FOREWORD
24 students in a fifth form (16 years) were interviewed about their difficulty not only
to read a text in English, but also to understand it.
To the question
« why can’t you understand a text written in English ? »
2/ 3 of the class have admitted that despite having studied English for 4 years at
the rate of 3 hours per week, they felt that, though the recognition of some words
they had met the previous years, their vocabulary gap was such that it was
impossible to establish links between the words themselves to extract meaning.
Then, to the question
« have you ever met difficulty in understanding a text written in French ?
1/3 of the class responded that they had already misunderstood words and/or
misinterpretated what they had read even though the French vocabulary did not pose any
problem.
We agreed that the difficulty of reading comprehension does not reside solely in the
lack of vocabulary but probably in the absence of a method to tackle reading in
general.
READING COMPREHENSION
UNDERSTANDING A TEXT IN ENGLISH
To construct the meaning, let’s learn to deconstruct the text.
From analytical reading to reading pleasure
The barriers to the comprehension
of a text
• The difficulties of concentrating throughout the reading in
an attention to understand.
• Lack of vocabulary.
• Lack of comprehension of the universe of references.
• Lack of methods to understand a text.
• Ignorance of the narrative structure and typology of a
text.
• The difficulty in identifying the logical, chronological
connections. l
• The difficulty to infer, deduce, speculate.
QUESTIONNAIRE
for the student
Goal : To enable the student to understand
how he works and the strategy he makes
use of to understand a text.
What may help me to understand a text
wirtten in English ?
a. illustrations
b. its title
c. a lexical help
d. Some pre-reading activities (brainstorming) on
the
topic, author,
To approach the reading of a text, I’d
rather
a. read silently
b. read out
c. the teacher reads it
What seems most difficult when I
approach an unknown text ?
a. The words
b. the grammar
c. the syntax
d. the lack of knowledge on the topic
What do I do faced with an unknown text ?
• 1st reading
• 2nd reading
a. I spot the words I know.
b. I spot the words I don’t know.
c. I spot the words that seem important to me.
d. I ignore the words/sentences I don’t
understand.
HOW DO I READ ?
a. Very slowly trying to understand every
sentence.
b. Very quickly paying attention only to main
events and/or words I can recognize.
c. By making annotations and underlining
important sentences.
What do « the important words of the
text » mean to me ??
a. grammar (verbs, auxiliaries)
b. The words that help me to understand the text.
c. The words I don’t know.
d. I can’t recognize them.
HOW TO APPROACH READING
• The way of reading depends on the reader’s
reasons to read. The reading techniques vary
depending on the objectives.
• The key is to make the student aware that there
are different techniques to approach a text,
understant it, starting from what he knows.
The different techniques
• Reading aiming at a global compréhension (origin
of the doc, topic : skimming ranging from the title –
anticipation activities – hypotheses - deductions inferences)
• search for informations (search reading)
• identification of specific elements (scanning)
• reading aiming at discovering the author’s
message. (responsive reading)
PRE-REQUISITE TO READ
INDEPENDENTLY
- Inter personal skills
- Know how
- skills
Inter-personal skills
• I must be able to be concentrating
• I must be self-confident and willing to read even if
I don’t know all the words
• I accept to follow the methodological advice that
was given.
KNOW HOW
• I must be able to :
- anticipate
from the title, first paragraph, illustration.
- identify words or key-sentences
- draw the main ideas
- cut the sentences into meaning units
- connect different pieces of information.
- Identify logical links,
- Identify the composition of words, derivation methods,
- Use the dictionary,
- analyze the characters’ behaviour
- perceive the implicit
SKILLS
I appeal to my lexical and grammatical
knowledge.
- Tenses and aspects
- linking words
- Personal pronouns
- Possessive adjectives
- Prepositions
- Nouns and compound adjectives, etc…
PRE-READING ACTIVITIES
They help to make the student confident before approaching
a text he does not know and allow him to deploy the
vocabulary he knows to approach the unknown.
