predictive strategies in teaching reading comprehension

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  • Jumal Pendidik dan Pendidikan, Jilid 14, 1995

    Predictive Strategies In Teaching Reading Comprehension

    SARAH THOMAS, Pusat Bahasa dan Terjemahan, Universiti Sains Malaysia

    ABSTRAK Kertas ini membentangkan satu pemerian kategori- kategori ramalan denganmenganalisis rencana-rencana penyelidikan sains dengan harapan ia dapat digunakan untuk pengajarandi dalam kelas. Perspektif saling berinteraksi pembaca-penulis dalam teks melalui kaedah peramalan(Tadros, 1988) akan digunakan sebagai dasar perbincangan.

    Peranan beberapa kaedah peramalan telah dikaji dan hasilkajiannya menunjukkan bahawa sesetengahkategori peramalan memainkan peranan penting dalam penyusunan teks. Kategori peramalan inimerupakan ciri umum yang mungkin menjadi sebahagian daripada pengetahuan skema yang ada padapembaca berpengalaman. Hasil daripada kesedaran ten tang pentingnya membantu pelajar memperolehpengetahuan skema untuk membaca rencana penye/idikan sains menyebabkan kami membuat kesimpulanbahawa pendekatan peramalan mempunyai imp/ikasi yang penting dalam pengajaran kefahamanmembaca dan penu/isan untuk kursus Bahasa Inggeris Keperluan Khas dan Bahasa Inggeris KeperluanAkademik bagi pelajar universiti.

    Kaedah-kaedah peramalan yang digunakan oleh pengarang rencana penye/idikan sains dan ah/i bahasadalam bidang kajian ini dapat diajarkan dengan menyerapkannya ke dalam aktiviti pengajaran danbahan pengajaran yang digunakan di dalam kelas. Dengan ini pelajar akan mengetahui ciri-ciri sertasusunan skema rencana yang berunsurkan penye/idikan. Melalui cara ini, kefahaman dan penu/isanpelajar ten tang genre jurnal sains akan dapat ditingkatkan lagi.


    A key factor underlying the development of reading comprehension courses at the tertiary level is the needto assist undergraduate students whose ability to cope with academic texts is affected because ofinadequate English. The last decade has seen the proliferation of English Specific Purposes courses inaddition to general English Language Teaching courses in tertiary institutions. In such ESP courses,language skills are taught in combination with content from specific disciplines. The courses areessentially concerned with the language and content typical of the specific kinds of texts that students of,for example, science or medicine are required' to read. A large proportion of these courses utilize textsfrom the specific discipline as the focus for reading comprehension. The courses have to be designed tohelp "develop a reader's ability to interpret and extract, with speed and efficiency, information requiredfrom University textbooks and reference articles.

    One might expect that an important objective of ESP courses would be to bring about a development ofgeneral reading comprehension skills and strategies so that, eventually, learners are able to acquire suchtexts independently. However, very often, the activities and tasks to exploit these texts focus on

  • 104 Sarah Thomas

    isolated and local features of the particular text immediately facing the learner. They do not lead thelearner to develop appropriate schemata and generalised approaches and strategies which can betransferred and applied to any kind of reading that he/she is confronted with in the real world.More specifically, it is necessary to help the readers become familiar with the organisational structuresand patternings of the particular types of written discourse characteristic of their disciplines.

    Ineffectual reading comprehension is often attributable to the learner-reader's lack of skill in calling upthe appropriate schemata, the structures and patternings referred to above, to allow adequatecomprehension of these text types.

    The notion of schemata (Bartlett,1932; Rummelhart, 1984; Sanford and Garrod, 1981) is one that iscentral to the theoretical basis underlying ESP type reading comprehension courses. It refers to themental store of expectations, abstract concepts and prior knowledge developed on the basis of ourexperiences in the world around us. Such knowledge acts as a framework for the interpretation of newinformation. There are content schemata and also formal or rhetorical schemata (Carrell, 1983). Ourconcern in this paper is with the latter, which relates to the structures and patterns of the organisation oftexts. If the learner-reader already possesses the appropriate schematic frameworks for processing texts,then the task of reading and comprehending new texts is facilitated to a much greater extent.

