Luận văn Using While- Reading Techniques to Improve Reading Comprehension for the 11th Form Students at Phan Dang Luu High School

To carry out this study, the following methods are used:

- Using survey questionnaire: To find out the present situation of learning and teaching reading to the 11th form students at Phan Dang Luu high school, two survey questionnaires, one for teachers and another for students are conducted among students and 10 teachers at Phan Dang Luu high school.

- Observing classes: Class observation is also a useful method. It gives a chance to observe the teaching and learning of reading texts.


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d out. Students have to read the passage and work out what the connector must be. Prediction exercises: Students only read the first line and then predict the next. Recognizing the effect of style Multiple choice or True/ False questions Discussion on the style of the text. Parallel passage in different style. Recognizing the organization of a text Jumbled paragraphs Discussing the function of particular paragraphs. Making inferences True/ false or discussion questions on possible interpretation of the text Extensive reading Students red on a self- access basis from a class reading bank. Skimming for the gist The text is used simply as spring board for discussion on a particular topic. Students read through a passage and then suggest a title for this. Students match different titles to series of short texts within a given time limit. Scanning for specific information Underlining or circling the required information in a given time limit. Pre- questions focusing on specific information Reading for detail Information transfer activities. Note- taking on the order of events or emotion in a text. True/ false questions. Jigsaw reading Indeed, there are various activities the teacher can choose for his students in this stage. Its is, however, essential to be flexible in this task. The selection of any of them depends on the nature of the reading text and the level of the students. Besides selecting suitable activities, during the while- reading stage, the teacher should bear in mind his roles of an organizer, observer, assessor and prompter as mentioned in the last part, the roles of teacher. The post- reading stage The post- reading stage is the final but not the les important stage of a reading lesson because it is time for students to apply what they have got from the text into real life communication. In Williams’s opinions ( 1984: 39), the post- reading stage aims at: To consolidate or reflect upon what has been read. To relate the text to the learners’ own knowledge interest or views. In summary, each of the reading stage carries its own aims and activities. It is very effective if these three stages are combined flexibly and appropriately for an efficient reading lesson. In the while- reading stage, it is necessary to help the students improve and develop sub- reading skills such as skimming, scanning, or reading for details. If the students can acquire these skills, it is easier for them to understand efficiently the significance of the text. To acquire these skills, students may be instructed to take part in various activities according to each skill. There are numerous activities in this stage. The teacher should be flexible in choosing them for their reading lessons. In the process of reading, asking students to work in pairs or groups is also advisable. This may enable students to feel more pleasant in reading, encourage the to work harder to improve and develop effective reading skills. Summary In this chapter, all the concerning theoretical background of reading comprehension has been presented. First, some definitions of reading and reading comprehension basing on some linguistics scholars have been presented. Second, teaching reading comprehension consisting of relationship between reading and other skills, the role of the teacher as well as the students in the three stages of a reading lesson have been reviewed. CHAPTER 2: THE PRESENT SITUATION OF LEARNING TEACHING READING TO THE 11TH FORM STUDENTS AT PHAN DANG LUU HIGH SCHOOL Introduction Nowadays, together with improvements of other skills of English learning, reading comprehension has been put into consideration at secondary schools in Vietnam. As time goes by, a lot of achievements in teaching reading comprehension can be clearly seen. It is true that quality of teaching and learning reading comprehension in most secondary schools has been improved remarkably in terms of the teachers’ methods and the learners’ attitudes. However, there are still some problems facing the reading teachers a well as the pupils. In order to fulfill this thesis, two survey questionnaires were conducted to the 11th form pupils and eight teachers of English, especially those who are teaching English to the 11th form students at Phan Dang Luu high school to get more details of the reality of teaching and learning reading comprehension at while- reading stage. This section deals with main points: Objects of the study, objectives of the study, methods of study. Objects of the study The main objects of this study are: One hundred 11th form secondary students at Phan §¨ng L­u high school, most of them have been learning English for nearly six years. Ten teachers of English at Phan §¨ng L­u high school, especially those who are teaching English to the 11th form students. Objectives of the study There are three main objectives of this study. The first is to make clear teachers and students’ attitudes towards teaching and learning reading texts. The second is to find out students difficulties in learning reading texts, the third is to investigate the methods of teaching and learning reading texts. Methods of the study. To carry out this study, the following methods are used: Using survey questionnaire: To find out the present situation of learning and teaching reading to the 11th form students at Phan Dang Luu high school, two survey questionnaires, one for teachers and another for students are conducted among students and 10 teachers at Phan Dang Luu high school. Observing classes: Class observation is also a useful method. It gives a chance to observe the teaching and learning of reading texts. Data analysis and findings. Survey questionnaires for