictions about the text, to get the most from the text when reading, and to respond to the text when reading”. While there are many cooperative structures that can be used in teaching. Stone, a very famous linguist, suggest that Roundtable, Paired Reading, and Team Interview are particularly useful cooperative learning structures.
Roundtable can be used during the pre-reading stage of the reading lesson to allow students to share prior experiences that relate to the article being studied. Students take turns contributing to the group---in an oral form and then in a written form for Roundtable. This can be accomplished quickly by having the students number off by threes or by whatever number of groups you want. If the students are doing Roundtable, there will be one piece of paper and one pen per group. The paper and pen will be passed around the group and each student will write one idea on the paper. The contributions from each student are oral and shared in each group.
Paired Reading is a cooperative structure that can be used during the reading phrase of the lesson. It allows all students to have a maximum amount of oral reading time during a class period by having two students (a pair) read together, alternating sentences, paragraphs or pages, depending on the length of the article. To keep the partners on task it is necessary for the instructor to circulate throughout the room and listen to various pairs of students as they read to each other. The partner who is listening should be encouraged to help the partner who is reading with vocabulary or other questions. To further encourage full participation, each partner should be given a task to complete based on the information found in the reading passage. Tasks may include such activities as answering questions based on the passage, performing some activities such as filling out a chart or diagram based on the information, or writing an original composition in response to issues raised in the reading passages. While partners should be encouraged to work together on such projects, each partner should be required to turn in a finished product, which represents his own mastery of the content of the reading passage.
Team interview is a cooperative structure that can be used in the post-reading phase of the lesson to check the students’ comprehension of the material and to help them actively respond to what they read. For this activity students are divided into cooperative groups or teams. Depending on the type of article that the students have read, students can be either assigned roles of particular characters or, in non-fiction works, be assigned certain points of view or ideas which they must support based on information found in the text. Team sizes can be varied based on the number of characters, points of view, or ideas presented by the text. After deciding which role each team members will have, one at a time, ask the each student sits in the“hot seat”in the center of the team. The other team members ask the students questions that they answer. Students continue the interview process until each student has had a chance to be interviewed. For more control over the interview process, the teacher can determine the roles and the questions in advance.
These three cooperative activities can help the students to improve their comprehension.
C.     Interesting reading with greater comprehension 
In our classrooms, however, students keep saying that reading is the most boring lesson. Why is this? According to Irwin, teachers can probably improve their students’ reading comprehension by making sure that they are motivated and interested, but how can we do this?
There are two reasons that students lose interest in their reading classes.
This first problem arises when teachers in China miss the real objective of reading, which is to develop reading strategies and fluency. Instead, they put too much emphasis on language form, which results in too much detailed explanations of language points and grammar, and they try to understand every word in their reading texts, which some teachers cannot finish the text within a period of class, the goal set by the textbook compliers.
The second reason why students are bored in reading class emerges when we only prepare students for the college entrance examination. The test questions on this exam are all multiple-choice questions, with reading comprehension constituting 40% of the whole test. Therefore, in preparing the students for the test, teachers give lots of model exercises, and students read one passage after another, answering endless multiple-choice questions. By and by, they feel tired and think reading is so monotonous that they lose interest.
In order to solve these problems, first of all, the teachers should establish the principle that “the focus of interest in the reading is neither language nor content, but the two together.” We want our students to learn how language is used for conveying content. We want to develop the skills needed to extract the content from the language that expresses it. We must keep in mind that the purpose of teaching language points is to help the students to be able to use the language in actual communication.
Students should read a lot in order to develop their reading comprehension; however, this reading does not have to be tedious. “Interest in the material leads to more motivation, and students read interesting material with great comprehension than uninteresting material, even when the readability level is the same for each. ” Moreover, Ngandu found that motivation provided by interesting material usually led to the use of appropriate behavior. We should use these principles to organize our activities in the classroom. The following three aspects are of the greatest importance.
First, we should provide the students with meaningful tasks. In order to involve students in comprehending, we must create situations in which the material being read is meaningful. This means that the reason for reading and learning the content must make sense to the students and that the material must be useful to them. Useful reading is likely to attract their attention.
