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From the last 30 years, there are a numerous changes in the both fields of reading research and practice, and especially after the 1980's.Because the research in 1980 has introduced new awareness for reading instruction. It has becoming a challenging task to make an integration of an arrangement of research and instructional literature in second language reading in the public school. From the last three decades, our understanding towards the terms of theory and practice has changed.
These changes in theory and practice are clearly defined in Silberstein (1987). According to Silberstein (1987)
Reading was considered as a tool for the strengthening of oral language instruction in the 1960. Under the influence of Audio-lingual methodology, reading was mostly used to study grammar and vocabulary or to practice pronunciation skills.
Through the early to mid-1970s, a number of researchers and teacher trainers
argued for the greater importance of reading (e.g., Eskey, 1973; Saville-Troike, 1973).
By the mid- to late 1970s, many researchers began to argue for a theory of reading based on work by Goodman (1967, 1985) and Smith (1971, 1979, 1982).
The research views of Goodman and Smith are known as "the psycholinguistic model of reading." Goodman's research forced him to criticize that reading is not just a process of gaining information from the page in a letter-by-letter, word-by-word manner. Rather, he argued that reading is a eclectic process. It was usually considered that fluent reader had not time to look all the words on the page rather it made sense that good readers used their prior knowledge and then read by predicting information, sampling the text and confirming the prediction (Grabe, 1991). Clarke and Silberstein (1977) outlined implications for instruction from a psycholinguistic model of reading. Reading was characterized as an active process of comprehending and needed to be taught strategies to students to read more efficiently (e. g., guess from context, define expectations, make inferences about the text, skimming for general idea and scanning to find specific information, etc.).
2-Reading and the Reading Process
According to present opinion second language reading are designed by research on first language learners. It is true to some extant because of long history of first language' first language students can comprehend easily and cognitive psychology and funding is also available. Due to these reasons first language reading research has done great progress in reading process. It helps the teachers and the researchers of second language what researchers of first language say about reading process and its development. The opinion of different researchers about reading is as follows:
"Reading is dealing between visible and invisible information" Smith (1973), according to smith there are two important factors are involved in reading process visible and none visible information. When visible information and invisible (background knowledge) are balanced that is purposeful reading.
Rumelhart (1977) explain that reading involves two factors reader and text, readers involvement into reading process also involved past experiences. Social and cultural factors also influenced on their reading.
According to Goodman reading is a particular process, partial use of language cues selected from perceptual input on the basis of reader's expectations.
Reading is a Psycholinguistic game and a process in which sampling, testing and sampling occurs.
Grabe (1991) explain that reading is a rapid process it is also purposeful; for entertainment, information, research and other purposes. A purpose also increases motivation level of learner.
At the end we can say that reading is a slow process it is a long term process and can not be taught simply in one or two courses. It takes considerable time for development.
3-Current Theories of L2 Reading
Here are three reading model of L1 which are frequently used in L2 reading process:
3. Interactive model
2.2.1 Bottom-up Models
When a L2 reader fined great difficulty in reading a text and read it with out under standing the context.
The bottom up models, explain that reading process start from interpreting the printed material and construct meaning from smallest chunks to the largest, and
than combine it with the prior knowledge (Barnett, 1989; Carrell, 1988; Urquarth
& Weir, 1998).
Boekaerts'model assumes that class room reward and environment that help to bring change in work style. When a student feels insecure he may use the environmental factors respectively.
Grabe and stoller (2002), explain that reading is a process in which reader translate the text step by step with the minimum interference of back ground knowledge (p.32). thus in bottom-up model the emphasis is on pieces of the text like letters, words, and sentences instead of over all message of the text. (Barnett 1989), are criticized because reader are much interested in reading text rather then comprehend the meaning.
Top-down models put stress on readers self regulation of the text and background knowledge beside the readers goal and beliefs (Anderson &Pearson, 1988). This is a rotation process of making guesses about the message of the text and investigates the text on the basis of prior knowledge (Goodman, 1968; Urquarth &Weir, 1998).Winne (1995) states that a self interpreted learner set goals to enhance knowledge and to maintain motivation when they began to study. They know about there goals and objectives.
b) Interactive Models
In the interactive model of reading, interaction means two different concepts: (a) a common interaction between the reader and text, that is the reader mostly used to gain information from the text. (b) An interaction between the bottom-up and top-down models that are working at the same time (Grabe, 1991; Carrel, 1988; Eskey, 1988).