teachers and students Teachers’ and students’ attitudes towards teaching and learning reading. Question 1, 2, 3 in the survey questionnaire 1 and questions 1, 2 in the survey questionnaire 2 are conducted to investigate teachers’ and students’ attitudes towards reading in English, the importance of reading in English and the importance of developing this skill. The results are as follows: Chart 1: Students’ attitudes towards reading in English. A. Yes B. No Chart 1 Chart 2: Students’ and teachers’ attitudes towards importance of reading comprehension. A. Very important B. Important as other language skills C. Less important than other language skill D. Not important at all Chart 2 Chart 3: Students’ and teachers’ attitudes towards importance of developing reading comprehension skills A. Very important B. Important C. Not very important D. No important at all Chart 3 Chart 4: Students’ and teachers’ opinions about reading texts in English 11 textbook A. Interesting C. Suitable to student’ level B. Boring D. Not suitable to students’ level Chart 4 Basing on the collected data from Chart 1, 2 and 3, it is obvious that a majority of students and teachers had positive attitudes towards learning and teaching reading comprehension. Most of students were interested in reading in English (chart 1). They gave various reasons for their choice. Firstly, reading is very interesting, it can help students relax after long studying hours. Secondly, by reading they can broaden their mind and improve their background knowledge. In addition reading enables them to reinforce vocabulary and grammatical structures and develop other language skills. Through the statistics collected, a fact was improved that to both students and teachers, reading comprehension stands equal to speaking, listening and writing (Chart 2). And because both students and teachers were aware of the importance of reading comprehension, most of them accordingly think that developing reading comprehension is necessary (Chart 3). This is a great advantage in teaching and learning this skill. The next question focuses on the students’ and teachers’ opinion about reading text in the text book (Chart 4). In response to this question, teachers and students showed different ideas. 30% of teachers thought that texts in the textbook were interesting but only 15% of students shared the same view point. Most students (43%) found that reading texts were boring, 32% of them thought they were not suitable for their level. To teachers, a large number of them (40%) believe that reading texts are suitable to the students’ level, 15% of them thought they are boring, and the rest (15%) stated they are difficult to the students. This figure shows a big difference in the opinion about reading texts in the current textbook. It may greatly affect the methods on teaching and learning reading texts of students. Chart 5: Students’ purposes in reading To entertain themselves To reinforce vocabulary and grammatical structures To improve language skills To improve background knowledge All of the above Chart 5 Question number 5 for students deals with their purposes of reading. In this question, the students can choose more than one answer (Chart 5). Different ideas were provided for reading purposes. The statistics indicates that students who read in English with the combination of the mentioned purposes are the largest, accounting for 65%. Next is the number of students who consider widening vocabulary and grammatical structures as their reading purposes (27%); 15% of them read for developing language skills; 9% read for information and reading for pleasure is the least percentage (only 3%). As can be seen, the purposes of reading in English are various. Many students think that reading can help them much in reinforcing language skills and elements and improving background knowledge. Students’ difficulties in reading. Chart 6: Students’ difficulties in reading Lack of vocabulary Lack of grammatical Lack of background knowledge Lack of reading skills Chart 6 The next question (Chart 6) find out students’ difficulties in reading texts. According to the data, many students had more than one and different difficulties. Both teachers and students shared nearly the same opinion about students’ difficulties in reading. There is only a great imbalance in the last mentioned difficulty. While 30% of students thought it was difficult for them to complete comprehension exercises (lack of reading skills), only 12% of teachers recognized this. This fact may have great effect to the efficiency of reading lessons. When teachers do not recognize their students’ shortcomings, they cannot help them to overcome these problems. In this case, the teacher may not concentrate on developing their students reading skills but providing them with new vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students’ difficulties in reading are also various. How do the students overcome these difficulties? Students’ and teachers’ methods of learning and teaching reading texts. Chart 7: Students’ ways of overcoming difficulties Wait for the ring answer when the teachers correct Ask the teachers for help Discuss with friends to find out the right answer Chart 7 The statistics in Chart 7 shows that when having difficulties in reading, most of students (53%) waited for their teacher’s correction; 26% discussed with their friends to find the right answers. This reveals a fact that in reading classes, the teacher may not encourage students to work in pairs/ groups to save time and have a better result in reading. Their reading lessons, therefore, cannot be effective as the students passively depend on their help. Chart 8: Students’ ways of reading texts Focus on every word for detailed understanding Read quickly for general understanding first and then focus on other specific information and new words Chart 8 The next question (Chart 8) is to investigate how often students read a text. As can be seen, a majority of students focused on new words in reading a text, accounting for 61%. Only 39% of them skimmed for general ideas, and then focused on other specific information and new words. This fact is understandable because it is the teacher who asked the to read according to such way (55%), and only 45% directed them to read quickly for general understanding