Tài liệu A study on reading strategies applied by the third year english major students at tay bac university

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING TAY BAC UNIVERSITY BUI THI NHIN GRADUATION PAPER A STUDY ON READING STRATEGIES APPLIED BY THE THIRD YEAR ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS AT TAY BAC UNIVERSITY Field: English Methodology Son La, 2013 MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING TAY BAC UNIVERSITY BUI THI NHIN GRADUATION PAPER A STUDY ON READING STRATEGIES APPLIED BY THE THIRD YEAR ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS AT TAY BAC UNIVERSITY Field: English Methodology Supervisor: Mrs. Do Thi Thanh Tra, MA Son La, 2013 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT First, I would like to acknowledge my sincere gratitude to my supervisor, Mrs. Do Thi Thanh Tra who has given me the support, guidance and invaluable critical feedback during the process of carrying out the graduation paper. I also want to thank the useful suggestions and detailed comments of the teachers in Foreign Language Department and fellow classmates in 50th English course. In addition, I am grateful to teachers and students in 51th English course at Tay Bac University who help me collect data for completing this research. Finally, I am indebted to my family for their love, care and tolerance encouraging me to do this study. Son La, 10th April 2013 BUI THI NHIN i ABSTRACT English has undoubtedly become an international means of communication. As its essential roles in communication, the language teaching and learning has been changing rapidly to meet new demands. However, the English language teaching and learning in Viet Nam in general, the teaching, and learning in Son la in particular still leave much room to be expected. Especially, the learning of reading skill and using reading strategies is still far from being satisfactory. It is clear that if the students use learning strategies, their learning will be more successful and obstacles while learning will not hinder their understanding any longer. The purpose of this research is to investigate the attitudes of teachers and the third year English major students at Tay Bac University toward reading strategies, afterwards, specific reading strategies applied by the students are thoroughly examined, and some feasible recommendations are given to these students to support them learn reading more effectively. In order to achieve these objectives, three instruments, namely document analysis, questionnaire and interview were used for teachers and students at Tay Bac University. The result shows that the teachers always pay attention on applying reading strategies during reading lessons. On the other hand, the students do not usually apply reading strategies as a motivation in learning reading. The rarely used activities are: placing new words into context, using images, previewing and predicting (memory strategies), using background knowledge, guessing meaning from context, taking note (cognitive strategies), guessing intelligently and using other linguistic clues (compensation strategies) identifying the purpose of reading texts (meta cognitive strategies ), giving themselves valuable reward for a particular good performance in learning (affective strategies ), asking for classification or verification, cooperating with peers, developing cultural understanding, becoming aware of others thought and feeling (social strategies ). ii TABLES OF CONTENT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ................................................................................ i ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................... ii TABLES OF CONTENT ............................................................................... iii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION .................................................................... 1 1.1. Rationale ..................................................................................................... 1 1.2. Purposes of study ........................................................................................ 1 1.3. Research questions ...................................................................................... 2 1.4. Scope of the study ....................................................................................... 2 1.5. Methodology ............................................................................................... 2 1.6. Design of the study ...................................................................................... 2 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ....................................................... 4 2.1. Language learning strategies ....................................................................... 4 2.1.1. Definition ................................................................................................. 4 2.1.2. Classification of language learning strategies ........................................... 5 2.2. Reading strategies ..................................................................................... 10 2.2.1. Definition of reading comprehension ...................................................... 10 2.2.2. Classification of reading ......................................................................... 11 2.2.3. Definition of reading strategies ............................................................... 12 2.2.2. Classification of reading strategies ......................................................... 13 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY................................................................. 17 3.1 Description of the subjects.......................................................................... 17 3.2. Data collection instruments ....................................................................... 17 3.2.1. Document analysis.................................................................................. 