Teaching Reading in the EFL Classroom
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Teaching EFL Reading Podcast – seven minutes
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Teaching reading in EFL is a bit different than the way native speakers are taught to read. While vocabulary is an important part of reading, teaching the reading skills of surveying, skimming, scanning, inference, predicting and guessing are just as important.
Research tends to indicate that a student’s reading comprehension can be improved by focusing on teaching students skills in the following areas:
Many languages do not have the word building concepts that English does. In teaching vocabulary, the idea of “root” words and prefixes and suffixes helps students build a larger vocabulary quickly. Affixes (prefixes and suffixes) help us create a variety of words from one base word. Many EFL students won’t recognize that contain is the root word of container and containment or that desire is the root word of undesirable and desirability. When teaching new vocabulary, it is important to point out these connections and we can quickly help students expand their vocabulary with the base words they already know. Teaching affixes is only one of several strategies for teaching vocabulary. See the links below for more.
Surveying, Scanning, Skimming
In an academic setting, we rarely read an entire text word for word. More typical is that we look at the contents of a book, the chapters, headings, subheadings, sidebars, pictures, illustrations, words in italics and bold type and dive in to find the information we need. These are the concepts of surveying, scanning and skimming, moving from the big ideas of a text down to the specific details. These are skills that EFL students don’t usually have and must be taught. The linked readings below will give you more specifics on these skills.
Guessing and Predicting from Context
Students also need to be taught to guess the meanings of words based on the context of the reading and to draw from the reading an ability to predict what might happen in the next paragraph. Links below will lead to more information on these skills.
Teaching Reading – read the entire section and subsections
Teaching Reading Skills – download this PDF file
An excellent short article about teaching reading and specific reading skills is HERE at About.com
When you finish these readings, proceed to the section on Teaching Writing.