Name: Eka Damaiyanti
The Exploitation Of Pictures In Teaching Vocabulary According To Communicative Approach For First Year Students At Vietnam National University, Hanoi University Of Economics And Business
Written by: Khương Hà Linh
1. Background of Study
Vocabulary, one of the major components of language, reserves a consideration in both teaching and learning English.
In the context of Vietnam National University, Hanoi University of Economics and Business, English is being taught as a compulsory subject for non-major students. As far as the situation of English language learning and teaching is concerned, students have confronted a number of obstacles preventing them from achieving communicative competence.
To overcome these disadvantages, the gap between classroom knowledge and students’ ability in real communication should be bridged.
From the above mentioned reasons, this thesis on exploitation of pictures in teaching vocabulary meets the research demand of the context.
2. Research Questions
1. How have pictures been exploited by teachers in teaching English vocabulary for first year students at Vietnam National University, Hanoi University of Economics and Business?
2. What are the advantages of pictures in teaching vocabulary as perceived by teachers and students?
3. What are the main difficulties in exploiting pictures in teaching vocabulary as perceived by teachers and students?
4. Do teachers and students desire to use pictures in teaching vocabulary?
What are their suggestions for more exhaustible exploitation of pictures in teaching vocabulary?
3. Objective of The Study
The research thesis is expected to find out whether pictures have been exploited, a closer look would be taken at the different ways they are employed. Secondly, the study aims at clarifying the fundamental advantages, disadvantages paving the ways for several pedagogical implications for better employments of pictures in the context of teaching vocabulary to first year students at VNU, HUEB.
The process of data collection involved the participation of both English teachers and first year students at VNU, HUEB.
b. Data collection instruments
Two different sets of questionnaires were utilized, one for the teacher and the other for first-year students.
In terms of structures, the interviews with the teachers aimed at exploring specific and typical types of pictures exploited by the interviewees.
c. Procedures of data collection
The data collection went through three major phases in chronological order: preparing instruments, delivering questionnaires, and interviewing.
d. Data analysis methods and procedure
In the first step, the data collected was classified according to four research questions. Since each research question aimed at exploring an aspect of using pictures to teach vocabulary from teachers and students’ views, it must be answered through the synthesis of information involving the two parties.
5. Findings and Conclusion
Initially, the study confirmed that pictures had been widely exploited in teaching English vocabulary by English teachers at VNU,HUEB in the light of Communicative Language Teaching Approach.
Secondly, the study also detected significant advantages and difficulties of the exploitation of pictures in teaching vocabulary as perceived by both teachers and students. Most of the participants showed their strong agreement on major strong points of using pictures such as making vocabulary more enjoyable, drawing students’ attention, enhancing motivation to learn, boosting students’ abilities to remember and use words for communicative purposes and especially bringing images of the real life into the classroom.
Thirdly, main obstacles for further exploitation of pictures in teaching vocabulary were also elaborated apparently. Among the detected hindrances, the problems of being time-consuming for teachers to choose the suitable pictures and design effective exercises was one of the most momentous ones as perceived by both teachers and students
Finally, it was considerable that there were strong desires of the exploitation of pictures among all of the surveyed students.
The Effect of Keyword and Pictorial Methods on EFL Learners’ Vocabulary Learning and Retention
Writers: Mansoor Tavakoli and Elham Gerami
1. Background of Study
After a long period of relative neglect, language teachers and researchers have recently been cognizant of the fact that vocabulary is an important aspect of language, which is worth investigating. However, learners usually admit that they experience considerable difficulty with vocabulary and many of them identify the acquisition of vocabulary as their greatest source of problems. The problem is to discover which ways or skills will best help learners better learn, retain and retrieve vocabulary. Consequently, it is essential for language teachers to be aware of the effectiveness of different methods of vocabulary teaching to choose the ones that are the most effective to their students; this is what we follow in this experimental study.
ESL/EFL teachers should agree to apply different strategies in teaching vocabulary so that students could easily boost their vocabulary repertoire. For example one such strategy could be the use of mnemonics. Mnemonics are basic kinds of associations or strategies used by learners to increase the retention and retrieval of lexical items (Hatch and Brown, 1995).
