In this article we are going to show the importance of reading skill in teaching English language. As we know reading is the ability to understand written language. It is a process of interpreting and understanding the text. If a reading text is interesting and engaging for the students, language acquisition is likely to be more successful. As Harmer states reading texts also provide opportunities to study language vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and the way we construct sentences, paragraphs and texts. Lastly, good reading texts can introduce interesting topics, stimulate discussion, excite imaginative responses and be the springboard for well-rounded, fascinating lessons.
Reading is an incredibly active occupation. To do it successfully, we have to understand what the words mean, see the pictures the words are painting, understand the arguments, and work out if we agree with them. By playing games we can make this skill active. Students need to be engaged with what they are reading. Students who are not engaged with the reading text — not actively interested in what they are doing — are less likely to benefit from it. When they engaged with the reading text they get much more of it. Students should be encouraged to respond to content of a reading text, not just to the language. The meaning, the message of the text, is just as important and we must give students a chance to respond to that message in some way. Principle 4: Prediction is a major factor in reading. The book cover, the headline, the word-processed page give an idea about what we are going to read. Our brains start predicting about the topic. Expectations are set up and the active process of reading is ready to begin. Teachers should give students ‘hints’ so that they can predict what’s coming to. Once a decision has been taken about what reading text the students are going to read, we need to choose good reading tasks — the right kind of questions, engaging, useful puzzles and games etc. the most interesting text can be undermined by asking boring and inappropriate questions; the most commonplace passage can be made really exciting with imaginative and challenging tasks. Any reading text is full of sentences, words, ideas, descriptions etc. It doesn’t make sense just to get students to read it and then drop it to move on to something else. Good teachers integrate the reading text into interesting class sequences, using the topic for discussion and further task, using the language for study and later activation.
There are many reasons why getting students to read English texts is an important part of the teacher’s job. In the first place many of them want to be able to read texts in English either for their carriers, for study purposes or simply for pleasure. Anything we can do to make reading easier for them must be a good idea.
Reading is useful for other purposes too: any exposure to English is a good thing for language students. At the very least, some of the language sticks in their minds as part of the process of language acquisition, and, if the reading text is especially interesting and engaging, acquisition is likely to be even more successful.
Reading texts also provide opportunities to study language: vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and the way we construct sentences, paragraphs, and texts.
In many countries foreign languages are learned by numbers of students who will never have the opportunity of conversing with native speakers, but who will have access to the literature and periodicals, or scientific and technical journals, written in the language they are learning. Many will need these publications to assist them with further studies or in their work; other will wish to enjoy reading in another language in their leisure time to keep them in touch with the wider world. The reading skill, once developed is the one which can be most easily maintained at a high level by the students themselves without further help from a teacher. Through it they can increase their knowledge and understanding of the culture of the speakers of the language, their ways of thinking, their contemporary activities, and their contributions to many fields of artistic and intellectual endeavor.
There are three types of reading which are oral reading, intensive reading and extensive reading. Students need to be able to scan the text for particular bits of information they are searching for. This skill means that do not have to read every word and line; on the contrary, such an approach would stop them skinning successfully. Students need to be able to skim a text — as if they were casting their eyes over its surface to get a general idea of what it is about.
Reading for detailed comprehension, whether looking for detailed information or language, must be seen by students as something very different from the reading skills mentioned above. One of the teacher’s main functions when training students to read is not only to persuade them of the advantages of skimming and scanning, but also to make them see that the way they read is vitally important.
There are some broad functions of visual materials used for reading activities for example to motivate the student to want to read; to make him feel that what he is reading and the way he is reading it relate to the way in which written text is used in real life; to provide a clue to the meaning of detail, either introducing him to the meaning for first time or remanding him of it; to provide a clue to the gist of the passage or text, either introducing it to him for the first time or reminding him of a theme previously met; to provide him with material by which he may indicate nonverbally that he has understood to provide him with a symbolic analysis of the relationship between written language and spoken sounds.
Whenever we use language we create and interpret texts. When we read we interpret texts created by others. These texts are created to achieve particular purposes. Different kinds of texts are created to achieve different purposes. A functional, or social, approach to language focuses on how language works in different contexts to achieve particular purposes.
The task of the reader is to construct meaning from a text by interpreting it within a particular context. A functional approach to language helps us to understand how a particular text works to achieve its purpose and so helps us to interpret, or read, the text. This approach to reading has clear implications for the classroom program.
In a nutshell we can say that reading is a complex process which involves interaction between the reader and the language and ideas of the text. It involves readers in drawing upon their existing knowledge of the world, of language and of the written code in order to attend to the visual information of the text.