Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Efficiency of Using a Web-Based Approach to Teach Reading Strategies to Iranian EFL Learners

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Efficiency of Using a Web-Based Approach to Teach Reading Strategies to Iranian EFL Learners

Article excerpt

Abstract

Applying new technologies with their effective potentials have changed education and, consequently, the L2 teacher role. Coping with online materials imposes the necessity of employing Web-based approaches in L2 instruction. The ability to use reading strategies in a Web-based condition needs sufficient skill which will be fulfilled if it is integrated in pedagogy. The main focus of the present study was to investigate the efficiency of teaching reading strategies in a Web-based condition to Iranian EFL learners. Thirty L2 learners at upper-intermediate level from an English institute in Isfahan were selected as the experimental group. The group received a 20-hr reading strategy training in Web-based condition. Participants were taught 4 general reading strategies which were practiced through 3 stages of cognitive theory: cognitive, associative, and autonomous proposed by Anderson (1993). The instruments included a pre/posttest of hypertext reading comprehension, a pre/posttraining questionnaire for assessing the participants' familiarity with general reading strategies, a pre/posttest of reading comprehension, and an attitude questionnaire towards Web-based reading strategy instruction. Findings indicated that after reading strategy program, the participants' frequent usage of each reading strategy increased significantly and, consequently, they performed better at the reading tasks in Web-based and conventional conditions. Furthermore, the group had positive attitudes towards Web-based reading strategy instruction.

Keywords: reading strategy, hypertext reading strategy, hypertext, note-taking strategy, inferring strategy, context clues, skimming

1. Introduction

The widespread use of Web-based approaches in instruction makes learning and teaching via the Web something new and a controversial issue in education (Ferdig, 2005). As an educational tool, technology offers a number of applications in and outside the classroom. The application of computers in teaching reading "is an important and essentially unexplored field" (National Reading Panel, 2000, p. 23). Additionally, Web-based environments have been widely supported by research in L2 reading because they promote active learning. According to Schmare-Dobler (2003), L2 learners' strategies usage in reading printed texts highlight obvious similarity with those they apply while reading the hypertext. Research shows that L2 learners apply a number of strategies during hypertext reading through the Internet. These strategies consist of related nodes, skimming strategy, note taking by hand, summing the information up, and relying upon former knowledge.

Although reading hypertext seems to be a requirement in fulfilling academic success for L2 learners, little attention had been drawn to its importance. Cunningham (1999) explained some reasons for supporting the importance of integrating the Internet into pedagogy. First, the Internet makes a condition for individual learning as needed. Second, it is considered as a practical medium for improving learning skills. Finally, it provides a vast amount of information in every field.

In a Web-based condition, L2 students are more interested and motivated to learn English because it presents various tools to improve reading skills. Students can use online dictionaries; they can check the pronunciation of unfamiliar words; they can find a plethora of reading texts according to their levels, needs, and interests; they can check the results of the exercises after they are done and other variable like font size, color, and type that can influence their learning process. Research shows that learners generally have a positive opinion towards L2 reading strategy instruction via a Web-based condition.

However, in online traveling, L2 learners face many texts and media, but because of lacking useful reading strategies, they just skip the reading texts and divert their attention towards the entertainments; besides, difficulty of hypertext reading (i. …

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