BỘ GIÁO DỤC VÀ ĐÀO TẠO
TRƯỜNG PT VÙNG CAO VIỆT BẮC
CHUYÊN ĐỀ TRẠI HÈ HÙNG VƯƠNG
IMPROVING READING COMPREHENSION SKILLS
AMONG HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Người thực hiện
: Nguyễn Thị Yến
: Tiếng Anh
: Xã hội
............, tháng 06năm 2015
Foreign language learning plays an important role in the global community since it is an
essential tool for communication, further study, seeking for knowledge, career, good understanding
for culture and worldwide vision. Reading skill is an important factor in development of the quality
of human life. Foreign language study broadens students’ vision and enables them to communicate
with foreigners appropriately and confidently. Learners who have good reading ability will progress
in their careers and their further studies. For those who study English as a second language, ability
in English reading comprehension is a must. Learners need reading comprehension to be able to
continually increase their knowledge.
Reading culture has to be promoted in a country in order to increase the human source. This
would make the country more qualified in every field. Vietnam is one of development country
which needs also reading culture for the society to increase the quality of the human source. This
effort has been designed by the government for every level of education in Vietnam. Every
Vietnamese student has to face reading lesson in English class. Reading is also one of the
competences of English that is considered as their final examination.
However, the problems sometimes arise when people are getting difficulty in understanding
the main idea of writing text. They read the whole chapters of a book but they cannot reveal what
contain of that book. Many people have trouble with reading. Reading is hard for some people and
it can take time. Reading is a process of the brain where you look at symbols on a page, and your
mind sees the patterns of characters and understands the meaning in them. If you develop good
reading skills, it'll be very helpful to your future. Reference also found that many Vietnamese
students did not succeed in their studies because of their deficient reading skills. Also from this
study, it was found that students’ other English language abilities were unsatisfactory and reading
was the skill that most urgently required development. Reading comprehension is the most
important skill in language learning. It is therefore essential for a leaner who studies English as a
foreign language to acquire reading ability.
Regarding with the above problems, the teacher should use a strategy to solve this problem.
The strategy to teach appropriately will help either the learners or instructor make the learning
II. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study had two objectives. They were the following:
- To provide students with the most effective strategies for English reading comprehension
- To study a range of different reading skills that help students improve their reading skills.
1. Effective strategies for reading comprehension.
Theoretically speaking, if the daily reading curriculum uses research-proven methods,
students should develop skills for comprehending the text. But you may be wondering which
strategies are the most beneficial. That question was answered in 1997 by a 14-member panel
appointed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The results
of their research, published under the title Teaching Children to Read (see resources below),
revealed that the eight most effective strategies are as follows:
- Comprehension monitoring
- Cooperative learning
- Graphic organizers
- Story structure
- Question answering
- Question generating
- Multiple Strategy
1.1 Comprehension monitoring
Reading activities can be divided into three categories, depending on when they take place: prereading, reading, and post-reading.
Collecting and defining vocabulary terms from the text will assist students in understanding
words that otherwise may interrupt their reading. It will also help them increase their vocabulary in
a meaningful, relevant way. Students can record the terms in a notebook or on flash cards. Another
strategy involves having students preview comprehension questions so that they can focus on
answering those questions as they read.
So, what are some ways of improving reading comprehension by creating that intent and
priming the brain? Here are some examples of pre-reading activities and questions that we can offer
students young and old to frame their reading for improved comprehension.
- Before reading, take a look around.
A book is much more than the words on its pages. What is the title? What do we see on the
cover? Who is the author and what kinds of stories and books does this person create? When was
the book written? By taking a few minutes to focus on these elements, we can set up expectations in
our minds - like a loose outline - that we will later fill in with the details.
- Get a 30,000 foot view.
Delving in a bit deeper, what can we learn about the story by reading the table of contents
and flipping quickly through the pages? Tables of contents offer huge amounts of information to
help readers further develop expectations and outlines.
- Make it personal.
Our brains are more likely to absorb information when it is directly applicable or related to
our interests and our lives. Thinking about the information we have just accessed by answering the
above questions, what aspects of this book grab our interest on a personal level? What features of
the book relate directly to our lives?
- Write it down.
Now that we have a framework of expectations around what we are about to read, write
down questions that have arisen about the story and its characters, and make some predictions about
how the story might unfold.
All of these pre-reading activities help the reader to create a mental framework that will later hold
the details of the text. Readers can then use these notes during and after reading to see where
predictions were on target or where they might have gone off course.
b. While – reading.