17 3.2.2. Questionnaires ........................................................................................ 17 3.2.3. Interviews ............................................................................................... 18 3.3. Results and discussions ............................................................................. 18 3.3.1. Results collected from document analysis .............................................. 18 3.3.2. Results collected from questionnaires ..................................................... 20 iii 3.3.2.1. Students’ attitude towards reading strategies ....................................... 20 3.3.2.2. Students’ use of reading strategies ....................................................... 21 3.3.3. Results collected from interview............................................................. 26 CHAPTER 4: MAJOR FINDINGS AND SUGGESTIONS ........................ 29 4.1. Major findings ........................................................................................... 29 4.2. Suggestions ............................................................................................... 30 4.2.1. Arouse students' awareness of the importance of reading strategies ........ 30 4.2.2. Suggestions of using reading strategies................................................... 31 4.2.2.1. Suggestion of using memory strategies ................................................ 31 4.2.2.2. Suggestion of using cognitive strategies .............................................. 33 4.2.2.3. Suggestion of using compensation strategies ....................................... 36 4.2.2.4. Suggestion of using metacognitive strategies ....................................... 39 4.2.2.5. Suggestion of using affective strategies ............................................... 41 4.2.2.6. Suggestion of using social strategies .................................................... 42 CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION ...................................................................... 44 REFERENCES APPENDIX iv LISTS OF CHARTS AND TABLES Table 1: Students’ attitude toward reading strategies…………………………..20 Chart 1: Students’ use of memory strategies…………………………...………21 Chart 2: Students’ use of cognitive strategies…………………………...……..22 Chart 3: Students’ use of compensation strategies……………………….…….23 Chart 4: Students’ use of metacognitive strategies……………….…………….24 Chart 5: Students’ use of affective strategies……………………………..……25 Chart 6: Students’ use of social strategies...........................................................26 v CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1.1. Rationale It is undeniable that English is an international language, which plays an important role in social life. It links people over the world in many fields: science, technology, business, communication, education, etc. It also helps people to approach the endless knowledge of the human being. Therefore, teaching and learning English have become the necessity in every country. Reading is considered one of the most important skills which language learners should master, particularly as it helps to build a variety of language expression and structures, widen general knowledge and lead to lifelong learning and improvement in the first and second language skills. But acquiring and mastering this skill is likely to become a big hindrance to many learners while they often find it difficult to exploit this skill in their learning experience. In Viet Nam, English is one of the foreign languages, which is compulsory from primary to university. In upper secondary school, listening, speaking, reading and writing are four main skills that students have to learn when they learn English. Reading seems to be the most challenging skill for many students. They find difficult in reading texts, reading tasks and reading exercises. There are several reasons for this problem, and lack of using strategies during reading process seems to be the biggest reason. Therefore, it is necessary, meaningful, and practical to do the research “A study on reading strategies applied by the third year English major students at Tay Bac University” 1.2. Purposes of study For the above-mentioned reasons, the main purposes of the thesis are as the following: + To investigate the students’ and teachers’ attitudes toward reading strategies. + To find out what reading comprehension strategies have been employed by the third year English major students at Tay Bac University. + To give some suggestions in order to support the third year English major students at Tay Bac University read more effectively. 1 1.3. Research questions The study aimed at answering the questions as follows: + How do the teachers and the third year English major students at Tay Bac University percieve the importance of reading strategies in learning to read in English? + Which specific reading strategies are applied by the third year students majoring in English at Tay Bac University to facilitate their reading comprehension? How often do they utilize each kind of strategies? + what recommendations should be made to help these students to read more effectively? 1.4. Scope of the study Due to the lack of time, condition, and material, this study only focus on investigating reading strategies employed by the third year students majoring in English at Tay Bac University 1.5. Methodology The methodologies were used in this study: + Analysis + Questionnaires + Interview 1.6. Design of the study The study is composed of five chapters: Chapter 1, Introduction, provides the background to the study, aims of the study, research questions, and methodology. Chapter 2, Literature review, involves different issues in the theories of language learning strategies in a foreign language as well as reading strategies. Chapter 3, Data collection and analysis, consists of two parts: the first part focuses on the description of the subjects. The second part is an analysis on the data collected from the survey questionnaires for students and interview questions for teachers. 