    One aspect of research into language in use which has particular relevance for language teachingapplications is the genre analysis of recent years. This is an approach which attempts to distinguishdifferent text types in written discourse by identifying how particular linguistic features take on differentfunctional roles and values in these text types or genres. Genre analysis is thus concerned with the formalor rhetorical schemata typical of different text types. The insights provided by such research findings andthe clearer understanding of the nature of texts should provide the basis of pedagogic decisions andteaching materials in ESP courses. The effectiveness of reading comprehension and writing courses areenhanced if learners are helped to develop appropriate schemata about the text types in their specificdisciplines. Thus it is essential that reading comprehension courses have a firm foundation based on acareful and detailed study of the nature of the texts that one is dealing with.

    The journal article is one specialist genre which undergraduate and postgraduate learner-readers andwriters in ESP contexts need to master in order to progress .in the study of their disciplines. These readersare generally familiar with the textbook genre but not with the journal article which has quite differenttext features and organisational patterns. Thus they may not have had opportunities to develop the formalschemata necessary for effective reading comprehension of journal articles.

    The Study and Its Purpose

    The present study intends to investigate and describe some of the key features of journal articles whichform part of the rhetorical schemata that learner-readers need to be familiar with to enable them to readsuch texts quickly and efficiently. Such a study is considered to have an eye to pedagogic application inmaking decisions in developing teaching materials for ESP courses at the tertiary level.

  • Predictive Strategies In Teaching Reading Comprehension 105

    The Literature and Theoretical Framework

    Current research into the interactive nature of written discourse has focused on features shared by textsin general (Hoey 1983, Winter 1977) and also on generic features and organisational patterns which aretypically associated with particular text types with the intention of accounting for the purposes andcommunicative goals the texts set out to achieve (Swales 1990, Bhatia 1993).

    The generic descriptions generated by some of these studies have helped in the identification of theirrhetorical structures considered important in helping leamer-readers acquire the necessary schemata forreading and quick comprehension. One such study which has developed a particularly specific approachto identifying text features, and the only one which focuses on the important feature of prediction, is thatof Tadros (1981). This model was developed for examining the interactivity of written te,,1:sand the waysin which writers set up expectancies in their readers. The basic assumption is that written texts involveinteraction between reader and writer. The text is written with the reader in mind. One aspect ofinteraction is the feature of prediction in written texts.

    According to this notion, the writer shows his awareness of and consideration for the reader by setting upsignals and cues which hint at the organisation and presentation of subsequent information. It isawareness of such organisational patterns and signals which make up the rhetorical schemata of a skilledreader. The reader picks up these signals and on this basis is able to actively predict the kind ofinformation the writer will present next.

    Tadros identifies six categories of prediction and sets up the criteria for classifying them. Thesepredictive devices are particular linguistic signals that predict the occurrence of following texts withparticular functions. Tadros claims that prediction is fundamental and pervasive and that it accounts to alarge extent for the organisation of all kinds of texts.

    Six categories of prediction have been identified:

    1) Enumeration

    This is a device by which a writer indicates an intention to list a number of items. Itpredicts a specification of these items. An example of this type of prediction is: Threefactors can be identified.

    2) Advance Labelling: This is a predictive device which the writer uses to spell out what he isgoing to do in the next part of the text. This statement of intention thus predicts what will followthe text. It helps the writer prepare the reader for what is to come. An example is: It isnecessary to define consumption. This kind of advance labelling predicts that the followingtext will contain the definition of the term consumption.

    3) Reporting: This is a means of attributing some idea to another source by direct speech, indirectspeech and other modes. This then predicts that the writer will evaluate what was reported. Anexample is: It has been claimed that ... The predicted evaluation will generally be a negativeevaluation of whatever has been claimed.

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    4) Hypotheticality

    When writers wish to lead in to some kind of generalisation they often do this by creating asimplified set of circumstances which do not exist in reality. By doing this they can consideronly those factors that allow the generalisati


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