In other words we can say that when the reader interprets the information from the text he uses his prior knowledge. Moreover, these two acts occur at the same time rather than step by step (Rumelhart, 1977).
As a result, there is the opportunity for the reader to overcome the problems in one aspect (e.g., vocabulary) by depending more on the other sources (e.g.
background information) (Stanovich, 1980). But a good reader uses the language knowledge (vocabulary and grammar) and world knowledge (background knowledge) through the use of reading strategies (Eskey, 1988; Carrell, 1988).
Rumelhart (1977) who is known as the originator of the reading interactive approach recommended that from different sources we can obtain different information and knowledge. He concludes that syntactical, semantic, lexical and orthographic knowledge influence the reader in comprehending a text. Both sensory and non sensory sources of knowledge come together at the one point and reading process is the product of simultaneous application of all the knowledge sources" (Rumelhart, 1977, p.588).
4-Reading Tasks and Purposes
Definitely, children's understanding of texts is affected by their purposes for reading. Also, comprehension varies depending upon the types of tasks related with the reading. For example, we are reading a novel simply because we want to recreate only we read and understand it one way. If we were to read that same novel to prepare for a book group discussion, we might read and understand it another way. If children are intended to read for the main idea, they are much more likely to provide an apposite report after go through the text than if they were not told about this before reading. In the like manner, children may answer the questions correctly if they know the tasks before reading than if they do not. Even after reading, the task can affect comprehension. Inferential questions after reading could be remembered by children accurately later on than children who were asked more literal questions (Wixson, 1984), and children answering inference
5-Sources of Difficulty in L2 Reading
The earlier decision about reading shows that it is not easy to categorize the difficulties into groups. A general point of view about this is that mostly problems generated from the lack of sufficient competence in second language and wrong use of skills by the second language readers.
Many researchers indicate that besides from these factors, different aspects of the text like linguistics complexity, lengthy content and organizational patterns also affect the comprehension skill of the reader.
The study focused on the relationship between proficiency levels (grammatical competence) and performance in reading. The research usually focused on two opposite poles: Is poor reading a 'reading problem' (strategies) or a 'language problem' (linguistics)? The research and results show that both equally dependent on context and many other variables. Yorio (1971) argues that reading problems are normally due to limited knowledge of language and language interference in the reading process. It refers that reading involves language knowledge, ability to understand and recall the prior knowledge and ability to make relationship between present and prior information.
Pardon and Waxman (1988) work shows that the wrong cognitive strategies are also the cause of conflict in the level of comprehension besides the students' level of English (L2).
Carrel's (1991) study arise a question whether reading in a second language depends on reading skills or on the level of proficiency.
It is strange for the researchers that students with learning disabilities are identified and classified only through discrepancy between cognitive potential and achievement of the students (e.g. Adelman, 1979; Francis et al., 2005; Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003).
Most of them have often demanded for more criteria for classification and identification to estimate the basic characteristics of the students with learning disabilities as Greenway & Milne (1999), Kline, Lachar, & Boersma (1993) have emphasized on the need of more criteria.
Vaughn & Fuchs (2003) and Kline et al. (1993) suggested that personality characteristics can aid identification of the disorder in ages of parent input. During hierarchical cluster analysis along with having low scores on achievement and intellectual measures, students with LD also had high scores on psychopathology indices (e.g.,Â psychoticÂ features), which indicated the existence of psychopathological disorder for students with LD (Breen & Barkley, 1984; Lufi & Darliuk, in press; Lufi, Okasha, &Cohen, 2004; Margalit & Zak, 1984; Martinez & Semrud-Clikeman, 2004; Noel,Â Hoy, King, Moreland, & Meera, 1992; Swanson & Howell, 1996).
In the like manner, Sideridis, Morgan, Botsas, Padeliadu, and Fuchs (2006) indicated that some psychopathology, emotion, and/or motivation variables were considerably more important interpreter of learning disabilities than various cognitive and metacognitive measures, though the vitality of metacognitive measures has been well approved (Botsas & Padeliadu, 2003). Also other studies have disproved the ability of cognitive variables alone to predict specific learning disabilities (e.g., Watkins, 2005).
Many problems concerning identification and classification are based on either conceptual or methodological grounds mostly. For example, some the scholars pointed out limitations in the definition of learning disabilities (e.g., Francis et al., 2005) and some of them ambiguity in measurement of IQ (MacMillan & Forness, 1998; Stuebing et al., 2002). Most of them adopted exception to the discrepancy between ability and achievement and planned alternative models (e.g., Kavale, 2001; Meyer, 2000; Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003) by utilizing multiple criteria (Sofie & Riccio, 2002).
