English L2 Reading: Getting to the Bottom

English L2 Reading: Getting to the Bottom

English L2 Reading: Getting to the Bottom

English L2 Reading: Getting to the Bottom

Synopsis

This book is a comprehensive, myth-debunking examination of how L1 features (orthographic system, phonology, morphology) can influence English L2 reading at the "bottom" of the reading process. It provides a thorough but very accessible linguistic/psycholinguistic examination of the lowest levels of the reading process. It is both theoretical and practical. Although the methodologies and approaches taken in most ESL/EFL texts about reading are top-down (cognition driven), and pay scant attention to the bottom of the reading process, those detailed in this book are language driven. The goal is to balance or supplement (not replace) top-down approaches and methodologies with effective low-level options for teaching English reading. Core linguistic and psycholinguistic concepts are presented within the context of their application to teaching. English L2 Reading: Getting to the Bottom clearly explains the strategies that readers of other languages develop in response to their own writing systems (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, other alphabets, or transparent Roman alphabetic systems) contrasted with an explanation of the strategies that English readers develop in response to the opaque orthography of English, and explicates how other low-level processing strategies for L1 morphology and word formation may aid or hinder processing in English L2 reading acquisition. A complete, balanced reading ideology should be big enough to embrace all reading theories and practices. In particular, it should be able to accommodate those researchers and teachers who find that attention to the details of language can also help students learn to read better. Many ESL/EFL teachers are interested in supplementing their successful whole-language methods with bottom-up reading strategies, but aren't sure how to do it. This book fills that gap. Intended for ESL/EFL reading researchers, teacher trainers and teachers, and as a text for MATESOL students, most chapters contain practical suggestions that teachers can incorporate into whole language methods to teach beginning or intermediate ESL/EFL reading (letters, pronunciation, "smart" phonics, morphemes, and vocabulary acquisition) in a more balanced way. Pre-reading discussion and study questions are provided to stimulate interest and enhance comprehension. End-of-chapter exercises help readers apply the concepts.

Excerpt

An ideology is more than just a theory or a practice. It is a complex body of interrelated concepts, opinions, and assumptions about an area of culture. Different ideologies are the foundations for different social positions. Nowhere is this truer than in education and in education, nowhere is this truer than in the area of reading research and methodology. One ideology has dominated second language reading for quite a while. This ideology, usually called “whole language, ” has many ideas and practices that have stood the test of time in research and in the classroom. Many English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) readers benefit greatly from this instruction, which generally takes a top-down view of reading, because students learn to take full advantage of their cognitive abilities to comprehend the text.

This book strongly supports the whole language ideology in general. The materials are exciting and interesting and the methods are inviting and creative. In the hands of an expert teacher, students learn useful reading and vocabulary acquisition strategies. They learn about the importance of cultural knowledge and the characteristics of textual discourse, such as coherence and cohesion. Students learn to enjoy and appreciate reading and writing.

However, in recent years whole language has been characterized as incomplete, in that it seems to de-emphasize certain aspects of reading. A complete, balanced reading ideology (a “truly whole” language ideology) should be big enough to embrace all reading theories and practices. In par; ticular, it should be able to accommodate those researchers and teachers who find that attention to the details of language can also help students learn to read better. This book takes the position that supplementing whole language with a bottom-up focus can strengthen our approach, making it truly holistic.

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