English has become the second most important language in Malaysia towards the globalization era. Ministry of Education of Malaysia has stressed the importance of English through the new curriculum, KSSR (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah). Primary school pupils are expected to speak good English by the end of Year 6. In order to speak good English, they should know how to read and write in English. Hesham (2005) defines reading as "an interactive process between a reader and a text which leads to automaticity or reading fluency". Primary school pupils should be inculcated with reading habits especially during lesson. This is because reading is one of the most important skills that pupils need to acquire. Young, Walsh & McDonald (2012) agree that reading and writing are important to enhance literacy skills. So, providing a variety of reading materials in school will help children start reading (Goddard, 1974). Reading materials should be interactive, authentic and cater for pupils' background knowledge.
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Reading activities among young learners has become an issue among public. Hesham (2005) indicates that "current research believes that lack of automaticity in 'lower-level processing' leads to poor-skilled reading" (p. 143). There are several reasons of poor-skilled reading. Bruce & Robinson (2000) state failing to identify words will cause children to dislike reading. Webb (2007) has agreed that comprehension can be improved if pupils have improved in learning of words. Limited vocabulary will hinder pupils understanding towards reading comprehension. This will cause them to "lack in understanding of the structure of a text" (Askie & Hodgson, 2011, p. 63). This is because they are "less aware of effective strategies in monitoring their reading" (Cubuku, 2008, p. 3). In order to attract pupils' attention to read, the reading materials provided should be meaningful and purposeful to them. Young et al (2012) state that "comprehension activities taken from sets of commercial reading texts or worksheet activities do not aid students in comprehension and thus hinder higher level of thinking" (p. 51). Higher level of thinking is important so that pupils are able to process and analyze the input they received.
Rationale Of The Study
Providing the suitable strategies in teaching reading comprehension is important for teachers. This is because there are varieties of teaching strategies either traditional strategies or conventional strategies. It will raise teachers' awareness on the suitable strategies to use. This is due to several factors like pupils' interest and needs and also their level of proficiency. If teachers are still holding on to the traditional strategies, pupils may not able to improve their comprehension. So, teachers can use different strategies and they are not obliged to use the same strategies in classroom. By using a variety of strategies, they are able to accommodate their pupils' needs during the lesson.
Objectives Of The Study
The two main objectives of this study are:
Ñ-. To identify the strategies frequently used by selected primary school teachers for reading comprehension among Year 4 pupils.
Ñ-Ñ-. To explore the teacher's views of strategies that does not seem to improve reading comprehension among pupils.
The study followed the following research questions:
Ñ-. What are the strategies most frequently used by primary school teachers to improve Year 4 pupils understanding of stories?
Ñ-Ñ-. Do the strategies used by teachers help pupils to improve their understanding of stories?
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
Reading has been introduced to pupils since they were in kindergarten. They can start reading by recognizing words and how does each word sound. Reading activities can be done during reading lesson in a classroom. By being able to read, it will help pupils in their writing and speaking skills. Lipka & Siegel (2001) describe reading comprehension as "a multi-dimensional process that includes the reader, the text and factors associated with the activity of reading" (p. 1873). This has stressed the importance of writing to primary school students. So, this section will cover reading in the second language, teachers' roles and learners' roles, types of reading and reading process.
2.1 Reading in the Second Language
Reading in English is a big challenge for Malaysian primary school pupils. This is due to differences in pronunciation, spelling and grammar structure compared to their mother tongue. However, reading should begin from when they were small. Young et al (2012) state reading is a life-long process for children. As Hesham (2005) suggested, "reading involve both top-down and bottom-up process" (p. 144). Pupils need to use both of these processes so that they are able to achieve their goals in reading. When they have achieved their goals, they are able to improve their reading comprehension.
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Wallace (1992) identifies three purposes of reading that are "reading for survival, learning and pleasure" (p. 6). To instill reading habit among young learners, teacher can provide reading of stories to them. This is because stories are more enjoyable to primary school pupils than other types of reading comprehension. However, pupils need to be able to analyze the information in the text in order to understand the content better. Webb (2007) asserts that "in order to read successfully there needs to be a transfer of meaning from one's mind to another through the medium of written English" (p. 8).