Students can interact with the text by asking questions about literary elements, presenting
oral summaries of the plot, or collecting details or write observations on post-it notes. If students
have previewed comprehension questions, they can answer these questions as they read.
c. Post - reading
Comprehension questions are just one form of activity appropriate for post reading．
The teacher should also consider vocabulary study and ask students to identify the author’s purpose,
discuss the author’s line of reasoning, examine grammatical structures and steer the students toward
a follow up writing exercise. The last stage of the reading lesson is intended to review the content
work on bottom-up concerns such as grammar, vocabulary and discourse features. At this point it
would be appropriate to put the students in pairs or small groups to compare and verify their
responses to the questions or graphics and then check the results with the entire class．
Once the main ideas of the text have been reviewed, work on discrete elements of the
passage can be undertaken. Exercises could focus on grammar points, vocabulary in context or
word roots, or discourse markers. Of course we do not need to do all of these exercises with each
reading for there is a real danger of murdering the text by dissection. Judicious choices should
therefore be made depending on the character of the text and the needs of the students． The final
segment of the post-reading stage should be devoted to integrating the new inform action from the
text with what the students already know. In the context of College English course, the usual means
of doing this is through a writing assignment, but other techniques should also be used frequently
including discussions, debates, and role plays. The choice in this case depends on the inclinations of
the class and to some degree the need for variety．
The teaching reading can be divided into three stages namely the pre-reading stage, the
while-reading stage and the post-reading stage. In each stage a certain amount of activities can be
applied. Teaching reading in such a way can provide students with the skills and strategies needed
to become an efficient, effective and independent reader and in the mean while the teaching can
also meet the requirement from the students.
1.2. Cooperative learning
Cooperative learning is a strategy that maximizes student engagement, reduces class
tensions, and promotes student learning. Typically, students work in groups of four. If you plan to
use cooperative learning frequently in classes, consider arranging your classroom to facilitate
learning in small groups.
The following are examples of how students can work cooperatively to learn more about a
narrative work of literature:
- Each group uses a plot diagram to locate and summarize a stage of plot development.
- Groups conference briefly with the teacher to ensure their answers are correct.
- Students reassemble into new groups comprising one "expert" from each of the previous groups.
- These new groups pool their expertise to fill out every stage of the plot diagram.
- The session concludes with a class discussion of the novel, short story, play, or narrative poem.
1.3. Graphic organizers.
Graphic organizers, which provide a visual map for the reader, can be placed next to the text
as learners read in groups or individually, aloud or silently. They are particularly useful in helping
readers to understand the structure of a narrative or of an argument. Following are descriptions of
three types of organizers:
- Comparison/Contrast: These organizers can help students consider the similarities and differences
between stories, plots, themes, and characters. An example of such an organizer is a Venn diagram,
which consists of interlocking circles or ellipses. The area common to both circles shows
similarities between two items, while the areas unique to each circle show differences between the
- Hierarchy Diagram: This graphic organizer can assist students who are reading informational
texts of all kinds, whether related to language arts or to other content areas. The hierarchy
diagram offers the opportunity to apply literary terms to the reading, make connections between the
parts of a concept, or analyze the author's craft. For example, consider placing characterization at
the top of the graphic organizer as the overarching concept. The next level of this graphic organizer
can then be assigned to characters, and the last level can deal with methods of characterization,
including the use of dialogue, author description, and action.
- Matrix Diagram: This organizer is effective in representing comparisons and contrasts. For
example, students can use the matrix diagram to compare and contrast the styles of various authors
by entering key elements of style at the top and then filling in the lower cells with the similar or
different approaches of the authors they are considering.
Graphic organizers illustrate concepts and relationships between concepts in a text or using
diagrams. Graphic organizers are known by different names, such as maps, webs, graphs, charts,
frames, or clusters. Regardless of the label, graphic organizers can help readers focus on concepts
and how they are related to other concepts. Graphic organizers help students read and understand
textbooks and picture books.
Here are some examples of graphic organizers:
- Venn-Diagrams: Used to compare or contrast information from two sources. (Appendix A)
- Storyboard/Chain of Events: Used to order or sequence events within a text. (Appendix B)
- Story Map: Used to chart the story structure. These can be organized into fiction and nonfiction
text structures. For example, defining characters, setting, events, problem, and resolution in a fiction
story; however in a nonfiction story, main idea and details would be identified. (Appendix C)
- Cause/Effect: Used to illustrate the cause and effects told within a text. (Appendix D)
Graphic organizers help students see how ideas are organized within a text or concept.
Learners can then apply this structure to their own ideas. Learners are thus better able to understand
relationships between complex ideas or to arrange information to facilitate retention and recall.