first and then focused on other specific information and new words. It proves that reading strategies applied in reading classes now are not totally appropriate. Few teachers, in fact, made use of effective techniques (skimming and scanning), but most of them still used the translation method to exploit the text. It was common practice of students to look up new vocabulary items immediately without skimming for the message conveyed in the text. Chart 9: Using extra reading exercises in reading classes A. Yes B. No Chapter 9 The next question (Chart 9) aims at finding out whether teachers provide students with extra reading exercises or not. As the result reveals, a great percentage of students (81%) and teachers (85%) said: “Yes” and the rest said “No”. It is reasonable because exercises in the texts book are sometimes insufficient and they are not very useful for exploiting the text efficiently. The teacher, therefore, may cut down on such exercises and provide their students with extra ones. Table 1: The frequency of using while- reading activities and exercises While- reading exercises Often Sometimes Never Students’ choice(%) Teachers’ choice(%) Students’ choice(%) Teachers’ choice(%) Students’ choice(%) Teachers’ choice(%) Questions and answers 82 85 18 15 0 0 T/F exercises 72 80 25 20 3 0 Multiple choice exercises 85 85 11 15 4 0 Finding the topic sentences 7 15 30 20 61 65 Finding synonyms and antonyms 9 10 45 45 36 45 Blank filling 60 65 33 35 7 0 Reordering exercises 24 25 61 65 13 10 Completing exercises 35 35 56 60 9 5 Matching exercises 27 25 61 70 10 5 Finding equivalents 5 5 26 25 69 70 The frequency of using activities and exercises in the while- reading stage is also investigated. There are three levels (often, sometimes and never) for ten kinds of exercises. From the data, teachers and students roughly the same opinion about the frequency of using these exercises. Teachers apparently often used some common type of exercises in their reading lessons: Questions and answer, True/False questions and Multiple- choice questions. Using only such common kinds of exercises frequently may make students feel bored. It is advisable to use some other ones for a change such as Finding topic sentences, Finding synonyms and antonyms or Finding equivalents, which are rarely conducted in the reading class. Chart 10: Time allowance in doing reading exercises A. Yes B. No Chart 10 The next question is conducted to find out whether teachers limit the time of doing reading exercises (Chart 10). As can be seen from the chart, most of teachers (85%) required their students to complete reading exercises in a limited period of time. Only a small percentage of them did not, accounting for 15%. It is a good method because it may make students to try more and accordingly help to build up their reading skills. Chart 11: Classroom organization in the while- reading stage A. Yes B. No Chart 11 Teachers and students gave quite different answers when being asked about the way of organizing while- reading activities. It is evident from Chart 11 that only 20% of students gave their answer that their teachers asked them to work in pairs or groups to complete reading exercises. And a majority of them stated they did not work together (80%). 65% of teachers who did not use pairs or groups work in reading class gave no idea for their choice. 35% of them used pairs/groups work in attempt to make the reading class more relaxing and encourage students in reading to develop their reading skills. In general, the survey of both teachers and students gives findings about their attitudes to teaching and learning reading texts and their working methods. From the above data analysis, it can be stated that both teachers and students have positive attitudes to teaching and developing reading skill. Teachers have been using different activities and exercises in the while- reading stage, but they are not appropriate and effective enough. The teachers, in fact still apply traditional strategies in teaching reading. Most of them focus on presenting new words and grammatical structures rather than instruct their students to use some useful techniques such as skimming and scanning, etc. They have not made use of pairs work and groups work in the process of teaching reading. That is why their reading lessons could not be effective. Students consequently cannot develop their reading skills. It is the reason why the teacher of English should not think of more useful techniques that can work to get the best result of a reading lesson. Class observations From the factual class observation (observation sheet 1 and 2) there still exist both strong and weak points in the process of teaching reading comprehension texts, especially in the while- reading stage. In terms of strong points, the condition of learning and teaching is quite good with enough facilities such as cassettes and tapes. In the while- reading stage, teachers used some useful techniques like guiding questions and sometimes let their students work in groups. In contrast, there are numerous problems. The number of students in class was quite large, students did not pay adequate attention to the lessons. Many of them made noise; and some others studied other subjects. The teachers, they actually spent much time on teaching vocabulary, practicing pronunciation or translating the text into Vietnamese in the while- reading stage. They also used individual work in stead of pairs/ groups work. Their lesson consequently sounded boring and could not hold students’ attention. Once students lose their interest, it is impossible for them to practise and develop effective reading skills. To summarize, the teaching of reading texts still faces shortcomings. It is advisable to enrich the teaching strategies. Students should be given more exercises and activities in the while- reading stage to develop effective reading skills. Summary In short, chapter 2 has described in details the sub- steps of the survey and class observations and presented, analysed the information gathered from the survey, class observations. The results have helped the author of the study to have better understanding about the teaching and learning reading comprehension. The next chapter will suggest some while- reading techniques for teaching comprehension for the 11th form