2.2 Teaching Reading
Reading lesson is a typical activity to be conducted in Malaysian primary school classrooms. Teaching of reading has to have focus or goals that lead pupils to achieve success in reading (Young et al, 2012). So, teachers play a vital role in reading lesson. Teacher's role is important during comprehension of stories. Teachers should help students realize the purpose of reading which is to gain meaning of the text (Webb, 2007). In order to gain meaning, opportunities to perform text analysis should be provided to pupils (Askie & Hodgson, 2011). Pupils are able to understand the input they read if they are able to gain meaning of the text.
Askie & Hodgson (2011) also believe that "activating background knowledge, predicting context, vocabulary gist, skimming and scanning are important to reading lesson" (p. 63). These factors help pupils to understand the stories better. Morgan (2011) states stories help pupils to improve in their target language by providing an insight into language use. However, teachers should be able to motivate pupils during their comprehension (Hesham, 2005). This is because motivation helps students to improve in comprehension of stories. Besides teachers, pupils also should be able to "interpret, integrate experiences, concepts and ideas, critique, draw inferences, analyze and make connections" (Lowe, Hannett & Martems, 2009, p. 12). In order to become competent readers, pupils need to have a high level of reading comprehension and recognizing words inevitably (Lerkkanen, Rasku-Puttonen, Aunola, & Nurmi, 2004).
2.2.1 Strategies of Teaching Reading
Young et al (2012) propose that "a balanced approach includes shared, modeled, guided and independent reading is recommended by research for organizing in reading in classroom" (p. 52). There are several strategies that teachers can use to improve pupils' comprehension. Hafiz & Tudor (1989, as cited in Hesham, 2005) state that "extensive reading aims to give learners with large quantities of L2 input with few tasks to perform on this material" (p. 14). This is because pupils spend their time reading outside classroom. So, they are not pressured with any tasks to be accomplished. Intensive reading is another strategy of comprehension of stories. Carrell & Carson (1997) report intensive reading will help to improve reading in second language. This is because pupils are "exposed to short texts which are used to demonstrate specific aspects of lexical or discourse system in English" (Hafiz & Tudor, 1989, as cited in Hesham, 2005).
Young et al (2012) assert that "guided reading as an important strategy" in reading (p. 50). This is because "the term 'guided' suggests a type of instruction that would be less about modeling and more about coaching" (Ford & Opitz, 2008, p. 310). Teachers need to scaffold pupils during guided reading. This is because "demonstration is the primary purpose of guided reading" (Ford & Opitz, 2008, p. 312). Demonstration helps pupils to understand the text better and able to improve their comprehension. Pupils with the same reading level are grouped together (Iaquinta, 2006) so that it will be easy for teachers to scaffold them. Iaquinta (2006) suggests that teachers should know how to trigger pupils thinking during reading. The other strategy is shared reading. Shared reading can be defined as interactions between a child and an adult sharing a book together (Zucker, Justice, Piasta, Kaderavek, 2010; Pollard-Durodola, Gonzales, Simmons, Taylor, Davis, Simmons, Nava-Walichowski, 2012). Shared reading activities include a variety of methods. For example, teacher can "make connections by extending target word use beyond the reading lesson" (Pollard-Durodolla et al, 2012, p. 9). This is because vocabulary is important while learning to read.
Reading aloud is one of the traditional ways to teach reading. Dello (2008) identifies that "reading aloud with students is a good way to role model positive behavior towards reading" (p. 34). This statement has been agreed by Cho & Choi (2008) that reading aloud can increase pupils' interest towards reading and language development in English. This is because "the format of reading aloud encourages students to share their own narratives, background knowledge about life and express family and personal stories for the purpose of increasing their literacy" (Nuegebauer, & Currie-Rubin, 2009, p. 398). However, teacher should know that reading aloud is a voluntary activity when they incorporate this activity during lesson (Dello, 2008).
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2.2.2 Teaching Reading Skills
Perfetti (1985, as cited in Netten, Droop, & Verhoeven, 2011) defines decoding as "the ability to transform printed letter strings into phonetic code" (p. 414). Decoding will help pupils to enhance reading comprehension skill. This is due to pupils who are able to know letters well will be able to read well (Lerkkanen et al, 2004). Decoding activities aid pupils in acquiring letter-sound corresponding knowledge (Oyetunde, 2002). When pupils are able to recognize letters and sound, they are able to pronounce the words in a text. Guessing is another skill that pupils should obtain during comprehension of stories. It has been agreed that "guessing word meanings is widely known as a useful skill either for teacher or learners" (Clarke & Nation, 1980, p. 211). When pupils have acquired this skill, it will be easy for them to understand the text. Clarke & Nation (1980) also agree that guessing is one of the important skills that pupils should have in reading.