2 Chapter 4, Major findings and solution, consists of two parts: The first part focuses on the major findings inferred from the data analysis in Chapter 3. From these findings, some strategies and activities are recommended. Chapter 5, Conclusion, is the conclusion and the weakness of the study as well as some suggestions for further study. 3 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter involves different issues in the theories of language learning strategies in a foreign language as well as reading strategies. 2.1. Language learning strategies 2.1.1. Definition This section presents several definitions of language learning strategies by leading figures in the second and foreign language field: MacIntyre (1994), O'Malley and Chamot (1990) and Oxford (1990). Language learning strategies are “the actions chosen by language students that are intended to facilitate language acquisition and communication” (MacIntyre, 1994, p.190). MacIntyre emphasized learners’ deliberate action of language learning strategies. This definition highlights the awareness and intention of learners’ use of language learning strategies (to facilitate language acquisition and communication). Language learning strategies are "the special thoughts or behaviors that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn, or retain new information" (O’Malley and Chamot, 1990, p.1). language learning strategies In O’Malley and Chamot’s definition, can be either observable (behaviors) or unobservable (thoughts). Additionally, the explicit goals of learning strategies are to assist students to gain comprehension and learn new information (Lan, 2005, p.17). Language learning strategies are “operations employed by the learner to aid the acquisition, storage, retrieval, and use of information...; specific actions taken by the learners to make learning easier, faster, more enjoyable, more selfdirected, more effective, and more transferable to new situations” (Oxford, 1990, p. 8). These definitions share one commonality: language learning strategies are “what students do to assist their learning” (Bremner, 1999, p. 8). However, they 4 have been defined in many different ways. In fact, the terms used to describe strategies and to account for their goals vary. As clearly shown in Oxford's (1990) definition, several explicit goals are evident. “These are related to aspects of learning and use of information, as well as to the changed nature of learning when learning is enhanced by strategies ("easier, faster, ... more self-directed...")” (Lan, 2005, p.17). In addition, Oxford believes that appropriate language learning strategies could help learners gain self-confidence and improve proficiency. In this paper, Oxford’s points of view is mostly considered because they care about specific actions taken by the learners to make learning enjoyable, easier, more self-directed and they are suitable for kind of students under this study. The next sub-section describes and comments on some of the most common classifications of language learning strategies by Oxford (1990), with the aim to select the most relevant classification schemes for coding reading comprehension strategies in the present study. 2.1.2. Classification of language learning strategies According to Oxford’s way of classification, there are direct strategies and indirect strategies. The former consists of mental processing of the language that includes memory, cognitive and compensation strategies. The later are meta cognitive, affective, social strategies that support and manage language learning without directly involving the target language. * Direct strategies As it is stated by Oxford (1990, 80), “language learning strategies that directly involve the target language are called direct strategies”. All direct strategies require mental processing of the language and use for different purposes. Direct strategies are classified into : + Memory strategies + Cognitive strategies + Compensation strategies 5 ● Memory strategies Memory strategies help students memorize, store, and retrieve new information. Memory strategies require very simple principles such as arranging things in order, making association and reviewing. Although memory strategies can be powerful contributor to language learning, stressed by Oxford, some researchers have shown that students are rarely reported using these strategies. Memory strategies include the following techniques: a. Grouping b. Associating/elaborating c. Placing new words into a context d. Using imagery e. Using keywords f. Representing sounds in memory g. Structured reviewing h. Using physical response or sensation ● Cognitive strategies The common feature unifying cognitive strategy is manipulation and transformation of the target language by learners. In Oxford’s view point, cognitive strategies are essential in language learning, and thus they are considered the most popular strategy used by language learners. Cognitive strategies consist of the following techniques: a. Recognizing and using formulars and patterns b. Repeating language material c. Practicing with sounds and writing systems d. Practicing naturalistic e. Getting the ideas quickly f. Using resources for receiving and sending messages. g. Reasoning deductively h. Analyzing expressions i. Analyzing contrastively 6 j. Translating k. Transferring l. Taking notes m. Summarizing n. Highlighting major points by using emphasis techniques ● Compensation strategies Compensation strategies allow learners to use the new language for either comprehension or production despite their gaps in knowledge. Oxford observed that learners skilled in compensation strategies communicative better than those who know many more target language words and structures but are not skilled in these strategies. Compensation strategies