Teaching Reading in English as a Foreign Language

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2014

13 Pages, Grade: 2,0


1. Introduction

“I've traveled the world twice over, Met the famous; saints and sinners,

Poets and artists, kings and queens,

Old stars and hopeful beginners,

I've been where no-one's been before,

Learned secrets from writers and cooks

All with reading.”

~ Anonymous ~

Reading is a skill that does not attract exceptional attention in day-to-day life, since it is one that goes without saying.

However, it is this particular skill that we owe our current scientific knowledge and our gracious living to, for the human kind has been able to pass knowledge from one generation to the next. It is hard to image, how the human kind would live nowadays and what the world would look like, if we had never been able to read. A life in a civilized world permanently sets moments, where it is necessary and often vital to read any given information. But is not only the language that is spoken in the country we live in, that requires our reading skills on a daily basis. Due to a globalizing world, the human kind has moved closer together and new skills have been set on the focus.

It is the English language that is increasingly important in everyone`s life. Be it in professional life, in literature, in the supermarket or at the train station, one is constantly exposed to English, both orally and in writing.

Especially good reading skills in the English language are often required when it comes to gathering information in the internet, reading international academic papers or communicating with colleagues in foreign countries.

Based on this increasing need for good reading skills, it is essential for teachers of English as a foreign language (in the following EFL) to understand the process of reading in general and to know where differences are between reading in one`s first language and reading English as a foreign language. For a broader understanding of the reading process I am first going to illustrate different purposes for reading there are and outline the main models of how reading occurs. Taken this as a basis, the differences in reading one`s first language and reading English as a foreign language will be outlined to then present some teaching advices, that should be considered when there is the aim to effectively teach reading skills and prepare English learners for a future in which highly developed readings skills in the English language are vital for one`s success.

2. Purposes for reading

As I have mentioned earlier there are uncountable moments in daily life where our reading skills are required.

Sometimes we thoroughly read large texts or whole books.

In other moments we just read a short message or just a word that is written somewhere on a product. All these situations comprise different purposes for reading. In the following I am going to state and illustrate different purposes for reading that are commonly acknowledged among reading researchers.

2.1. Reading as a search for simple information

This is a very prominent purpose for reading and very dominant in our daily life.

Be it when looking through the very many pages of a telephone book in order to find a particular person`s number or when reading through an article to find particular information that we are looking for.

In these situations it is not necessary to understand the whole article thoroughly, neither it is to have a global understanding. Here it is (just) demanded to quickly look through the given text to find the particular information the reader is looking for. This process was given the name scanning a text (cf. Grabe and Stoller 2002, 13).

2.2 Reading to learn from the text

This purpose is often found in scholar and academic contexts. Students are often asked to read larger texts in order to learn quite a considerable amount of information from it.

This demand, however, requires a variety of abilities.

Apart from remembering the main ideas of the text, the student has to recognize rhetorical frames that embed the information in the text, which demands inferring skills and background knowledge.

Reading under this purpose usually occurs slower than reading for a global understanding. The reader tends to read very slow und thoroughly to remember all the facts and details (cf. Grabe and Stoller 2002, 13).

2.3. Reading to integrate information, write and critique texts

The three purposes of reading mentioned above are seen together, for they all require the ability to compose, select and critique information from a text. The reader has to carefully evaluate which of the given information in the text is important for his/her research and critically analyze the text as a whole. Therefore the text has to be analyzed by detecting its purpose and the rhetorical frame, so that the reader knows, which information to integrate for his/her goal. (cf. Grabe and Stoller 2002, 14).


Excerpt out of 13 pages


Teaching Reading in English as a Foreign Language
University of Cologne
Introduction to English Language Teaching
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ISBN (Book)
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477 KB
In this globalised world, having good reading skills in English is becoming more and more important day by day. Wherever you look, no matter on which spot of the world, you will find descriptions and indications in English.In this termpaper I am going to emphasise this necessity and illustrate the reading process from its early beginnings and point out its purposes. Furthermore I will give advice to English teachers, on how they can maximise their teaching effectiveness on a basis of linguistic findings
teaching, reading, english, foreign, language
Quote paper
Daniel Cruz (Author), 2014, Teaching Reading in English as a Foreign Language, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/280888


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