Contextual is referred as "to infer meaning of unknown words" (Schwartz & Stanovich, 1981; Dunmore, 1989, p. 337). Pupils need to have this skill so that they are able to infer the meaning of unknown words. Contextual clues have helped students in defining the meaning of unknown words, however it has not helped in developing accuracy (Schwartz & Stanovich, 1981). So, teachers need to assist pupils in determine the meaning of the words when they first encounter the words (Konopak, 1988). Konopak(1988) also stresses that "teachers need to model the use of this strategies to help students to unlock unknown word meanings" (p. 337). Thus, when they are able to infer the meaning, it will enhance their vocabulary size, thus enhancing their reading comprehension.
2.3 Reading Process
There are three stages in teaching of reading. The stages are pre-reading, while-reading, and post-reading. Pre-reading and while-reading activities aim to provide pupils with activation of linguistic and schematic knowledge (Wallace, 1992). Wallace (1992) adds that activities during pre-reading equip pupils with linguistic difficulties in a text. Pre-reading is important so that pupils because it will activate their background knowledge. "While-reading activities encourage learners to be flexible, active and reflective readers" in reading (Wallace, 1992, p. 93). Most of the activities during while-reading are group discussions, pair work and transfer of information. Post-reading activities intend to increase pupils' awareness of the topic (Wallace, 1992) so that they are able to integrate the new input with their existing input. Usually, post-reading activities are follow-up activities from pre and while-reading.
Reading skill is one of the essential skills that pupils need to acquire during primary school phase. This is because success in reading skill will lead to success in listening skill, writing skill and also speaking skill. Writing skill is very important especially in Malaysia because of the exam-oriented approach. So, when pupils are able to read fluently, it will help them in other areas of learning.
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY
The main concerns of this study were to identify the strategies frequently used by selected primary school teachers in improving comprehension of stories and how these strategies has helped primary school pupils to improve comprehension of stories. The study is conducted to raise teachers' awareness on the suitable strategies that they can use in reading comprehension. This section will discuss on the methodology used, the instruments and samples used while conducting the research.
3.1 Research Design
This research is conducted through qualitative approach which includes detailed explanations of what will be investigated. The duration for this research is 3 months. The instruments used while conducting this research are observation and semi-structured interview.
3.2 Methods of Data Gathering
The sample of this research will be 4 English teachers of a semi-rural primary school. The selected school will be in one of the northern areas in Malaysia. All the samples are majoring in English education. The samples are experienced in teaching English for several years.
Observation is conducted to 4 English teachers in a selected primary school. The teachers will be observed during the teaching of reading. Each observation will be observed for 30 minutes. A checklist (Appendix A) will be used during the observation to identify the strategies used during the teaching of reading. A checklist is used so that the information obtained is accurate.
18.104.22.168 Semi-structured Interview
Interview is carried out to the same English teachers to get information about the strategies used. The questions asked will be in semi-structured format. The interview will be conducted for about 30 minutes for each teacher. The questions of the interview will be attached as Appendix B.
3.3 Method of Data Analysis
The data collected from the checklist will be tabulated into a pie-chart. The data from the checklist will be gathered and analyzed to find out which strategies work the best for comprehension of stories. The data will be divided into several compartments like most strategies used or least strategies used.
3.3.2 Semi-structured Interview
The interview will be transcribed (Appendix C) so that it will be easy to discuss the findings. The transcriptions of the interview will be put as a sample. The transcriptions will be used to identify the teachers' views on their strategies used and strategies that do not aid pupils' comprehension of stories. All the data will be analyzed in a pie-chart so that the findings will be clearer.
In conclusion, reading habits should be inculcated when pupils begin their school phase. This is because reading will help pupils in their literacy skills, improve vocabulary and reduce their grammar errors. However, to inculcate reading in classroom, both teacher and pupils play important roles. Teacher needs to be a motivator and a facilitator to help pupils in reading comprehension. Pupils also need to be active participants of learning.