Graphic organizers can:
- Help students focus on text structure "differences between fiction and nonfiction" as they read
- Provide students with tools they can use to examine and show relationships in a text
- Help students write well-organized summaries of a text.
1.4. Question answering
The typical approach to question answering is to answer comprehension questions upon
completion of the selection, but questions can be a part of a reading lesson at many points.
Questions can be effective because they:
- Give students a purpose for reading
- Focus students' attention on what they are to learn
- Help students to think actively as they read
- Encourage students to monitor their comprehension
- Help students to review content and relate what they have learned to what they already know
The Question-Answer Relationship strategy (QAR) encourages students to learn how to answer
questions better. Students are asked to indicate whether the information they used to answer
questions about the text was textually explicit information (information that was directly stated in
the text), textually implicit information (information that was implied in the text), or information
entirely from the student's own background knowledge.
There are four different types of questions:
- "Right There": Questions found right in the text that ask students to find the one right answer
located in one place as a word or a sentence in the passage.
Example: Who is Frog's friend? Answer: Toad
- "Think and Search": Questions based on the recall of facts that can be found directly in the text.
Answers are typically found in more than one place, thus requiring students to "think" and "search"
through the passage to find the answer.
Example: Why was Frog sad? Answer: His friend was leaving.
-"Author and You": Questions require students to use what they already know, with what they
have learned from reading the text. Student's must understand the text and relate it to their prior
knowledge before answering the question.
Example: How do think Frog felt when he found Toad? Answer: I think that Frog felt happy
because he had not seen Toad in a long time. I feel happy when I get to see my friend who lives far
- "On Your Own": Questions are answered based on a student’s prior knowledge and experiences.
Reading the text may not be helpful to them when answering this type of question.
Example: How would you feel if your best friend moved away? Answer: I would feel very sad if
my best friend moved away because I would miss her.
1.5. Question generating
Students can write questions about the story as a post-reading exercise. These questions can
then be integrated into formal tests or informal questioning games. You might want to suggest that
students generate questions by adapting sentences from the text. Students can also generate
questions to identify their own uncertainties about the text. They can then try to answer these
questions by consulting you or other students.
By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions
and if they understand what they are reading. Students learn to ask themselves questions that require
them to combine information from different segments of text. For example, students can be taught
to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text.
This is an effective strategy for readers who have difficulty remembering and writing about
what they have read. A summary can take many forms, including travelogues, journals, doubleentry journals, and letters. For example, students can create a travel itinerary that summarizes the
action of a narrative, can write a journal from a particular character's point of view, can set up a
double-entry journal about the theme of a work, or can summarize events in a letter that one
character writes to another.
Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and
to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:
- Identify or generate main ideas
- Connect the main or central ideas
- Eliminate unnecessary information
- Remember what they read
1.7. Multiple Strategy
This strategy addresses individual learning styles by having students use different media such as text, images, or video - to analyze or comment on a work of literature. For example, readers
can follow a procedure like this one:
- Begin analyzing a story by using a worksheet listing the elements to be identified.
- Use word processors and instructional software to create and fill in graphic organizers with clip art
and fields of text.
- Refer to worksheets for definitions to be added to electronic graphic organizers.
If students have access to video cameras and editing software, they can also create videos
that offer commentary on a literary work.
2. Improving your reading skills
Improving your reading skills will reduce unnecessary reading time and enable you to read
in a more focused and selective manner. You will also be able to increase your levels of
understanding and concentration. This section shows you how to read with greater efficiency and
effectiveness by using a range of different reading skills.
2.1. Reading for study
You already use a range of reading styles in everyday situations. The normal reading style
that you might use for reading a novel is to read in detail, focusing on every word in sequence from
start to finish. If it is a magazine you are reading, you might flick through the pages to see which
articles are of interest. When you look in a telephone directory for a particular name, you
purposefully ignore all other entries and focus your attention on spotting the name you want. These
everyday reading skills can be applied to your studies. To improve your reading skills you need to:
- have clear reading goals;
- choose the right texts;
- use the right reading style;
- use note taking techniques.
2.2. Reading goals
Clear reading goals can significantly increase your reading efficiency. Not everything in
print will be of use to you. Use reading goals to select and prioritize information according to the
task in hand. Reading goals can be:
- an essay or seminar subject;
- a report brief;
- a selected subject area;
- a series of questions about a specific topic.
Use your reading goals to help you identify the information that is relevant to your current
2.3. Choosing a text
You will need to assess the text to see if it contains information that is relevant to your
- Check the date of publication. Is the information up-to-date?
