Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies to Iranian EFL Pre-University Students

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Assistant Professor

2 Professor

3 M.A. in TEFL

Abstract

The present study investigated the potential of implementing reading strategy instruction in raising learner readers' awareness of reading strategies,  extending the range of strategies they employed and enhancing their reading comprehension ability. To conduct the study, 90 female pre-university students majoring in Natural Sciences were selected based on a convenient sampling procedure. After the students' existing strategy awareness and use were determined, the researchers started to teach them reading comprehension strategies explicitely. During this period of instruction, the students' strategy use was improved and reviewed at regular intervals through review exercises and interviews. To collect the necessary data, two types of instruments were employed,  a reading comprehension test and two questionnaires. A group of 53 students (experimental) was taught to employ reading comprehension strategies in reading some English texts during a period of 15 sessions while the other group of 37 students (control) was taught reading comprehension traditionally. The findings of the study pointed to the problematic nature of reading strategy instruction. While strategy training appeared to raise students' awareness of reading strategies and could encourage  strategy use by some students, some strategies were found to be harder to be acquired. Moreover, the reading strategy instruction was not able to enhance the students' reading performance significantly based on the results of a reading comprehension test given to the participants at the end of the program.

Keywords


Alderson, J. C. (1984). Reading in a foreign language: A reading problem or a  Language problem? In J. C. Alderson and A. H. Urquahart (Eds.). 1984:        Reading in a foreign language. London: Longman.

Allen, E. D., Bernhardt, M. T., and Demel, M. (1988). Comprehension and text     Genre: Analysis of secondary school foreign language readers. Modern          Language Journal, 72, 163-72.

Al-Melhi, A. M. (2000). Analysis of Saudi college students, reported and actual    strategies along with their metacognitive awareness as they read in English as a foreign language. Dissertation Abstracts International: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 60, 7, Jan, 2465-A.

Auerbach, E. R., & Paxton, D. (1997). It's not the English thing: Bringing reading research into the ESL classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 237-261.

Ayaduray, J. & Jacobst, G. M. (1997). Can learners strategy instruction succeed? The case of higher order questions and elaborated responses. System, 25, 561-570.

Barnett, M. A. (1988). Reading through context: How real and perceived strategy affects L2 comprehension. The Modern Language Journal, 72(2),150-162.

Benito, Y. M., Foley, C. L., lewis, C. D. & Prescott, P. (1993). The effect of instruction in question-answer relationships and metacognition on social studies comprehension. Journal of Research in Reading, 16(1), 20-29.

Brantmeier, C. (2002). The effect of passage content on second language reading comprehension by gender across instruction levels. In J. Hammadou       Sullivan. Literacy and the second language learner. Greenwich, CT:    Information Age Publishing.  

Brown, A., & Palincsar, A. (1989). Guided cooperative learning and individual acquisition. In L. B. Resnil (Ed.). Knowing, learning, and instruction:      Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 393-451). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Carrell, P. L. (1985). Facilitating ESL reading by teaching text structure. TESOL   Quartely, 19, 727-757.

Carrell, P. L. (1989). Metacognitive awareness and second language reading. TESOL Quarterly, 73,121-134.

Carrell, P. L. (1991). Second language reading: Reading ability or language proficiency? Applied Linguistics, 12, 159-79.

Carrell, P. L., Pharis, B. G., & Liberto, J. G. (1989). Metacognitive strategy training for ESL reading. TESOL Quarterly, 20, 463-494.

Carver, R. P. (1994). Percentage of unknown vocabulary words in text as a function of the relative difficulty of the text: Implications for instruction. Journal of     Reading Behavior, 26 (4), 413-437.

Chamot, A. U. & O'Malley, J. M (1994). The CALLA Handbook:         

          Implementing the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach. MA:   Addison Wesley.

Clark, M. A. (1979). Reading in Spanish and English: Evidence from adult ESL    students. Language Learning, 29, 121-50.

Cohen, A. D. (1998). Strategies in learning and using a second language. NY: Addison Wesley Longman Limited.

Cohen, A. D., Weaver, S. F., & Li, T. (1998). The impact of strategic-based instruction on speaking a foreign language. In A. Cohen (Ed.). Strategies in learning and using a  second language (pp. 107-56). London Longman.

Connor, C. M. C., Morrison, F. J. & Petrella, J. N. (2004). Effective reading comprehension instruction: Examining child x instruction interactions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(4), 682-698.

Davis, D. S. (2010). A meta-analysis of comprehension strategy instruction for        upper elementary and middle school students. Unpublished Ph.D.      dissertation. Vanderbilt University, America.

Derahaki, M. (2008). Examining the vocabulary load of the senior-high school English text-book. Unpublished master's thesis, Shiraz University, Iran.