students. CHAPTER 3 SOME SUGGESTED TECHNIQUES USED IN THE WHILE- READING STAGE TO DEVELOP THE READING SKILLS FOR THE 11TH FORM STUDENTS As mentioned above, the while- reading stage is regarded as the main part of a reading lesson. This stage often occupies most of the time in class, and accounts largely for the improvement of students’ reading comprehension skills. The students must be active and practice as much as possible. To help students understand reading texts and at the same time develop their reading skills, the teacher must play a role as a guiding person. He should give his students clear purposes while reading (for example, reading for general ideas, reading for specific information, and reading for further understanding) with clear instructions for various kinds of activities according to each purpose. Based on the nature of reading and teaching reading in addition to what is found from the survey, some useful techniques are suggested to help students to read better at the while- reading stage. All the example suggested question types are based on reading texts in “English” textbook. Reading for general understanding. Technique: Skimming After teaching new vocabulary or introducing the text, etc. the teacher asks his students to read the text silently for the first time. This activity enables them to gain the global understanding of the text, identify main ideas before going into the details of the text. While skimming the text silently, the students do not need to pay attention to every word in the text but run their eyes quickly over it, read a few important sentences and recognize certain words or expression as clues to ideas of what follows. It is advisable to ask the students to pay attention to the title, the beginning, the end as well as the topic sentence of each paragraph that usually conveys the main ideas of the text. Suggested question types To make this task more efficient and know how well the students understand the text, the teacher had better encourage them to get involved in some activities while they are skimming. Information questions While the students are reading, they are given some questions which help them know what they are expected to read. Information questions used while students are skimming direct them to the general idea of the text. The teacher can use the questions in the text book, change or replace the poor ones, or he can design some extra questions. It is worth using Wh- questions to draw the students’ attention to the whole text. If Yes/ No questions are used, he must his students to explain their answers. For example, in Unit 4: “Volunteer work ” (English 11: 46), the students may be asked to answer the questions after skimming the text: What is the main idea of this passage? What do young volunteers work in the homes of sick or old people? Is there a voluntary organization called Big Brothers? Multiple choice questions This is one of the most common types of exercises used in reading comprehension. It can be used to focus on the whole text and enables students to understand the text by giving them clues. His kind of questions certainly contains a statement and a set of possible answers. Students’ task is to select the best one form the answers depending on the text. For instance, in the text “Friendship” (English 11: 13, the students may be asked to answer the question: Which of the choices A, B, C or D most adequately sums up the ideas of the whole passage? A friend in need is a friend indeed Conditions of true friendship. Features of a good friend. Friends and acquaintances. When doing the multiple choices exercises, the students need to understand the stem of the item as well as the options. It is necessary to help the students immediately when they have problems with the question stems. True/ False questions True/ False questions may be used to draw the students’ attention to the main ideas of the text. The students are given a list of statements about the text and they must decide whether they are true or false according to what they read. There are several possibilities of this kind of questions. In all the provided statements, some of them are right, some are wrong, and some are not mentioned in the text. The students must write true (T) or (F)or not given (NG) next to each statement according to what they get from the text. For example, in the text “Celebrations” (English 11: 90), the students have to decide if the following statements are T, F or NG according to the text. Decide whether the statements are true (T), (F) or (NG) Tet is always on 20th February on the Western calendar. According to the text, for people anywhere in the world the beginning of spring is the start of a new year. Tet used to be longer than it is nowadays. According to the text, “lucky money” is given to everyone at Tet. Kimquat trees are popular both in the North and in the South of Vietnam. People try to be nice and polite to each other because they want to have good luck on New Year’s Day. When asking the students to answer the multiple choice questions and the True/ False questions, the teacher needs to be aware that the students can guess the answer rather than base on the text. To exploit the text efficiently, it is plausible to ask the students to discuss their answers in pairs or in groups, and give reasons for their choice. Finding topic sentences One of the useful activities which helps students understand the main points of the text is finding the topic sentence for each paragraph in the text. That key sentence is often at the beginning of each paragraph. The students can look for it to get the idea of what follows. For example, for the text “Hobbies” (English 11: 146), the teacher may ask his students to skim the text and underline the topic sentence in each paragraph. Paragraph 2: The hobby I like most is playing my guitar. My uncle, who is an accomplished guitarist, taught me how to play. Now I can play a few simple tunes. I have even begun to sing while playing the guitar, but I have not been very successful at this. My uncle tells me that all I need is to practise regularly and I should be able to do it. He is very good at accompanying people singing with his guitar and I admire him very much. Paragraph 3: Another hobby of mine is keeping fish.

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