The mnemonic technique under investigation in this study is called keyword method for which we can find different definitions in the literature (Holden, 1999; Hustiljn, 1997; Paivio, 1983; Thompson, 1987) the most comprehensive of which is the definition provided by Hulstijn (1997):
The keyword method comprises three strategies: 1- an L1 or L2 word, preferably referring to a concrete entity, is chosen based on acoustic/orthographic similarity with the L2 target word; 2- a strong association between the target word and the keyword must be constructed, so that the learner, when seeing or hearing the word is immediately reminded of the keyword; 3- a visual image must be constructed combining the referents of the keyword and the target word, preferably in a salient, odd, or bizarre fashion in order to increase its memorability. (P. 204)
Although the effectiveness of mnemonics, especially KWM in vocabulary instruction, has been proven in several studies (discussed above), researchers indicate that they should not serve as a substitute for the principles of contextual learning, but must be added to the contextual method when this is necessary and applicable (Hall, Wilson, & Patterson, 1981). Considering the fragility of vocabulary learning through translation-focused input, this study aimed at investigating the effect of two non-verbal methods, the keyword method and the pictorial method, on vocabulary retention.
2. Research Questions
1. Do the different types of instruction on vocabulary (the key-word method, pictorial method and translation) affect learners’ vocabulary development differently?
2. Do the two non-verbal techniques of vocabulary teaching differ significantly in terms of permanency of the acquired items? (Which one leads to the storage of the lexical items in long – term memory?)
3. Objective of Study
Considering language learning conditions in Iran, in which learners usually memorize word lists through translation techniques, there appears a need for students to be presented with some non-verbal techniques of vocabulary teaching to be better able to learn, retain and recall vocabulary. Concerning the important and frequently asked questions of students –“how can we learn vocabulary in an effective way?”–, they usually find vocabulary learning difficult and assert that they can not remember many of the words they have learned. Considering the students’ needs for vocabulary learning and their interest in learning effective techniques for learning new words, the present study was intended to find out the influence of two non-verbal methods of teaching vocabulary and compare them with a traditional verbal method (translation). This study aimed at investigating the effect of two non-verbal methods, the keyword method and the pictorial method, on vocabulary retention.
The population from which the participants were selected for this study included Iranian EFL learners whose first language is Persian. The sample participants who had voluntarily agreed to take part in this study were all female EFL learners in a language school in Isfahan, who enrolled for the 2008 summer English courses . The three groups of the study were then arranged, according to the purpose of the study, in the following ways:
· The first experimental group, EG1, which was supposed to receive the treatment in the form of the keyword method;
· The second experimental group, EG2, which had to receive instruction based on pictorial representation of the words; and
· The third group, as the control group (CG), which was to receive no effective instruction.
For the purpose of data collection, four instruments were prepared, which will be described in order:
4.2.1. The Nelson test
In this study, the Nelson test was used at the beginning of the study for determining the participants’ proficiency level.
4.2.2. Pre-Test of target words
To make sure of the students’ unfamiliarity with the target words, a test of vocabulary was used prior to the experiment.
4.2.3. Immediate post-tests
Five multiple-choice vocabulary-in-short- context tests (quizzes) were constructed in order to test the participants’ short-term memory regarding the instructed lexical items at the end of each session.
4.2.4. Delayed Post-test
An eighty-item recognition vocabulary –in- short- context test was also constructed to measure the learners’ lexical acquisition and recall. The posttest was administered two weeks after the treatment to test retention of the learned words in long-term memory.
After preparing the items and before starting the experiment the tests were piloted with some students similar to the participants of the study in terms of English background to remove any potential flaws and to find out whether the instructions are comprehensible.
4.4 Scoring procedure
As far as the scoring of the Nelson test is concerned, 1 point was given for each correct answer, and zero for each incorrect one. Next, the correct answers to the whole test were added up to a total sum. This total sum was considered in the following procedures for deciding upon language proficiency of learners. Those whose scores were ranging from 15 to 36 were chosen.
5. Finding and Conclusion
As a concluding remark, it can be stated that the mnemonic device used in this study, the keyword method, was shown to be more effective in L2 vocabulary instruction than pictorial method and method of translation in elementary level among the subjects of the present study. Although any generalizations based on the results should be made cautiously and before any interpretation, the limitations imposed on the study must be taken into account. The above-mentioned experimental design procedure was carried out and certain significant findings were obtained as are presented here in brief:
· The subjects in the first experimental group, which received instruction based on the keyword method, were able to more successfully develop the learned items compared with the second experimental group that received pictorial instruction and the control group that received ineffective instruction in the form of translation.
