Saturday, August 8, 2009

How To teach reading 2

What kind of reading should student do?
There has been frequent discussion about what kinds of reading texts are suitable for English language students. The greatest controversy has centred on wheater the texts should be 'authentic' or not. That is because people have worried about more traditional language-teaching materials which tended to look artificial and to use over simplified language which any native speaker would find comical and untypical.
However, if you give low-level student a copy of  The Times or The Guardian (which are certainly authentic for native-speaker), they will probably not be able to understand them at all. There will be far too many words they have never been seen before, the grammar will be (for them) convoluted and the style will finish them off.
A balance has to be struck between real English on the one hand and the students' capabilities and interests on the other. There is some authentic written material which beginner students can understand to some degree: menus, timetables, signs and basic instruction, for example, and where appropriate, we can use these, But for longer prose, we may want to offer our students texts which, while being like English, are nevertheless written or adapted especially for their level. The Important thing is that such texts are as much like real English as possible.
The topics and types of reading text are worth considering too. Should our students always read factual encyclopedia-type texts or should we expose them to novels and shorts stories?Should they read timetables and menus or can we offer them business letters and newspaper articles?
A lot will depend on who the students are. If they are business people, the teacher may well want to concentrate on business texts. If they are science students, reading scientific texts may be a priority, But if, as is often the case, they are mixed group with differing interest and careers, a more varied diet is appropriate. Among the things the teacher might want them to read are magazine articles, letters, stories, menus, advertisment, reports, play extracts, recipes, instructions, poems, and reference material.

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