Comprehension of a reading text is made difficult due to the interactive nature of the reading process. Different readers respond in different ways to the same text. The reading lesson therefore needs to make allowances for both the variety of texts and the variety of readers. ( Nuttal,1996). As reading is a complex task, teacher need to be focused on the learning goals of the reading lesson and steer the learners towards achieving these goals. Even if the reading programme has a prescribed textbook, it is highly recommended that teachers use additional reading as supplementary materials.. Since the focus of the ESL reading class should be on a specific aspect of reading, the selection of an appropriate reading text is critical. If the text chosen is inappropriate for whatever reason, the chances of success for that particular lesson are substantially lessened.
Criteria for Selecting Reading Texts
The most important factor in selecting a reading material is interest. William (1986:42) claims that “ in the absence of interesting texts, very little is possible.” Carrell (1984:339) states; “ First, reading teachers should use materials the students are interested in, including materials self-selected by the student.” Eskey (1986:4) reminds teachers that “ the first concern of any reading teacher is to find or create, a body of material that his particular students might find interesting to read, and then do everything in his power to make it as comprehensible to them as he can.”
One way that teachers can stimulate students’ interest is to use materials which do not have over-familiar content. A passage which contains relatively little new information or one over-loaded with new information would increase the complexity level of the text and affect students’ interest to read further.. It is important that teachers select texts that can provide learners with a reasonable amount of new information. Nuttal (1982:30) provides guidelines that can help teachers decide the suitability of the texts. She recommends that the teacher attempts to discover if the passage will:- i.
tell the students things they don’t already know,
introduce them to new and relevant ideas, make them think about things they haven’t thought about before. iii.
help them to understand the way other people feel or think (eg., people with different backgrounds, problems or attitudes from their own), iv.
hake them want to read for themselves (to continue a story, find out more about a subject, etc.) There are a number of ways of determining learners’ interest. One of the ways is using a questionnaire to determine the types of books learners read. Nuttal (1982) suggests paying attention to the material students read in the first language as their choice of materials indicates their areas of interest. Another method recommended by Williams (1986) to determine learners interest is to ask these learners to evaluate current reading materials as “interesting” “all right” or “boring”. Lastly, students can also be encouraged bring their own texts to class based on their interest which is related to the reading lesson objectives. In doing so teachers can discover the learners’ reading interest. If material used in classroom are interesting, the students will be motivated to read not only for classroom purposes but also outside the classroom. 2.
Another important ingredient in text selection is to ensure that the text creates a purpose for reading. According to Eskey (1986: 6) “reading comprehension is most likely to occur when students are reading what they want to read or at least what they see some good reason to read.”
Hedge (2003:207) provides a framework based on the purposes as given by Rivers and Temperley (1978). Providing students with a purpose for reading will ensure that students are engaged in their reading activities. According to Hedge if teachers can use the guide for selection of texts, learners will be...
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