include the following techniques: a. Using linguistic clues b. Using other clues c. Getting help d. Using mime or gesture e. Selecting the topic f. Adjusting the massage g. Coining words h. Using a circumlocution or synonym * Indirect strategies According to Oxford (1990), all strategies that support and manage language learning without directly involving the target language are called indirect strategies. They are strategies that underpin the business of learning language, allow learners to control their own cognition, help learners learn through interaction with others as well as regulate their emotions, motivations and their attitudes. Indirect strategies are divided into three groups: + Metacognitive strategies + Affective strategies + Social strategies 7 ● Meta-cognitive strategies Metacognitive strategies are “actions which go beyond purely cognitive device, and which provide for learners to coordinate their own learning process” (Oxford 1990:136). He further indicated that those metacognitive strategies are extremely important; learners use these strategies sporadically and without much sense of their importance. In several studies of second and foreign language learning, reported by Oxford, “students used metacognitive less often than cognitive strategies and were limited in their range of metacognitive strategies, with planning strategies most frequently employed and with little self-evaluation or self-monitoring” Metacognitive strategies consist of the following techniques: a. Over viewing and linking, with already known material b. Paying attention c. Finding out about language learning d. Organizing learning e. Setting goals and objectives f. Identifying the purposes of a language task g. Planning for a language task h. Seeking practice opportunities i. Self-monitoring j. Self-evaluating ● Affective strategies Affective strategies are strategies through with language learners can gain control over their emotions, attitudes, motivations, and values. These strategies are useful for language learners, especially for those who have ordinary hangups and difficulties. However, Oxford (1990, 20) stressed, “These strategies are woefully underused-reported by 1 in every 20 language learners”. This situation is distressing, given the power of affective strategies. Affective strategies have the following techniques: a. Using progressive, deep breathing, or meditation 8 b. Using music c. Using laughters d. Making positive statements e. Taking risks wisely f. Rewarding oneself g. Listening to the body h. Using a checklist to assess feelings about language learning i. Writing a language learning diary j. Discussing feelings with someone else ● Social strategies Social strategies are used to create and maintain language communication between and among people. Language is a form of social behavior. Learning a language, thus “involve other people, and appropriate social strategies are very important in this process” (Oxford, 144)(Oxford Oxford (1990) noted that there is a large overlap among six groups in her strategy classification system. For instance, metacognitive strategies help students regulate their own cognition by assessing how they are learning and planning often requires reasoning, which is itself a cognitive strategies. Similarly, the compensation strategies of guessing, which is clearly used to make up for knowledge gaps, also require reasoning as well as involve sociocultural sensitivity typically gained through social strategies. Social strategies consist of the following techniques: a. Asking for clarification or verification b. Asking for correction c. Cooperating with peers d. Cooperating with proficient users of the new language e. Developing cultural understanding f. Becoming aware of others’ thought and feeling Apparently, there is a strong mutual support among all the types of strategies among direct and indirect ones. Oxford (1990) even compared the 9 former and the later to the Director of a play. The Director acts as an internal guide who administers the Performers, who cooperate and realize the play. In other words, both direct and indirect strategies interact closely and actively for the best possible outcome. Using language learning strategies help learners develop their competence in all reading, speaking, writing and listening skill. 2.2. Reading strategies 2.2.1. Definition of reading comprehension Reading has been the subject of research for over a century (Cheng, 1985). In fact, a lot of trials have been made by those who are interested in this approach. However, working out a thorough definition of reading is a hard nut to crask since different researchers have various points of view about it. Anderson (1999, p.7) confirmed that “reading is an active, fluent process which involves the readers and the reading materials in building meaning”. What can be inferred from this definition is that reading is considered as a process of working out the intended meaning from a reading text. Harmer’s definition (1998, p.70-71) has some points in common “reading is an exercise dominated by the eyes and the brain. The eyes receive messages and the brain then has to work out the significance of these messages”. Obviously, this definition fails to the ways that help readers understand messages in the text. The definition is given by William (1990, p.2), which says that “reading is a process whereby one looks at and understands what has been written” also encounters this shortcoming. The definition that seems to be more satisfying than those mentioned above is the one introduced by Rumelhart (1977). In Rumelhart’s words, reading entails three elements: the reader, the text, and the interaction between the reader and the text. Sharing the same point of view Aebersold and Field (1977, p15) stated that reading is what happens when people look at a text and assign meaning to the written symbols in that text. The text and the reader are the two physical entities necessary for reading process to start. It is, however, the interaction between the text and the reader that costitute actual meaning. 