M. Taulean, Associate professor, PhD.,
Balti State University “Alecu Russo”,
Reading in the target language helps the students develop their speaking skills, enriches their vocabulary, introduces them to the culture and literature of the target language and develops their analytical thinking. Although university students at pre-intermediate level should read literature as well as informative and factual texts, this study focuses on the use of fictional literature in the foreign language class. The concept of literature refers to fictional works such as short-stories, novels, prose, drama, poetry etc. Reading is an independent activity when we read in order to retrieve information from a text. However, it should be clarified that, depending on the situation, the completeness and accuracy of information retrieval will be different. The task of teaching reading as an independent speech activity is to teach students how to extract information from text to the extent needed to solve a specific speech task, using specific reading techniques.
According to Self (1997), reading can also act as a means of developing and monitoring related speech skills, as it allows students to optimise their learning process: a) The use of reading allows students to optimise their acquisition of language and speech material; b) Communication-oriented tasks for controlling vocabulary and grammar, listening, writing and speaking assume the ability to read and are based on written texts and instructions; c) Exercises to develop and practice all language and speech skills are also based on text and written instructions for the exercises and tasks.
The current focus is on the development of oral language skills and unwittingly the teacher subordinates all work on reading to this task. Reading in the classroom seems to lose its autonomy and becomes an attribute of speaking and reading material is only an additional stimulus for the development of speaking skills. Learning to read as a process of “extracting information from a print source” is replaced by "working through" (Farrell, 2009: 32) reading aloud, question and answer work, translation, paraphrasing, etc. Reading as a speech activity is hardly ever taught: it is always out of the teacher's sight. It would be unfair, however, to look for the reason for this situation in the fact that oral speech has taken one of the main places in learning and as if it has replaced reading. It did not supplant reading, but subordinated it, which should not be the case. Speech and reading are two types of speech activity. While they are interconnected, they have their own specificities. Just as it would be inappropriate to teach oral speech on the basis of printed texts alone, without other means of stimulating expression, it is inappropriate and ineffective to teach reading on the basis of oral speech alone.
Types of reading. There are many different classifications of reading types. Each of them is based on different principles. Thus, some authors divide reading into types according to psychological features of their perception: translational – non-translational, analytical – synthetic; other authors – according to the conditions of their performance: independent or non-self, prepared – unprepared; by the abundance of reading: extensive – intensive, etc.
There are several types or skills of reading in the foreign methodology:
a) Skimming (exploratory reading) (identifying the main topic/idea of a text);
b) Scanning (searching for specific information in the text, reading diagonally according to the key words);
c) Reading for detail (to understand text in details, not only in terms of content, but also in terms of meaning).
Currently, the classification of reading, proposed by S. K. Folomkina (2005), into exploratory, introductory, viewing and exploratory is widespread.
Synthetic reading is reading in which the reader's attention is fully or mainly focused on the content, and this content is perceived synthetically and quickly. Analytical reading – reading in which the reader's attention is partly disconnected from the language structure of the text, hence this reading is much slower. The synthetic reading helps you to understand simple texts without the need for analysis and translation. Analytical reading serves as a means of understanding more complex texts which include individual difficulties that can only be overcome by reading and translation. It used to be thought that learning should start with analytical reading because it was the basis for synthetic reading. But this approach turned out to be ineffective because in this case students do not learn to read without a dictionary, they do not trust their knowledge, they translate the whole text in a row, even simple sentences, they do not know how to use language guessing. It cannot be imagined that analysis appears only when unfamiliar words appear. It can also occur when the text is understood without translation, for example, when the text or the content is set to highlight linguistic features. Analytical comprehension can also be triggered by working on a text in advance. An essential feature of analytic reading is the presence of an analytic orientation during the reading process itself – i.e. detailed comprehension. Through analytical reading students learn how to overcome language difficulties and thus comprehend textual content.
The relationship between synthetic and analytical reading is a common thread running through all stages of analytical reading. Analysis never exists separately from synthesis. In fact, we are more likely to encounter synthetic reading because the reading process goes through three phases of comprehension: primary synthesis, analysis, and secondary synthesis. Students read a new text and draw on known linguistic material to find out its overall meaning. They then analyze the unknown linguistic units and synthesize again, because the prerequisites for direct reading comprehension are created as a result of the analysis. Understanding at this stage is naturally deeper and more accurate, thanks to the analysis.
