Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Examing the Effect of a Learning-Centered Reading Instruction on Iranian Students' Reading Comprehension: An Action Research

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Examing the Effect of a Learning-Centered Reading Instruction on Iranian Students' Reading Comprehension: An Action Research

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study intended to explore the the effect of a learning-centered reading instruction on improving undergraduate students' reading comprehension ability in university context of Iran. Based on a pedagogical framework driven from Hutchinson and Waters' learning-centered approach, some useful techniques were applied to develop a specific English reading instruction. The participants, within the age range of 18-22, included 50 students who were an intact experimental group. Following a pretest, treatment (15 weeks, 2 sessions per week), and a posttest, the obtained data was analyzed using t-test to examine the effect of the independent variable, namely, method of instruction. The results of the analysis showed that the teaching intervention had a significant effect on students' reading comprehension. The findings are discussed in relation to effective reading comprehension instruction through the use of necessary techniques in English teaching contexts.

Keywords: learning-centered, reading instruction, reading comprehension

1. Introducation

1.1 Statement of the Problem

In many EFL contexts of Asian countries, English is a required subject of students in all levels of their educational life. The main goal of instructing English in these contexts is to help students succeed in their examinations and enter higher levels of education (Huang, 2006). Although reading comprehension is an essential part of these exams, students usually do not receive any instruction on reading skills necessary to read some complicated texts in their educational life. Then, they enter university and study specific English related to their own fields of study and except English majors, they do not have to take English courses after the first year of their studies (Huang, 2006). The problem starts when the students have to struggle with some technical lengthy texts during their university life. This may be, partly due to the fact that instructors do not provide their students with different skills and strategies required to succeed in their reading comprehension goals. During such classes, as Huang (2006) mentions, some more proficient students will acquire some necessary reading skills by themselves, while other less proficient ones will lose their confidence and interest in the course and as a result they will refer to the translation versions of their texts in order to pass the exams. What is noteworthy is that in many EFL/ESL contexts, including Iranian context, English is commonly taught through the unfashionable Grammar-Translation Method (GTM) in teacher-centered classrooms which leads to poor reading comprehension (Hayati, 2008; Erfani et al. 2011; Atai and Nazari, 2011). Contrary to Fiorito's definition, what exists in the literature indicates that in GTM students have to learn language grammar and vocabulary so that they can be able to translate the readings and do the exercises (Chastain, 1988). Among the shortcomings of GTM, its lack of concern with cognitive principles (Chastain, 1988) leads to the inability of students to develop some necessary skills and strategies required in reading comprehension. This might be the worst pitfall that decreases its efficiency for English classes, which, according to Fuertes-Olivera and Gomez-Martinez (2004) leads to some passive learners who do not participate in class activities. Therefore, in this context, an effective method of instruction makes use of a number of appropriate features of a variety of teaching methods to develop learners' reading comprehension ability seems to contribute positively to learning outcomes. It seems that these classes will not train the students with satisfactory reading abilities. Therefore, it could be said that a reading course which concentrates on three main factors of meeting specific needs of the learners, making use of the underlying methodologies of the discipline it serves, as well as focusing on the appropriate skills necessary for this purpose will help the learners to succeed in their goals. …

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