Evaluating reading strategies instruction
Cekiso, Mzwamadoda Phillip
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There is a generally accepted reality among first and second language reading researchers and practitioners that learners who study in a second or foreign language are almost always at a disadvantage, particularly in the area of reading. In light of this learners who register for high school study each year in South Africa are very often under prepared for high school education and many of these learners also have low levels of reading ability. This has an adverse effect on their chances of academic success. In order to meet the reading needs of these learners, educators need to develop effective instructional means for teaching reading comprehension and reading strategy use. It is evident from the volume and quality of research published that the teaching of reading strategies enhances the learners' reading comprehension ability. The purpose of this study was to: • determine what reading strategies Grade 11 ESL learners use; • determine what reading strategies should be taught; • determine how and when reading strategies should be taught in the ESL classroom; • determine what the effect of an implemented reading strategy programme is on the reading comprehension of the Grade 11 ESL learners participating in this study; and • provide guidelines in terms of the composition (i.e. format, outcomes, content, teaching method 1 approach, etc.) of a reading strategy instruction programme. In this study a quasi-experimental pretest - posttest control group design was used. The participants in this study included a total of 60 Grade 11 ESL learners from a high school in the Eastern Cape. Two intact randomly selected classes participated in the study. Both males and females participated in the study and ranged in age from 18 - 22 years. The Reading Performance Test in English: Advanced Level (Roux, 1996) and a Reading Strategy Questionnaire based on the work of Oxford (1990), Pressley and Afflerbach (1995) and Pressley et al. (1995) was used in this study. A t-test was used to determine whether the mean scores of the experimental and control group differed statistically significantly from each other. Cohen's (1977) effect size d was used to determine whether the mean differences were practically significant. The results of the study can be summarized as follows: The results indicated that the learners who followed the reading strategy programme and received strategic reading instruction (experimental group) obtained both statistically and practically significantly higher marks on the reading comprehension test (posttest) than did the learners in the control group. The posttest results indicated that the learners in the experimental group used certain strategies statistically (p<0.05), as well as practically significantly (small to large effect size), more often than the learners in the control group. The reading instruction programme developed in this study focuses on five reading strategies, namely guessing the meaning of words from the context, making inferences, predicting what is to come in a text, identifying the main idea and summarising. The programme presents an overview of the guidelines for a reading strategy instruction programme. It outlines the purpose, target group, content and other aspects, instruction, classroom procedure and assessment concerning a meaningful reading strategy instruction programme. English Second Language teachers may find it worth their while to implement reading strategy training models of a similar nature in order to develop their learners' proficiency in reading comprehension and reading strategy use.
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