Reading is the overall mental state of the learner, expressed as the ability to perform this activity. First of all, this includes knowledge of the phonetic difficulties of the language, the use of logical and emphatic emphasis, knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and language style. Secondly, it is determined by the refinement of the reading mechanism, the accuracy of sound-letter correspondences and the speed of reading. Thirdly, reading readiness is determined by the learner's general culture, age, and knowledge of the larger context that ensures his or her understanding of the content of the passage. Reading can be general and special for reading a given text. Special readiness is achieved by the work preceding the reading of the text. This is how we distinguish between prepared, partially prepared and unprepared reading.
Every text has its difficulties; there are two main ways of overcoming them:
1. these difficulties can be resolved before the students start reading the text by adapting it or by carrying out appropriate explanations and exercises before reading, or by a combination of these ways. 2. these difficulties may not be resolved at all or may be partially resolved before reading the text. In this case, the difficulties hindering comprehension will have to be fully or partially overcome by students during the reading itself, under the guidance of the teacher, by analysing incomprehensible parts of the text or by using a dictionary.
For example, Comprehension 1.
When you read an article, you can often guess the words you do not know from the context. Find words or expressions in the above article which have the following meanings:
a) say or do something wrong or inappropriate, usually as a result of thoughtlessness, and so cause an awkward situation; b) quick and not thorough;
c) something to eat which is considered rare or expensive; d) say or do something wrong or stupid; e) something done without attention to details; quick, hurried.
Explain, what is meant by the following expressions in the text: overt, frank manner or communication; to transmit information; subtle, indirect cues; a smile can be used to cover up embarrassment; a mysterious smile can unnerve Western sales people; devour or orthodox Muslims and Jews; close proximity; you don’t want to undermine your business relationships by being coy about your personal space; their capability to pick up on non-verbal communication.
By “home reading” we mean that reading at home is compulsory for all students, in addition to the university textbooks, and that it is constant and abundant for the purpose of extracting meaningful information. In order for this reading to be continuous and compulsory, it must be possible to do. The texts should, therefore, be light (adapted) from fiction, social, political and popular science literature, containing mainly lexical and grammatical material that is familiar to students. According to the nature of comprehension, it is a synthetic reading, as the linguistic form of texts in this case does not require significant effort of thought and will for its disclosure, and the reader's attention is focused on extracting the information encrypted in the text. According to the method of reading – it is reading to oneself or ideally – visual reading, "as the most perfect and mature reading" (Kuzmenko & Rogova, 1991: 238–252).
Thus, the main purpose of home reading is to get information from texts in a foreign language. At the same time, systematic home reading is an important source and means of increasing students' vocabulary and developing their speaking skills. This type of reading has a leading role in the development of language reading skills and improving students' oral speech skills on the basis of their reading. In order to read effectively in a foreign language, it is necessary to pay attention to: extract meaningful information; reading using key words; working with a dictionary; use footnotes and comments suggested in the text; interpret the reading text.
According to N. Slivanova there are several functions of home reading:
a) The main educational function is cultural and creative, which provides preservation, transmission and development of general education culture by means of literary and artistic component, which implies access to another national culture and thereby to the world culture. b) Developmental function: shaping of an independent aesthetic attitude towards the surrounding world, critical and creative thinking, and humanistic values in the process of familiarization with the best literary works of English literature; c) The learning function consists of developing such skills known as "intellectual and communicative reading", i.e. relating the content of the work to one's own experience and being able to argue one's understanding of the issues raised in the novel.
1. Barnett, M. A. (1988). "Reading through context: How real and perceived strategy use affects L2 comprehension." Modern Language Journal 72: 150-160.
2. Farrell, T. S. C. (2009). Teaching Reading to English Language Learner: A Reflective Guide. California, Corwin press.
3. Self, P. A (1997). "Reading to Learn: What university students want when the text book is difficult." Dissertation abstracts international 7(58).
4. Кузьменко О. Д., Рогова Г. В. Учебное чтение, его содержание и формы /КУЗЬМЕНКО О. Д., Г. В. Рогова// Общая методика обучения иностранным языкам: Хрестоматия / [Сост. А. А. Леонтьев]. – М.: Рус. язык, 1991. – С. 238–252.
Селиванова, Н.А. Домашнее чтение – важный компонент содержания обучения иностранным языкам в средней школе / Н.А. Селиванова // Иностранные языки в школе. – 2004. – № 4. – С. 21–26.