- Read the publisher's blurb at the back or inside sleeve for an overview of the content.
- Check the contents page for relevant chapters.
- Look up references for your topic in the index.
Once you have selected a text you can use the following techniques of scanning and
skimming to help you identify areas for detailed reading.
Scanning is the technique you might use when reading a telephone directory. You pass your
vision speedily over a section of text in order to find particular words or phrases that are relevant to
your current task. You can scan:
- the introduction or preface of a text;
- the first or last paragraphs of chapters;
-the concluding or summarizing chapter of a text;
- the book index.
Skimming is the process of speedy reading for general meaning. Let your eyes skip over
sentences or phrases which contain detail. Concentrate on identifying the central or main points.
Use this technique to:
- pre-view a selection of text prior to detailed reading;
- refresh your understanding of a selection of text following detailed reading.
2.4. Detailed reading and note taking
Once you have selected useful information, you can begin to read in detail. Note taking
techniques provide a useful aid to reading. Use:
- underlining and highlighting to pick out what seem to you the most central or important words
and phrases. Do this in your own copy of texts or on photocopies - never on borrowed texts;
- keywords to record the main headings as you read. Use one or two keywords for each main point.
Keywords can be used when you don't want to mark the text;
- questions to encourage you to take an active approach to your reading. Record your questions as
you read. They can also be used as prompts for follow up work;
- summaries to check you have understood what you have read. Pause after a section of text and
put what you have read in your own words. Skim over the text to check the accuracy of your
summary, filling in any significant gaps.
These techniques encourage an active engagement with the text as well as providing you
with a useful record of your reading. Avoid passively reading large amounts of text; it does not
make effective use of your time. Always use a note taking technique to increase your levels of
concentration and understanding.
2.5. Increasing your reading speed
It is more important to improve your reading skills than your reading speed. Being focused
and selective in your reading habits will reduce the time you spend reading. If, in addition to using a
range of reading skills you want to increase your reading speed, then the following technique will
be of use.
The average reading speed is about 240-300 words per minute. For the average reader, the
eye fixes on each word individually.
It is easy for your eye to recognize 4 or 5 words in a single fixation without a loss of
understanding. The key to increasing your reading speed is not to increase the speed at which your
eyes move across the page, but to increase the word span for a single fixation. A simple way of
developing the habit of taking in more than one word per fixation is to take a page of text and divide
it length ways into three with two lines drawn down the page. Using a pen or pencil as a pointer,
read each line of text by allowing your eye to fall only in the middle of each of the three sections, as
indicated by your pointer.
2.6. Developing your reading speed
- Don't worry about how quickly you are reading but instead, concentrate on reading the line in only
- As this becomes more natural, practice without drawing lines.
- Later, reduce the number of fixations to two per line.
- Once this increased word span becomes a comfortable habit, an increase in your reading speed
- Have a clear focus for your reading. Set your reading goals.
- Survey the text before you spend the time and effort involved in detailed reading.
- Scan and skim to select the text for detailed reading.
- Scan and skim after detailed reading to reinforce your understanding.
- Use a form of note taking whilst reading in detail, to keep you concentrating, aid understanding
and provide you with a record of your reading.
- Using clear reading goals and a variety of reading skills is more important than increasing your
- To improve your reading speed, don't increase the speed of the eye across the page, but increase
the number of words the eye recognizes in a single fixation.
In order to develop English reading comprehension abilities, effective strategies are
valuable. Comprehension monitoring, cooperative learning, graphic organizers and question
answering are particularly effective in enhancing English reading comprehension. In applying these
strategies in teaching, a teacher should fully understand the theory. Students should receive
orientation to the processes and activities before starting the program. Learner participation should
be a focus. Duration of each activity should be carefully considered and remain flexible. The
selection of the reading texts should be varied and appropriate for the level of the students. This
technique is a key tool for students to develop efficient reading skill. Students can engage in
thinking skill practice in order to encourage them to actively participate in the learning process.
These research findings provide practical information about developing English reading
comprehension abilities using effective strategies. They improve reading skill by enabling more
enjoyable and easier language learning.
The limitation of this study is its small sample size. This should be extended to other
contexts. It should be compared with other reading strategies to seek a set of best practices for
effectively improving students’ English language comprehension.
Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read. To be able to
accurately understand written material, children need to be able to decode what they read; make
connections between what they read and what they already know; and think deeply about what they
The Venn diagram Graphic Organizer
This organizer can be used for helping students understand how events, issues, concepts and
particularly categories can be overlapping.
Cause and Effect
Why did it happen?
Why did it happen?