Secondly, we should help our students move from answering to asking questions. Teachers usually ask many questions to test students’ understanding of a test, but in class, the answer to a question is not nearly as important as the process by which the students arrive at it. If we encourage students to ask questions of the teacher and of each other, it will help them to become more activity involved in comprehending. Therefore, teacher should teach students to formulate their own questions. We should ask questions to get questions, not answers. We should praise students for what they have understood correctly, and encourage them to look for other clues that will lead them to an even more satisfactory interpretation of a text.
Thirdly, discussion should be encouraged. In China, we used to regard reading simply as individual work, ignoring the benefits that discussion and group work can bring about. However, in a classroom in which students are activity comprehending, many lively discussions are possible. Questions asked in discussion can be used to promote active procession of the text. The students can talk about what is comprehended and what strategies he or she is choosing to use, thereby becoming aware of the difference between their views and those of others. In this way, they can work together to complete tasks.
D. Word-attack skills
When talking about the comprehension of a text, we should acknowledge the fact that a learner’s knowledge of vocabulary is more important than his knowledge of syntactic structure. Learners often complain their vocabulary is too limited. Comprehension is significantly promoted by attention to vocabulary growth. We should teach them how to attack new words while reading.
There are different ways of dealing with new words, depending on the frequency that the new words appear in other materials. Nation has selected 3,000 high-frequency words that account for about 93% of the running words in any text. Three ways of dealing with these high-frequency words are suggested:
a) Students should learn these high-frequency words by rote with the help of the teacher or a dictionary.
b) During actual reading, students may guess the word meaning from the context without the help of a dictionary.
c) Teachers may present the unknown words in the texts. This is a useful procedure and the teaching should be followed by location and other activities.
As for words that appear less frequently, we should advise students to:
a) Guess the word meaning from the context.
b) Use the word parts to guess meaning (using the suffix, prefix, or the word stem, etc.)
c) Learn to ignore difficult words. One mark of a skilled reader is his ability to decide what he can safely ignore.
E. Designing various questions to help students read
Reading comprehension lessons have traditionally centered on a passage of text followed by questions. The purpose of offering questions about the text is to check whether the learner can understand what is read so that the learner’ reading comprehension can be developed.
We should consider how to design the questions. Teachers need to develop an outline of the important ideas in the story, which has been called a “story map”. A story map specifies the main character’s problem in the story and then attempts to solve that problem. The questions designed on this basis will cohere with one another, so that they can form a logical sequence of questions, leading learners to process the whole story.
When talking about the form, presentation and type of questions, Nuttall gives useful insight in the form of a Question Model. He lists four different forms for questions: yes/no questions; alternative questions; wh-questions; and how/why questions. As for presentation of questions, he offers four choices: written or spoken; open-ended; multiple choice; and true/false.
   How is a teacher to assess questions? Well-designed questions should at least satisfy the following criteria:
a. Are the questions varied in type?
b. Do they try to make students aware of the strategies the reader needs?
c. Do the questions attempt to help students understand the test?
F. Enforcement of reading 
What is enforcement of reading? It means that students should read a lot in order to develop their reading strategies because the generalized skills of reading can only be acquired through practicing the specific skills for reading Text A, Text B, and so on. One way of helping a student to generalize his skills is to make sure that he reads a lot and has a lot of practice in using the skills with varied material.
In essence, enforcement means to emphasis the elementary requirements of reading to students constantly and to complement and adjust these requirements constantly according to different kinds of accidental incidents in reading process, and this can make the development of actions close to our purpose.
a. Reading time and WPM (words/per minute) must be recorded strictly
Students should record their reading time about a certain reading material. In this way they can concentrate their attention in reading, because everyone wants to improve his reading speed. As time goes on, they can see their progress they have made, which can make them read more actively and efficiently.
b. Comply with the procedure “Reading-remembering exercise” strictly.
The real purpose of reading is comprehension, so while reading, students should remember some important information and the main idea of the reading material. How to know their degree of comprehension? Students can do the exercises below the material or answer the questions raised by teachers. This can help students to understand the whole material better. Through a lot of practice, students can console their reading comprehension.
c. Improving reading speed should be required according to different phases strictly
Fast reading speed can’t be formed in a day. We should improve their reading speed gradually. If teachers break the rule and require fast reading speed exceeding, this will frustrate students and make them lose heart.
Teachers should make out correct phases for them. In different phases, different reading speed methods should be required. In this way, students have a certain goal to pursue in a certain phase and their progress can encourage them to attain the next goal. If they can do like this, their reading speed can be improved step by step.