Examples:
- Work around the title or paratext (non-languistic
elements: illustrations, sources ...)
- Work around a word to illustrate the theme
(brainstorming and / or heuristic diagram).
This activity of anticipation will help the student to make
assumptions in questions like : « what do you think the
text is about ? »
HEURISTIC DIAGRAM
GLOBAL COMPREHENSION
Before approaching the reading, students have
to accept the idea that it is not necessary to
understand every word in a text to understand
their meaning, but they can guess some of these
words according to the context, drawing links.
COMPREHENSION SHEET
• Time : information on
: - time
- space time
• place : place(s) mentioned in the text.
• Characters :
- name(s) of the main characters
- name(s )of minor characters
Identifying essential information is a basic principle in approaching a
text.
READING COMPREHENSION
• Look and anticipate :
-
Look at the picture : what can you see ?
What is the title of the text ?
How many paragraphs are there ?
What may the text talk about ?
• Read and select information :
a. Read the text :
what kind of document is it ? Justify your answer
An extract from a novel – an newspaper article – an extract from a play
b. Fill in the grid below
WHO
WHAT
WHERE
WHEN
DETAILED COMPREHENSION
Main characters’ identity cards
Name :
Firstname :
Age :
Occupation :
Physical description :
Psychological portrait :
Other features :
detailed
comprehension
Paragraphs
1.
2.
3.
4.
place
characters
Who? What do they do ? What do they
feel ?
Facts
NARRATION
 Who tells the story ?
- His/her name / role in the story / relations with the other characters he/she
describes.
 Who sees what happens ?
 What are the narrative techniques ?
- 1st/3rd person Narration
- Direct or Indirect speech
- Inner speech
WORK ON THE LEXICON
• Identification of transparent words
• In unknown words, decomposition of the word
(identifying a familiar root).
• Work on derivation and composition.
• Deduce the meaning of unknown words through
clues given by the context.
GRID : Lexical help
Unknown
word
starving
grammatical Context
clue
(previous
/following
word)
Grammatical
category of
the unknown
word
Ing (verbnounadjective) ?
adjectiv
Our (p)
Poor
country(s)
Word
composition
Prefix
Root
suffix
starved
Hypothesis
about the
meaning of
the word
affamé
Verification
in the
dictionary
DETAILED
COMPREHENSION
Paragraphs
1
2
3
4
5
Extract the
details
Identify the
keywords and key
sentences.
Express the
main idea with
your own words.
Schematic presentation of the text
clé dusentence
texte présentant
le sujet the
Key
introducing
Topic.
LINKWORDS
ARGUMENT
EXAMPLE
LINKING WORDS
ARGUMENT
EXAMPLE
LINKING WORDS
ARGUMENT
EXAMPLE
LINKING WORDS
ARGUMENT
EXEMPLE
• This chart can make
the student aware
that a text is
structured, organized
(eg newspaper
articles, essays ...)
CONCLUSION
•
The students will have learnt to:
Work from his skills in his native
language.
Rely on para-textual clues to
identify the nature of the
document and formulate
hypotheses.
Identify significant elements
(syntactic, morphological, lexical,
cultural), enabling him to
reconstruct the meaning of the
text.
Infer the meaning of which is
unknown from what he knows.
•
-
Rely on extralinguistic clues.
- Segmenting the text to
identify key ideas, logical
articulation of the text.
To correlate element of
information.
Pick out information clearly
expressed or implied
and be able to interpret it.
REMARKS
Following the questionnaire submitted to
students, it is clear that they need
methods and tools to approach the
reading of a text, whatever it is.The task of
the teacher will bring students to learn to
ask the right questions to develop reading
skills and therefore understanding.
The Questions should seek to highlight the
organization of the text but also its
contents.
REMARKS
• The study of a text requires several
types of questions:
- Questions of literal comprehension.
- Questions requiring the reorganization of
a text or its re-interpretation.
- Questions requiring inference.
- Questions used to assess the text.
- Questions involving personal reflection.
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