· The difference between the second experimental group and the control group in terms of vocabulary development was not significant. That is, no difference was observed between pictorial and translation techniques in terms of their influences on vocabulary learning.
· The subjects in the first experimental group were more successful in retaining the words in their long-term memory compared with the subjects in the second experimental group. This underscores the significant role played by keyword method in vocabulary retention.
All the subjects have more or less achievements regarding their vocabulary repertoire (so translation was less effective rather than ineffective).
Therefore, this study seems to have almost been able to show that the use of the keyword method, which is an innovative method, can largely reduce learners’ problems in the acquisition and retention of L2 words. The findings obtained in this study specify that the use of visual imagery is the cornerstone of how the keyword method works. This is somewhat similar to what Shapiro & Waters (2005) demonstrate in their study. Although the KWM has proved to be helpful, the principle features of context for teaching L2 vocabulary should not be overlooked by teachers and learners.
The findings obtained in this study may lead to a number of implications which could possibly be beneficial for language practitioners, teachers and students in an EFL context. First, this research is probably a call for language teachers, practitioners and researchers in language teaching and learning to pay more attention to L2 vocabulary teaching techniques. The findings may encourage teachers who still use the traditional verbal method of translation in their teaching to change their viewpoint in favor of a nonverbal method of teaching vocabulary. The result may especially be of great value to high-school teachers in an EFL context who are usually faced with the students’ request for information about effective techniques of vocabulary learning.
Second, the findings of this study are also useful for teacher trainers to incorporate appropriate and practical techniques for instruction of vocabulary in their existing training courses. This way, teachers themselves would be informed of different vocabulary teaching techniques and will develop positive attitudes toward the incorporation of the best techniques into their conventional teaching programs.
In the long run, syllabus designers and textbook writers will also benefit from the results of this study; different mnemonics can be introduced within the graded vocabulary books and other materials in accordance to the level of the students for whom the material is designed.
(Friday, January 10th 2014 at 6.20 p.m)
Using Word-Search-puzzle Games for Improving Vocabulary Knowledge of Iranian EFL Learners
Writers: Hossein Vossoughi and Marzieh Zargar
1. Background of Study
Words are the tools we use to think, to express ideas and feelings, and to learn about the world. Because words are the very foundation of learning, improving students’ vocabulary knowledge has become an educational priority. Student word knowledge is strongly linked to academic accomplishment, because a rich vocabulary is essential to successful reading comprehension. Furthermore, the verbal sections of the high-stake standardized tests used in most states to gauge student performance are basically tests of vocabulary and reading comprehension. (Johnson & Johnson, 2004)
Thornbury (2002) states that lack of vocabulary knowledge impedes language comprehension and production. Michael (2006) similarly holds that knowledge of vocabulary is the most important factor in showing a learner’s abilities in listening and speaking. Allen (1983) also states that in order to get native-like mastery over a language, learners must learn thousands of words. It can be concluded that that without words to express a wider range of meanings, communication in an L2 just cannot happen in any meaningful way (McCarthy, 1990).
Learning vocabulary has been considered a boring subject for a long time and the traditional way of learning vocabulary by mere copying and remembering has shown to be less than effective. Many experts of language teaching methodology also agree that playing games is a good way to learn vocabulary. Games are associated with a feeling of happiness. For this reason, most learners appreciate games and enjoy to participate in them even if they are not familiar with their rules.
Word-search-puzzle game is one of many instructional games that reinforce word-level onto a grid and persuades the class to make suggestions for the puzzle clues. A simpler but still popular alternative word puzzle is the word-search. The object of word-search-puzzle is to find the listed hidden words. This game is good to review general vocabulary, without ever tiring the students. In most of the puzzles, there are at least 40 words. The words may be hidden in any direction: horizontally, vertically, diagonally, and forwards and backwards.
Although some valuable attempts have been made to improve the vocabulary development of EFL learners, the outcomes, have been unsatisfactory yet. It seems quite necessary to change the method of teaching vocabulary by using enjoyable games. Playing vocabulary games is one of the techniques which require students to dynamically participate in the classroom activities and thus communicate with their classmates using their own language.
2. Research Question
1. Does the use of word-search-puzzle game have any significant effect on vocabulary development of intermediate EFL learners?