4. Project Objective

This project is aimed to improve the students’ reading comprehension of English.

5. Project Hypotheses

6. Project Rationale

Through the training of the reading skills of skimming and scanning, author's viewpoint, structure of passages, structure of paragraphs, students', anticipation, punctuation, and summarizing, students know the steps of how to understand a passage and particularly how to deal with the comprehension questions in the examination. But we know reading is a practise of long period and we must have a lot of practice. In order to cultivate the reading ability, students need knowledge of grammar, a good master of vocabulary, a good ability of analysis and a good memory as well.

7. Research Design

7.1 Subjects

For this research, I chose the two classes of my students as subjects, one as the Experimental Group, the other as the Control Group. The experimental and control groups were randomly selected by drawing lots. Throughout the project, the Experimental Group will receive special designed brief drawing instruction, while the control group goes on with its routine instruction.

7.2 Procedure

This project lasted two months from March to September.

7.3 Principles to follow

Accord the students’ interest and practicability with the contents of the teaching materials and the age of the students. Adapt the learning styles to student’s range of knowledge. Create a good teacher-student relationship, motivate and encourage them without forcing. Provide a ‘stress-free’ and ‘learner-centered’ environment.
 
 Example 1: offer the students short reading materials or reading cards. Students need short reading materials that they can finish quickly without a sense of strain and without getting bored.    
Don’t get trapped into spending too much time explaining difficult vocabulary. Reading a short materials is not always about ‘understanding the meaning’. Students can learn pronunciation, grammar, intonation and other things from it.

7.4 Techniques for Data Collection

During this research two techniques were adopted, namely questionnaire and test. To gather information for the design of the research and to test whether the research is effective, two questionnaires will be issued, one at the beginning of the research and the other at the end. Two tests will be included (one as the pretest, the other as the post test for comparison) to test the co-efficiency between motivation and school recording.

