Easing constraints on L2 readers: a blueprint for teaching native texts to high-intermediate non-native speakers
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Reading can be frustrating and alienating for second language (L2) learners, but it is crucial to surviving in an L2 environment ? especially an academic environment. According to Grabe and Stoller (2002, p. 76), a reader must know 95% of the words he or she encounters to read comfortably and fluently. However, many second language learners are unable to reach this threshold when reading university-level native texts. Traditional approaches to teaching reading to language learners such as those outlined in Brown (1994, p. 309) encourage the use of "compensation strategies" to make up for this deficit. In this paper, I will outline a theory of reading that explains reading as a hierarchy of efficient and inefficient processes. Efficient processes include automatic word recognition and automatic phrase recognition while "compensation strategies" fall under inefficient processes and can therefore overwhelm working memory and cause the reader to lose sense of the text as a whole. Based on this theory of reading, instead of encouraging compensation strategies, as suggested by Brown (1994), reading instruction should attempt to intervene in order to make these strategies unnecessary and allow the reader to continue to use his or her efficient processes. After outlining my theory, I explore techniques that intervene at various stages to keep the L2 reader reading comfortably. I look at pre-reading techniques such as schemata building activities that provide a structure of words, images and ideas on which the reader can build comprehension. I also explore techniques for adapting native texts such as simplification, elaboration and glossing as a means of intervening during reading to prevent the reader from resorting to inefficient processes. I conclude with a lesson plan that incorporates these techniques, provides a blueprint for teaching native texts to non-native learners, and makes reading enjoyable for language learners as an example of how to implement this theory into classroom practice.
Plan B Paper. 2014. Master of Arts-TESOL--University of Wisconsin-River Falls. English Department. 65 leaves. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 62-65).