Reading is an interactive process that goes on between the reader and the text, resulting in comprehension. The text presents letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs that encode meaning. The reader uses knowledge, skills, and strategies to determine what that meaning is.
Reader knowledge, skills, and strategies include
- Linguistic competence: the ability to recognize the elements of the writing system; knowledge of vocabulary; knowledge of how words are structured into sentences
- Discourse competence: knowledge of discourse markers and how they connect parts of the text to one another
- Sociolinguistic competence: knowledge about different types of texts and their usual structure and content
- Strategic competence: the ability to use top-down strategies, as well as knowledge of the language (a bottom-up strategy)
The goal of reading and the type of text determine the specific knowledge, skills, and strategies that readers need to apply to achieve comprehension. Reading comprehension is thus much more than decoding. Reading comprehension results is when the reader knows which skills and strategies are appropriate for the type of text, and understand how to apply them to accomplish the reading purpose. Teachers want to produce students who, even if they do not have complete control of the grammar or an extensive lexicon, can fend for themselves in communication situations. In the case of reading, this means producing students who can use reading strategies to maximize their comprehension of text, identify relevant and non-relevant information, and tolerate less than word-by-word comprehension. Within the complex process of reading, six general component skills and knowledge areas have been identified:
- Automatic recognition skills—a virtually unconscious ability, ideally requiring little mental processing to recognize text, especially for word identification.
- Vocabulary and structural knowledge— a sound understanding of language structure and a large recognition vocabulary.
- Formal discourse structure knowledge— an understanding of how texts are organized and how information is put together into various genres of text (e.g., a report, a letter, a narrative).
- Content/world background knowledge— prior knowledge of text-related information and a shared understanding of the cultural information involved in text
- Synthesis and evaluation skills/strategies— the ability to read and compare information from multiple sources, to think critically about what one reads, and to decide what information is relevant or useful for one's purpose
- Metacognitive knowledge and skills monitoring— an awareness of one's mental processes and the ability to reflect on what one is doing and the strategies one is employing while reading.
To accomplish this goal, the teachers focus on the process of reading rather than on its product.
- They develop students' awareness of the reading process and reading strategies by asking students to think and talk about how they read in their native language.
- They allow students to practice the full repertoire of reading strategies by using authentic reading tasks. They encourage students to read to learn (and have an authentic purpose for reading) by giving students some choice of reading material.
- When working with reading tasks in class, they show students the strategies that will work best for the reading purpose and the type of text. They explain how and why students should use the strategies.
- They have students practice reading strategies in class and ask them to practice outside of class in their reading assignments. They encourage students to be conscious of what they're doing while they complete reading assignments.
- They encourage students to evaluate their comprehension and self-report their use of strategies. They build comprehension checks into in-class and out-of-class reading assignments, and periodically review how and when to use particular strategies.
- They encourage the development of reading skills and the use of reading strategies by using the target language to convey instructions and course-related information in written form: office hours, homework assignments, test content.
- They do not assume that students will transfer strategy use from one task to another. They explicitly mention how a particular strategy can be used in a different type of reading task or with another skill.
By raising students' awareness of reading as a skill that requires active engagement, and by explicitly teaching reading strategies, the teachers help their students develop both the ability and the confidence to handle communication situations they may encounter beyond the classroom. In this way they give their students the foundation for communicative competence in the English language.
Instruction in reading strategies is not an add-on, but rather an integral part of the use of reading activities in the language classroom. Instructors can help their students become effective readers by teaching them how to use strategies before, during, and after reading. (J.J.JALOLOV G.T.MAKHKAMOVA, Sh. S. ASHUROV TASHKENT — 2015)
The process of reading can be viewed in terms of purpose, strategy and outcome. Purpose of reading is what mistake the process necessary for the reader. Related to the purpose, a strategy of reading is chosen. The following strategies of reading are named to describe to the process: skimming, scanning and critique. Skimming is reading for the gist. Scanning is reading details. Critique is reading for critical analysis and putting to verification the truth of what is written in the text. As a result of applying the strategies, a predictable outcome of reading is achieved such as general ideas, detailed information or personal opinions.
A text chosen for reading is expected to be authentic-made or authentic-like, not too difficult for learners, suitable for the teaching goal and usable in the series of activities, lending itself as a resource of information and ideas.