8Project Implementation

 1. Skimming and Scanning
    Before starting to read a passage in detail, I first ask the students to take a moment to preview the passage. Read quickly, without pausing to study the details. This is called skim reading. The students ask them to have these in mind: for which the passage was written, what type of passage it is, what the purpose and attitude of the author is and what the style of the article is. After having skimmed the passage, the students can study the passage in more detail, reading more slowly and carefully and looking for specific information that the questions are concerned with. This is called scanning. When students do the scanning, I ask them to read without any sound, to notice only the key words and not to pay too much attention to the new words but to pay the sense group and the main meaning of the sentence. Especially pay attention to the first sentence and the last sentence of the paragraph.
2. The author’s viewpoint
In reading a passage I ask the students to makes guesses about the position of the author. Is the author neutral or does the author show his own opinion. The author often shows his opinion either by adding certain phrases or by adding a value to a word. I let the students to pay more attention to these words that the author can add, like luckily, unfortunately to show that he is pleased or not pleased with something. He can also add words, which show his surprise, regret or other emotions, for example surprisingly, to shock, unexpectedly, regrettably, pity, desirable, to be disappointed, etc. The author may also use words to indicate the level of certainty, for example: certain, obviously, undoubtedly, naturally, always, often, likely, probably, maybe, unlikely, hardly, rarely, never, etc. Another possibility is that the author adds words to comment on more or less objective facts.
c
I let the students know that the structure of a passages mostly with a title and sometimes a subtitle. After that, the introduction and the body followed by a conclusion or summary. An important aspect of reading is prediction. The better the student can predict what he or she is going to read, the faster and more effective he or she will read. The prediction process begins with the title. The introduction mostly informs the student about what he can expect. The body consists of paragraphs. Each paragraph deals with one aspect of the subject matter. Paragraphs are linked in a logical way; and the conclusion puts the subject matter in the right perspective. I asked the students' to form the main idea of the passage by putting the topic sentence of every paragraph.
4. The structure of paragraphs
I tell the students that a paragraph is a group of sentences. A typical paragraph consists of three parts. The first sentence usually contains the topic sentence, which is the heart of the paragraph. The topic sentence contains the new aspect of the subject of the passage. The second part of the paragraph contains sentences, which develop the aspect. These sentences may contain arguments, explanations, details, examples, and other supporting evidence. The last sentence of a paragraph is often a summary of the paragraph or a linking sentence to the next paragraph. So we can get a good impression of the contents of the paragraph by the structure.
5. Students' Anticipation(推测)
I let students know that even if you have a wide and flexible vocabulary you will encounter words of which they do not know the meaning. Very often there is not enough time to look up all those words in a dictionary. This means that students should be able to guess the meaning of the word. This is often possible if the student understands the relationships between words in meaning and form. I ask the student to notice the word formation if they meet new words. From the roots and affixes and conversion and compounding, they learn to try to guess the meaning of the word according to the content.
To make a good guess at the meaning of the word, I ask students to pay attention to the clues; indications that help him find that meaning. If you meet new words and try to find if there are synonyms and repeated ideas of the new words. I teach students to follow these steps: 1) Determine the word class, i.e. a verb, a noun, an adjective, an adverb, etc. 2) Determine its function in the sentence, i.e. is it an attributive or an adverbial? 3) Contextual clues, is the context in which we find this word positive or negative; what does the context tell us about the word? 4) Word formations, is there any relation between this word and a word that is familiar to you? 5) Guess the eventual meaning of the word logically and reasonably.
6. Punctuation
I teach the students to know punctuation is partly based on grammar. For example, commas are often used to separate clauses. If the student understands the meaning and usage of punctuation marks, it will be easier to understand the grammatical structures. Punctuation marks also indicate how the author wants the student to interpret a piece of passage. For example, if the author puts something in brackets, the part of the sentence should be interpreted as an addition to the sentence. Sometimes the parentheses indicate the author's point of view.

9. Data Analysis

In order to assess the effectiveness of the above-mentioned solutions, data were gathered mainly from two sources: two questionnaires and two tests at different times, which will be analyzed respectively in this section.

9.1.1 Question : The survey of learning styles


 

10.Conclusion

In his paper some problems relating to middle school students’ reading comprehension have been discussed and also several methods have been discussed, which can help students solve reading problems and improve their reading comprehension. Certainly, there are many other good methods that will be helpful to improve their reading comprehension.
Of course, no matter how good these methods are, they always depend on teachers’ wise guide and students’ positive motivation to read. Without these, no method or strategy can work effectively. That is to say, teachers’ task is not only to give students reading materials, reading methods and strategies, but the most important task is to stimulate their reading interest that will make them read widely. Reading interest and motivation lead to better reading comprehension.
 
Reading is a complicated process involving students,s active participation and thinking. Fostering a good reading habit is necessary, so are some reading skills. Most importantly, students must learn how to learn to read, how to learn to be an effective and efficient reader. In this thesis, on the whole, it is one-sided that we just emphasize only on one aspect to improve our reading ability, even in a certain extent cumbering students' reading ability. So based on good vocabulary, grammar, cultural knowledge, we should develop such reading abilities that we take the whole situation into account and plan accordingly and predict the general idea of the text. To improve English reading ability, we must unify language and non-language factors. As for a student’s degree of comprehension to a text, it not only depends on the language level, but also depends on the student’s reading habits, reading psychology and English cultural and background knowledge.
 

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