Approaches to teaching reading
All good literacy practice starts with the needs of the individual student. The materials you use are crucial for addressing the specific needs of the student and for maintaining motivation and interest. It is sometimes difficult for new tutors to grasp that there is no curriculum to follow. The ‘language experience’ approach or ‘Cloze’ procedure discussed in this section demonstrate what effective materials might look like.
The Language Experience Approach
The language experience approach uses a student’s own language and grammar to create reading materials. In simple terms, they tell you a story and you write it down for them to read.
What are the advantages of using language experience?
- It is based on the student’s own vocabulary.
- It involves the student and gives them a sense of ownership of the material.
- It provides instant reading material for beginner readers.
- It can provide a bank of essential sight words.
- It can encourage writing activities.
How do you generate the text?
- Use open-ended questions to generate discussion with your student.
- Write down verbatim a few sentences which have been dictated by the student.
- Do not change grammar or syntax, but clarify with the student that you have written down what they intended to say.
How can you use the text?
- Discuss the piece with your student and show an interest in the text.
- Read the piece to the student and then read the piece together.
- Point out unusual words.
- Cut out the first sentence and ask the student to read it.
- When the student seems confident reading the sentence, cut it up into individual words.
- Mix the words up and see if the student can put them together to form the sentence.
- Repeat this exercise with the other sentences.
- You can also ask the student to create new sentences with the cut up words and to read them aloud.
Cloze procedure is a method which encourages learners to develop and rely upon their own ability to predict meaning in what they are reading, through the use of context clues and their own previous knowledge.
The method involves deleting certain words or letters from a text and leaving an underlined blank space. Learners can then read the passage to themselves, guessing at the missing words or letters and filling in the blanks. It should be emphasized that there are no right or wrong answers – whatever makes sense when read back is okay.
It is important to avoid leaving too many blank spaces because the reader may become frustrated by the break in the flow of their reading. About one deletion for every ten words is the maximum recommended. Read the Cloze passage yourself to check that it isn’t too difficult and that not too much meaning has been lost through deletion.
The Cloze method can be used for a number of different purposes:
- To assess comprehension. Using Clozeprocedure gives a good idea of the reader’s potential for understanding a passage. Cloze can test:
- word recognition
- the use of semantic and syntactical information to predict
- ability to seek meaning outside the context of the immediate sentence
- To develop prediction skills for reading. It is best to eliminate words central to the meaning of the passage, so that an appropriate word should spring easily to mind.
- To emphasize grammatical points. In this case it is best to leave out only those words that are the same part of speech (e.g. adjectives, adverbs, prepositions etc.).
- To highlight spelling patterns. As with grammatical points, you can eliminate words that begin or end with the same letter combinations, vowel sounds or rhyming patterns.