Hong-Nam, K.& Leavell, A. G. (2007). A Comparative study of language learning strategy use in an EFL context: Monolingual Korean and bilingual Korean-Chinese University students. Asia Pacific Education Review, 8 (1), 71-88

Hosenfeld, C. (1977). A preliminary investigation of the reading strategies of successful and non-successful second language learner. System, 5, 110-123.

Jimenez, R. T., Garcia, G. E., and Pearson, P. D. (1995). Three children, two languages, and strategic reading: Case studies in    bilingual/monolingual reading. American Educational Research

         Journal, 32, 31-61.

Khosravi, A. A. (2000). The effect of scanning and skimming on the rate of and reading comprehension of Iranian EFL learners. Master thesis, Shiraz University, Iran.

Kintsch, W., & Kintsch, E. (2005). Comprehension. In S.G. Paris & S. A.          Stahl (Eds.). Children’s reading:Comprehension and assessment (pp. 71-92). Mahwah,NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Knight, S. L., Pardon, Y. N., & Waxman, H. C. (1985). The cognitive reading strategies of ESL students. TESOL Quarterly, 19, 789-792.

Koda, K. (2005). Insights into second language reading. A cross-linguistic approach. Cambrige: Cambridge University Press.

Lee, J. W. and Schallert, D. L. (1997). The relative contribution of L2 language proficiency and L1 reading ability to L2 reading          performance: A Test of the Threshold Hypothesis in an EFL Context. TESOL, 31(4), 713-39.

Maccaro, E. (2001). Learning strategies in foreign and second language classrooms. Continuum. London and New York.

McKeown, M. G., Beck, I. L, & Blake, R. G. K. (2009). Rethinking reading  comprehension instruction: A comparison of instruction for strategies and cont approaches. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(3), 218-253.

Mehrpoor, S. (2004). A causal model of factors affecting reading  comprehension performance of Iranian learners of English as a foreign language. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Shiraz University, Iran.

Mosallae-pour, A. (1997). The impacts of L1 reading comprehension and L2 proficiency on L2 reading comprehension. Master's Thesis, Shiraz Azad University, Iran.

Nation, P. (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and          listening. The Canadian Modern Language Review 63, (1), 59-82.

O’Malley, J. M. & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. New York: Cambridge University Press.

O'Malley, J. M., Chamot, A. U., Stewner-Manzanares, G., Russo, R. P., and Kupper, L. (1985b). Learning strategy applications with students of    English as a second language. TESOL Quarterly, 19, 557-584.  

Oxford, R. (1990). Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know. New York: Newbury House Publishers.

Pani, S. (2003). Reading strategy instruction through mental modeling. ELT Joiurnal, 58 (4), 355-362.

Rausch, A. S. (2000). Language learning strategies instruction and language use  applied to foreign language reading and writing: A simplified "menu"         approach. Literacy Across Cultures, 4, 1, 18-24.

Rusciolelli, J. (1995). Student responses to reading strategies instruction. Foreign Language Annals, 28(2), 262-273.

Salataci, R. & Akyel, A. (2002). Possible effects of strategy instruction on  L1 and  L2 reading. Reading in a foreign language, 14 (1). 234-255. 

Shang, Hui-Fang (2010). Reading strategy use, self-efficacy and EFL reading comprehension. Asian EFL Journal, 12 (2), 18-42.

Shokrpour, N. & Fotovatian, S. (2009). Effects of consciousness raising of metacognitive strategies on EFL students' reading comprehension. ITL – International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 157, 75-92.

Soonthornmanee,  R. (2002). The effect of the reciprocal teaching approach on the reading comprehension of EFL students. RELC Journal, 33, 125-141.

Williams, M., & Burden, R. (1997). Psychology for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wright, M. & Brown, P. (2006). Reading in a modern foreign language: exploring the potential benefits of reading strategy instruction.  Language Learning Journal, 33, 22-33.

Yaali Jahromi, A. (2002). The relationship between Iranian EFL learners' sex, and level of proficiency, and their reading comprehension  strategy use. MA. Thesis, Shiraz Azad University, Iran.

Yamashita, J. (1999). Reading in a first and foreign language: A study of  reading comprehension in Japanese (the L1) and English (the L2). PH.D thesis. Lancaster University, UK.

Yau, J. C. (2005). Two Mandarin readers in Taiwan: Characteristics of children with higher and lower reading proficiency levels. Journal of  Research in Reading, 28(2), 108-123.

Zhicheng, Z. (1992). The effects of teaching reading strategies on improving reading comprehension for ESL learners. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Mid-South Education Association, Knoxv-11c, TN, ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 365643.