3. Objective of Study
Learning vocabulary through games is an effective and interesting way that can be applied in any EFL classroom and make the lessons more fascinating for the language learners. The aim of this study is to check the effectiveness of using of games in teaching vocabulary.
The participants of the study were initially 100 female Iranian EFL students. They were all native speakers of Farsi with the age range of 18 to 25 and were studying English in an English institute in Semnan.
Two instruments were used in this study. The first instrument was a standard CELT which was used to assure the homogeneity of the subjects. The second test was a standardized teacher-made vocabulary test consisting of 45 multiple-choice items, administered to evaluate the dependent variable of vocabulary knowledge at the beginning and at the end of the study.
The procedure of the study can be summarized into several steps. As a preliminary step, a standard proficiency test (CELT), was administered to100 students who were studying at a language institute in Semnan and 60 students were chosen to participate in the main study. The researcher divided the subjects into two groups namely a control group and an experimental group.
The next step was to pilot a multiple-choice test of vocabulary. For this reason, the test was administered to a similar group of 20 students in the same language institute. Then, based on the scores obtained, item facility, item discrimination, and choice distribution were calculated and some of the items were revised or omitted. The final version with 45 items was subjectged to the KR-21 formula and the reliability estimate (r = 0.91) came out to be more than satisfactory. This test was administered to the participants of the study both as the pre-test and the post-test.
The instruction in both groups lasted for 8 sessions. The textbook of thiscourse was New Interchange, Intermediate. The students of the experimental group received word-search-puzzle game instruction to practice and review their vocabularies for 25 minutes at the end of each session. The object of the word-search-puzzle game was to find and circle all of the words hidden in the grid, the list of the hidden words was provided by the researcher in advance. The words had been placed horizontally, vertically, or diagonally and sometimes they had been written backwards. Furthermore, three secret synonyms of green words were hidden in each word search, the secret synonyms were created by the letters which had been placed horizontally and were not used in any word within the puzzle. In this game, any student who could find the hidden words sooner and correct secret synonyms would win.
In the control group, however, the students received the usual training based on the procedures suggested in the Teachers’ Book of New Interchange, and worked with the vocabulary and grammar through contexts and exercises.
Finally after the treatment the same vocabulary test was administered as the posttest to the experimental and control groups. To examine whether there was a statistically significant difference between the two groups, a t-test was run.
5. Finding and Conclusion
The finding of this study shows that games can afford a valuable technique in language classroom for students at intermediate level and hence can be used to facilitate the process of vocabulary learning. The exciting nature of playing games can facilitate the vocabulary learning process. Language games are suitable evaluation tools in the hands of teachers. They quickly reveal the depth of students understanding and reinforce their previous knowledge. The teacher needs to argue that, through games, learners are given opportunities to meet and explore new vocabulary without direct teacher assistance. In this case, the results are especially of great value to teachers in Iran who despite devoting much time to vocabulary teaching encounter various problems in teaching vocabulary to the learners. The finding of this study may also help syllabus designers and textbook writers to embody sections related to pedagogical games in the materials they develop.
(Friday, January 10th 2014 at 6.33 p.m.)
Teaching Reading Strategies in an Ongoing EFL University Reading Classroom
Writer: Mi-jeong Song
1. Background of Study
Reading strategies indicate how readers conceive a task, what textual cues they attend to, how they make sense of what they read, and what they do when they do not understand (Block, 1986). They range from simple fix-up strategies such as simply rereading difficult segments and guessing the meaning of an unknown word from context, to more comprehensive strategies such as summarizing and relating what is being read to the reader's background knowledge (Janzen, 1996).
Research into reading strategies of native English speakers has concentrated on describing those strategies which are involved in understanding. A vast amount of research in first language reading and reading strategies has found that good readers are better at monitoring their comprehension than poor readers, that they are more aware of the strategies they use than are poor readers, and that they use strategies more flexibly and efficiently (Garner, 1987; Pressley, Beard El-Dinary, & Brown, 1992). For example, good readers distinguish between important information and details as they read and are able to use clues in the text to anticipate information and/or relate new information to information already stated. They are also able to notice inconsistencies in a text and employ strategies to make these inconsistencies understandable (Baker & Brown, 1984; Garner, 1980).
