Se l ecti ng Read i ng Materi a l s Wisely
Ivannia Jiménez Arias'
Universidad Nacional. Costa Rica
S e an alizan cri terios por tenerse en cuenta en l a selección de materiales para el desarrol lo de la comprensión de lectura en una segunda lengua. Se propone una alternati va para elegir textos . La exploración de estos aspectos resulta muy útil en los cursos de comprensión de lectura al tenerse al estudiante como punto de partida.
An analysis is carri ed out on criteria for selecting materials for the development of reading comprehension in a second language . A proposal for selecting readi n g texts is descri bed. This approac h i s very usefu l i n reading comprehension courses because it is student-centered. Palabras claves : aprendizaje de segundas lenguas, comprensión de lectura,
Keywords: second-l anguage learning, reading comprehension, teaching
Beeause seleeting reading material s is just one of teachcrs ' many daily duties, most teaehers do this task based on the ir o w n eriteria with no further eonsiderations . They hardly ever invol ve I he Correo electrónico: Ivanniaja@ costarricense.cr.
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this reading selection process, even though they are meant lo be the fin al recipients of the reading materials. As a consequence, I he rcading material s chosen by the instructors are often inappropriate. According to Richard R. Day, "One of the more complex tasks facing lhe English as a foreign language (EFL) reading teacher is the ,, selection of appropriate reading passages. 2 Selecting reading material s for any particular ESLlEFL class must be a thoughtful process rather than a random one. The students must be actively involved in this process if teachers want to adopt appropriate reading material s for the class. Due to the relevance of the process of selecting reading passages, researchers have devoted much time to analyzing the different aspects involved in the selection process. Field researchers, such as Melvin & Stout, Fox, and Gebhard, have identified certain factors that need to be considered when preparing material for ESL-EFL classes. 3 The teachers who decide to select reading materials wisely need to devote sorne of their valuable time to analyzing each one of these aspects. If teachers successfully select a variety of appropriate texts, the students will perceive reading as an interesting and valuable activity. On the contrary, "if the passage chosen is inappropriate for whatever reason, the chances of success for that particular lesson are ,, substantially lessened. 4 The most significant factors in the reading selection process are related to the students : the students' level, interests, needs, and background knowledge. Other factors are related to the text itself: content, relevance and authenticity. The approach presented here represents an attempt to provide teachers with a practical altemative for selecting reading materials Richard Day, "Selecting a Passage for the EFL Reading Class," Forum 32 ( 1 994): 20. Bemice Melvi n & David Stout, "Moti vating Language Learners through Authentic Materials," Ill1eraclive Language T eaching, ed. Wi lga Ri vers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1 987) 44-56; G. Fox, "Text Selection and the Role It Plays in Motivation," The Lallguage T eacher, 10 ( 1 989): 8 - 1 0 : Jerry Gebhard, "Relevancy, Authenticity, Comprehensibility and Selection of EFL Materials," P ASAA. 19 ( 1 989): 87-90. Day. 20 .
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Jiménez I Selecting Reading Materials Wisely
wisely and efficiently. The analysis of these aspects should not bear any further complication for the teacher, yet it offers great benefits. Students are actively involved in this process and they should be motivated to provide their own reading material s for the class. A sample application will be...
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