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Teaching Reading to Adult Second Language Learners:
Theoretical Foundations, Pedagogical Applications, and Current Issues

by Meena Singhal

Table of Contents  

Chapter 1
This chapter offers a definition of reading in light of the more current theoretical and pedagogical approaches to reading. The chapter begins by providing an overview of the historical perspectives of reading. This is followed by a discussion of the various theoretical models of reading that have been proposed over the years such as bottom-up , top-down and interactive models of reading. The final section of the chapter discusses the main pedagogical approaches to teaching reading emerging from the various theoretical frameworks. This chapter serves as a foundation for the other chapters in the book.

Chapter 2
This chapter covers the main areas of empirical research in second and foreign language reading over the last two decades. It includes a discussion of reading strategy and reading proficiency studies, studies investigating the role of metacognition in reading and effects on comprehension, strategy training studies, schema research studies, and orthographic differences and reading. The chapter ends with a discussion of the implications of reading research for second language reading instruction.

Chapter 3
Though computers are being used to a greater extent now than before in educational contexts, the research on computer-assisted instruction and reading is somewhat limited. This chapter discusses the body of research in that area and its implications for classroom practice. The chapter also provides specific examples of the various types of reading software and web-based reading activities currently available. Also discussed are instructional considerations and future applications.

Chapter 4
This chapter addresses some of the factors that influence reading in an L2/FL. More specifically factors to be examined are the cognitive development at the time of L2 study, language proficiency in the L1, metacognitive knowledge of L1 structure, grammar, and syntax, the degree of difference between the L1 and L2 in terms of writing systems, language proficiency in an L2/FL and strategy use, and prior knowledge . While the research in this domain encompasses a great deal of literature, which cannot possibly be covered in its entirety here, it is hoped that this discussion will nonetheless provide readers with an overview in this area. Readers will note that much of this discussion is tied to the research presented in Chapter 2; therefore, readers are advised to consult that chapter for a more detailed analysis of these factors within the context of research studies. The intention of this chapter is to specifically highlight some of the main factors influencing the reading comprehension process and the pedagogical implications as related to these factors.

Chapter 5
This chapter specifically takes the reading instructor through the unconscious and conscious processes that readers often use and the ways teachers can make students more aware of their processes and reading strategies. This chapter begins by providing a basic outline of reading strategies. The chapter also covers reading activities, skills, and strategies that can be employed during the pre-reading stage, the reading stage, and the post-reading stage. These sections describe methods for knowing and improving reading comprehension and strategies as well as specific activities and tasks that a teacher can implement in the reading class.

Chapter 6
Reading textbooks for the second language or foreign language reading classes, especially higher-level classes frequently contain literary texts such as short stories, poems, and excerpts from longer works of fiction. This chapter discusses the issues, benefits, and adjustments that may arise when incorporating literature in the reading or writing class. More specifically, this discussion on the approach to using literature in the ESL classroom touches on four main considerations: (1) the reasons for and advantages of using literary texts to teach language, (2) some features of literary texts, (3) criteria for selecting literature, and (4) specific examples of assignments and activities incorporating literature in the classroom.

Chapter 7
Vocabulary knowledge is a central component to understanding texts. Therefore, teachers need to find ways to help their students develop their vocabulary knowledge and their skills to deal with unknown words. This chapter begins by providing an overview of the various approaches to vocabulary instruction. It then illustrates problems unique to the second language learner. Finally, the chapter discusses the ways in which vocabulary can be successfully taught by considering effective vocabulary learning strategies and methods of teaching vocabulary.

Chapter 8
The teacher’s role in the reading classroom is not only that of a facilitator but is also one of an assessor. Teachers encourage and facilitate learning but simultaneously evaluate what has been learned. In order to assess reading comprehension in a second or foreign language, it is necessary to understand what the reading assessment process entails. This chapter explores the various methods for assessing reading comprehension, which include journals, portfolios, reading logs, checklists, multiple-choice tests, recall protocols, cloze tests, vocabulary tests, comprehension questions, authentic and communicative tasks, and computer-based testing.

Chapter 9
As teachers and administrators are well aware, the planning and design of a reading course involves many important decisions and a great amount of time. This chapter discusses the specific steps involved in this process. These steps include deciding what to teach in the reading course, the course goals and objectives, the structure or approach of the course, materials selection, and student and course evaluation. Throughout this chapter, examples from a specific ESL intermediate-level college reading course will be used to illustrate the various components that should be included in course design.

Chapter 10
This chapter begins by discussing the importance of reflective teaching and the ways in which this can occur in the reading classroom. The discussion also emphasizes the importance of professional development and the various opportunities that exist to allow for advancement of knowledge of the L2 reading field, including participating and presenting in conferences and carrying out classroom research to both contribute to the field of L2 reading and better understand the processes of L2 reading.

Appendix A - List of Reading Related Journals and Organizations

Appendix B - Online Interactive Reading Activities

Appendix C - Glossary of Reading Terms




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