Since the late 1970's, many ESL researchers have also begun to recognize the importance of the strategies ESL students use while reading. Several empirical investigations have been conducted on reading strategies and their relationships to successful and unsuccessful second language reading (Hosenfeld, 1977; Knight, Pardon, & Waxman, 1985; Block, 1986; Jimenez, Garcia, & Pearson, 1995). Research in second language reading has also demonstrated that strategy use is different in more and less proficient readers, and that more proficient readers use different types of strategies, and they use them in different ways. In addition, strategy research has begun to focus on metacognition, knowledge about cognition. These studies have investigated metacognitive awareness of, or perceptions about, strategies and the relationships among awareness or perception of strategies, strategy use, and reading comprehension (Barnett, 1988; Carrell, 1989).
Moreover, in recent years, a great deal of research in L1 and L2 fields has been conducted on reading strategy training. Strategy training comes from the assumption that success in learning mainly depends on appropriate strategy use and that unsuccessful learners can improve their learning by being trained to use effective strategies (Dansereau, 1985; Weinstein & Underwood, 1985). Many studies have shown that reading strategies can be taught to students, and when taught, strategies help improve student performance on tests of comprehension and recall (Carrell, 1985; Brown & Palincsar, 1989; Carrell, Pharis, & Liberto, 1989; Pearson & Fielding, 1991). No research, however, has been done that relates to training reading strategies in an ongoing classroom reading program, particularly in an EFL reading classroom context.
The present study was motivated by the reading strategy training approach of Brown and Palincsar (1984). In their teaching approach, students were taught four concrete reading strategies: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting. From the study, they found that the strategy training was effective in enhancing the reading ability of the students. Brown and Palincsar's (1984) study, however, was not conducted in an ESL/EFL setting. The subjects of their study were 7th grade native speakers of English, and the study was not carried out in a classroom setting: the teacher gave each subject individual training. In other words, like most reading strategies training studies, the study was not done in an ongoing regular reading class.
2. Research Question
1. Does strategy training enhance EFL college students' reading proficiency?
2. How is the effectiveness of strategy training related to students' reading proficiency?
3. Which types of reading comprehension questions are influenced most by the teaching method?
3. Objective of Study
Therefore, the first objective of the present study was to investigate whether the training approach of Brown and Palincsar (1984) can be successfully adapted to an EFL university reading classroom situation. That is, it investigated whether the training method is effective in enhancing EFL tertiary students' reading comprehension ability. In addition, since this study was conducted in a university general English reading class where students' reading proficiency was mixed, the second objective of this study was to find out how students with different reading proficiency are influenced by the training method. Since the teaching method of Brown and Palincsar was tried with students whose reading ability is low, it was important to examine the effectiveness of the teaching method on students with intermediate and high levels of reading proficiency. Finally, among the three types of reading comprehension questions such as main idea, inference, and detailed questions, this study examined the types of questions which are affected by the training method.
The subjects consisted of 68 first-year tertiary students majoring in Archeology, Esthetics, and Religion at a university in Korea. These subjects were enrolled in a College English for Liberal Arts course in the spring semester of 1996.
A reading proficiency pre-test was constructed to divide the subjects into three different reading proficiency levels. The pre-test included 40 multiple-choice items and consisted of 6 passages, ranging from 302 to 333 words in length.
c. Testing Procedures
One day prior to the onset of the training, all subjects were given a reading comprehension pre-test. Fourteen weeks later, when the subjects finished the 42-hour-long training, all subjects were given the same reading comprehension test as a post-test. The rationale for using exactly the same test for both pre- and post-testing was to assure an exactly comparable test, thus avoiding the problem of equating different forms of pre-test and post-test. The fourteen-week interval between administration was deemed long enough to control for any short-term memory effect; since subjects were not provided with the correct answers after the pre-test, even were they to remember how they had answered a question the first time, they had no way of knowing whether that answer was correct. Moreover, any effects due to experience with the test would be comparable for each of the three groups. And, finally, one of the most common types of test reliability in psychometrics consists of such test-retest reliability.
5. Finding and Conclusion
The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of strategy training on the reading ability of EFL university students. It also aimed to obtain answers for the differential effect of the strategy training on students' reading proficiency level and types of reading comprehension questions. The findings of the study showed that the reading strategy training does improve EFL college students' reading proficiency. Furthermore, the present study demonstrated that less able readers might benefit more from the training than more able readers. The amount of gains made by the low and the intermediate reading proficiency group was found to be much greater than that made by the high proficiency reading group. Finally, the study revealed that the students' ability of grasping main ideas and of making inferences from given passages was significantly enhanced. These findings suggest that strategies can be taught, which will help EFL tertiary students improve their reading comprehension ability.