10 What makes the definitions of reading by Rumelhart (1977) and Aebersold and Field (1977) different is the interaction between the purpose and the manner of reading that determines how people read a text or what reading strategies they bring to reading process. To sum up, it is obvious that attempts to define reading have been various but only Aebersold and Field’s (1977) definition reveals the features and ideas of reading as it indicated that reading takes three elements for the occurrence of process of transferring meaning from writer to reader. The reader, the text and the interaction between these two factors. So far, general views on reading have been mentioned, the next section will look into the models that describe the reading process in order to have a full understanding about the nature of reading. 2.2.2. Classification of reading Depending on the purpose of reading, each person has different methods of reading. In other words, the purpose of reading will determine the manner in which the reader access to reading materials. This study will classify reading according to the criteria of the manner of reading and the purpose of reading. - Classification according to the manner Doff (1988), there are two ways of reading: reading aloud and silent reading. "Reading aloud is the process that the readers look at the text to understand the text and read aloud" (Doff: 70). Doff said that reading aloud is one way transmission of necessary information, Nuttall (1996) considered read aloud a useful tool to practice pronunciation. Reading aloud aims at practicing the ability to communicate with others, the ability to express thoughts and feelings. So, reading aloud as a procedure to form the reader the technical skill of reading as: pronunciation, intonation, fluency, etc. On the other hand, reading aloud allows the reader to comprehend the letters of the language, so it helps the reader to remember the text more easily. 11 Silent reading is as the link between the visual stimulus and the meaning or process of seeing and understanding. Silent reading helps the reader to understand and master content of the text. Therefore, silent reading is used popular in learning reading skill. - Classification according to the purpose of reading According to Wood (1985), Williams (1986) and Grellet (1990) there are four ways to read: skimming, scanning, extensive reading and intensive reading, Grellet (1990) stated that skimming and scanning are necessary techniques to require speed. Skimming is reading through the entire text and finding the main idea, the structure of the text, and purpose of the author. But when looking for specific information, readers often use scanning. Extensive reading and intensive reading have some differences. The two main points of extensive reading are smooth and relaxed while the purpose of intensive reading is to understand the specific details of the content of the reading and to transmit the reading content (Nuttall, 1989, p.23). 2.2.3. Definition of reading strategies Reading strategies, as defined by Brantmeier (2002, p.1) are “the comprehension processes that readers use in order to make sense of what they read and reading strategies are summarized as follows : “The strategies may involve skimming, scanning, guessing, recognizing cognates and word families, reading for meaning, predicting, activating knowledge, making inference, following references, and separating main ideas from supporting ideas”. According to Anderson (1999, p.12), there are six reading strategies: 1.activate prior knowledge, 2.cultivate vocabulary, 3.teach for comprehension, 4.increase reading rate, 5.verify reading strategies, 6.evaluate progress. Brown (1990, p.3) considered reading strategies as the ways that help learners read more quickly and more effectively. In short, reading strategies can be defined as the ways show readers how to manage their interaction with the written text to comprehend and learn new 12 information from the reading texts effectively. 2.2.2. Classification of reading strategies According to Oxford’ way of classification, in this study, reading strategies are divided depending on learning strategies. These are direct strategies, which include memory strategies, cognitive strategies, compensation strategies and indirect strategies which consist of metacognitive strategies, affective strategies and social strategies. A. Direct strategies I. Memory strategies 1. Placing new word into context: readers should place new words and expressions into a meaningful context or a real situation, such as a spoken or written sentence, to remember information better and longer. 2. Using imagery: readers create meaningful visual imagery of the spoken input either in the mind or in real drawing to comprehend and store information. 3. Previewing and predicting: readers focus on previewing key elements (titles, headings, etc.) to determine what they already know about a reading text. Then predict what they will learn. 4. Employing action: readers use body movement, total physical response, physical response or sensation to remember information better. For example: use your finger to help your eyes follow lines of text, underline or highlight words you don’t understand, and circle or highlight key words in a bright color. 5. Grouping words: readers list all words in the assignment that may be important for them to understand. Arrange words to show the relationships to the learning task. Add words they probably already understand to connect relationships between what is known and the unknown. II. Cognitive strategies 6. Using background knowledge to infer information: readers are encouraged to use what they already know before reading new material, or how much background knowledge they have in order to do the tasks more quickly and easier. 13
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