Given that one of the most important goals of teaching reading is to help our students develop as strategic and independent readers, several suggestions for EFL reading teachers can be made on the basis of the findings of the study. First, strategies should be taught through direct explanation, explicit teacher modeling, and extensive feedback. In addition, students should never be in doubt as to what the strategies are, where and when they can be used, and how they are used. More importantly, they should be informed of the value and usefulness of strategies in L2 reading. Second, EFL readers, particularly less capable EFL readers, should be given intensive and direct strategy training for a long period. As Gaskins (1994) claims, teaching of strategies without direct explanation and explicit teacher modeling for a short period would not have a long-term effect on students and effectively help them develop as strategic readers. In conclusion, the results of the study suggest that foreign language reading pedagogy, especially for adult students in academic settings, would benefit from the inclusion of explicit and direct strategy training.
http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/ajelt/vol8/art3.htm (Friday, January 10th 2014 at 6.00 p.m.)
Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies to Iranian EFL Pre-University Students
Writers: S. Mehrpour, Sadighi, Z. Bagheri
1. Background of study
An important part of learning a foreign language is mastering learning. Mastering the fundamentals of learning not only can help language learners in learning vocabulary, acquiring basic structures, and improving the necessary linguistic and communication skills, but it also helps the learners to be in active control of their own learning processes. The process of becoming successful at learning creates learners who are autonomous and employ individualized approaches to learning objectives. Paying direct attention to the process of learning and gaining mastery over the language content results in learning the content more successfully, and contributes to the development of life long learners (Rausch, 2000). O'Malley and Chamot are two of prominent figures in specifying learning strategies and conducting research on them. O'Malleyet al. (1985b) categorized learning strategies under three main categories: metacognitive, cognitive and socioaffective. They also studied the use of strategies by ESL learners in the United States.
The application of learning strategies was later on extended to more specific domains of language such as teaching and learning language skills. For instance, since the late 1970's, many ESL/EFL researchers have begun to recognize the importance of the strategies students use while reading. Some empirical studies have been carried out on reading strategies and their relationships to successful and unsuccessful L2 reading (Hosenfeld, 1977; Knight, Pardon, & Waxman, 1985; Jimenez, Garcia, & Pearson, 1995). It is also the goal of language strategy instruction (Oxford, 1990). Williams and Burden (1997) for example, have pointed out that language teachers should go beyond the transmission of knowledge and should empower students by helping them to acquire the knowledge, skills, and strategies needed to become autonomous learners who can take responsibility for their own learning.
From among various types of learning strategies, reading comprehension strategies have long been recognized by researchers of second/foreign language reading (Brantmeier, 2002; Janzen, 1996; and Slataci & Akyel, 2002). Reading strategies have been defined by some theorists. They are referred to as mental operations which are used by readers when they read a text and try to understand it effectively (Barnett, 1988).
In fact, reading strategies show how readers conceive a task, what textual cues they attend to, how they make sense of what they read, and what they do when they do not understand. Reading strategies range from simple fix-up strategies such as simply rereading difficult segments and guessing the meaning of an unknown word from context, to more comprehensive strategies such as summarizing and relating what is being read to the reader's background knowledge. Generally, researchers claim that strategy use is different in more and less proficient readers, in that they use the strategies in different ways (Carrell, 1989). As a matter of fact, reading comprehension strategies separate the passive, unskilled reader from the active reader. Skilled readers don't just read, they interact with the text.
Many reaserches have indicated that teachers can teach reading strategies to students and when they are learned, this can help them enhance their performance on tests which involve comprehension and recall of what is read (Carrell, 1985; Brown & Palincsar, 1989; Carrell, Pharis, & Liberto, 1989; Pearson & Fielding, 1991). Studies conducted on reading instruction and reading strategies (e.g., Davis, 2010; Khosravi, 2000; Salataci & Akyel, 2002; and Wright & Brown (2006), Shokrpour & Fotovatian (2009) indicated that reading comprehension strategy instruction had either a positive effect on learners' reading comprehension ability or their awareness of reading comprehension strategies.
Reading strategies are taught in a sequence of various steps. In a model proposed by Maccaro (2001), as shown in Figure 1, nine steps should be considered in instructing reading strategies.
2. Research Questions
Accordingly, this study aimed at finding answers to the following research questions:
1. Does strategy instruction significantly enhance the learners' awareness of reading strategies?
2. Does strategy instruction significantly help learners succeed in extending the range of strategies they employ to involve both topdown and bottom-up processing?
3. Does strategy instruction significantly enhance learners' reading ability?
4. How is the effectiveness of strategy instruction related to the learners' reading ability?
3. Objective of Study
This study intended to investigate the effect of teaching reading strategies which actively engage the learner and the effect of repeated practice of such strategies on raising the learner readers’ awareness of the strategies. It attempted to explore the potential of strategy instruction in extending the range of strategies that learners (in this case, a group of pre-university students in an EFL context) employ. Secondly, it investigated whether the training method was effective in enhancing the learners' reading comprehension ability. Since this study was conducted in a class where the students' reading ability was mixed, an attempt was made to find out how students with different reading ability levels were influenced by reading strategy instruction. The present study enjoys significance in that it can provide an insight to the effect of reading strategy instruction on learners' performance and their awareness of reading strategies. In fact, reading strategy instruction, due to its complexity, has rarely been conducted in an EFL context such as Iran.
This study was conducted using two groups of 90 female pre-university students in a pre-university center. They ranged in age from 17 to 19 and had already studied English for 6 years at school.
One group consisting of 55 students served as the experimental group. The students in this group were divided into three reading ability levels based on their scores in the reading pre-test: low (with scores one standard deviation below the mean), intermediate (with scores between one standard deviation below and above the mean) and high (with scores one standard deviation above the mean).
In order to gather data, two instruments were employed in this study:
· Reading proficiency test
The texts which were employed during the instructional practice procedure were taken from the subjects' English text-book. The passages contained around 650 words, with the average readability of 57.27. Because of the length of the chosen passages, each passage was covered in two or even more sessions. The texts included different topics such as earthquakes, IT, child labor, space exploration and the great people.
e. Data Analysis
Prior to the experiment and in order to make sure that no significant difference in terms of reading comprehension ability existed between the two groups, the reading comprehension pre-test was administered to both control and experimental groups. An independent samples t-test was then run to see if the two groups performed significantly differently on the reading comprehension pre-test or not. The results obtained from this statistical analysis (Table 1) revealed that the two groups did not differ significantly in their performance on the reading comprehension pre-test.
5. Finding and Conclusion
Based on the limited data generated from and analyzed in this study, one cannot make big claims regarding the gerneralizability of the findings. The results show that reading strategy instruction can lead to the use of an extended range of reading strategies by the learner readers. Other factors such as the nature of the texts as well as problems in self-report data may intervene. However, the results pointed to the fact that learners' awareness of strategies and their ability to use them while reading did increase. The findings of this study offer several pedagogical implications for teaching reading comprehension in EFL contexts.
1. Consciousness-raising can play an important role in teaching reading comprehension strategies as the findings suggest. Therefore, teachers can implement this technique in the process of teaching reading and help the learners make significant improvements.
2. Readers with various reading abilities among general and lower level language proficiency students in particular, according to the results of the interviews, might benefit from an instructional procedure where they learn to monitor their comprehension and use the various strategies with the help of a teacher who models the steps of the instructional process, and where they discuss their strategies while reading the text.
3. The results of this study point to the need to teach reading in L2 by changing the focus, material, method, and attitude based on the readers' L2 proficiency level. In doing so, we should teach beginning L2 learners in a way that they can acquire the language proficiency in order to develop their L2 reading comprehension. This might be carried out through texts carefully chosen to support the development of language proficiency.
4. Regarding the advantages of reading strategy instruction, though the results of the present study indicated marginal effects of reading strategy instruction on learners' reading comprehension ability, it seems necessary for teachers to be trained in strategy instruction and assessment. They should actually receive direct instruction on how to teach strategies inside their classrooms. In addition, Cohen, Weaver, and Li (1998) advise teachers to systematically introduce and reinforce learning strategies that help the students to use the target language more effectively and thus improve their performance and help them develop as strategic and independent readers.
Friday, January 10th 2014 at 6.25 p.m.