Scruggs & Mastropieri, (2002) indicated that overidentification often create problem and also MacMillan & Siperstein, (2001) provided accounts of overidentification.
However, some of them have tried to raise problematic issues ofÂ heterogeneity, comorbidity, social, emotional, or cultural inconvenience, and inadequate instruction by focusing on how individuals react to learning (e.g., Gresham, 2002; Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003).
At last, most of the scholars pointed out the only existence of the construct of LD (e.g., Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes, Lipsey, & Roberts, 2001).
Â However, it is severely need to vast the field of criteria of assessing the students with various types of learning disabilities. With respect to factor of motivation, most of the researchers have concluded that students with learning insufficiency lack the motivation to engage in academic tasks (e.g., Bouffard & Couture, 2003; Fulk, Brigham, & Lohman, 1998; Lepola, 2004; Lepola, Salonen, & Vauras, 2000; Olivier & Steenkarnp, 2004; Valas, 1999, 2001). Lack of motivation orÂ maladaptiveÂ motivational thinking could cause for large inconsistency between typical student groups and students with LD on their appointment with academic tasks (e.g., Pintrich, Anderman, & Klobucar, 1994) Â As most of the students with LD often think that they are helpless (Sabatino, 1982; Sutherland & Singh, 2004).
So, it is more important to assay the contribution of motivational characteristics in students' learning and school experience (Guthrie & Cox, 2001; Guthrie & Wigfield, 1999; Lepola, Salonen, Vauras, & Poskiparta, 2004).Â
b) Affective processes:
some of the scholars pointed out the affective experience of students with learning disabilities. Students with LD are more close to get negative effect than their peers (Yasutake, & Bryan, 1995). Affective processes:
(a) are chief and precede cognitive processing (Forgas, 1991; Zajonc, 1980);
(b) Are considered automatic, not dependent on controlled processes; and
(c) Have a significant impact on subsequent cognitive processing and behavior (De Houwer & Hermans, 2001).
In short, the role of affective processing is more vital it definies types of engagement and motivational states during engagement. In the term of negative affect, students with LD typically have higher levels than their typical peers (Manassis & Young, 2000). Along with low achievement, this conclusion has been linked to the difficulty of students with LD toÂ socializeÂ (Bryan, Burstein, & Ergul, 2004). Covertly and overtly, both conclusions have been linked with these students' confusion, anxiety, and frustration at school level (Bay & Bryan, 1991).Â
c) Psychopathology and Learning DisabilitiesÂ
The prevalence ofÂ anxiety disordersÂ among LD students has been found to be above normative levels (e.g., Lufi & Darliuk, in press; Lufi et al., 2004; Paget & Reynolds, 1984). Psychopathology is responsible for considerable amounts of variability in achievement, compared to several cognitive and metacognitive variables. (Sideridis et al. 2006)Â
d) Reasons for need of classification of students with LD
According to researches conducted by the different scholars, classification studies are needed at least for causes:
(1) Because the identification criteria of the disorder have been questioned (Francis et al., 2005; Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003), and several researchers have asked for a reconceptualization of the disorder (Kavale, 2001; Sofie & Riccio, 2002);
(2) Because cognitive variables are sometimes poor predictors of LD (Forness, Keogh, MacMillan, Kavale, & Gresham, 1998; Watkins, 2005; Watkins,Â Kush, & Glutting, 1997; Watkins, Kush, & Schaefer, 2002); and
(3) because empirical classification studies provide evidence of the presence of co-morbid characteristics (e.g., Kline et al., 1993).
8-Comprehension: Comprehension is "intentional thinking during which meaning is constructed through interactions between text and the reader" (Harris & Hodges, 1995).
Therapeutic strategies targeting reading comprehension that were used during the reading groups (discussed below) are supported in the professional literature.
1) Exposure and Opportunity:
Increasing the frequency of reading (amount of time spent reading) improves reading comprehension (Anderson, Wilson & Fielding, 1988).
2) Activating Prior Knowledge:
Activating and adding to readers knowledge base increases text understanding (Beck, Omanson, & McKeown, 1982, Hansen & Pearson, 1983).
3) Formulating Questions Based on Knowledge and Predictions:
Student generated questions lead to increased level of text processing (Craik & Lockhart, 1972); (Andre & Anderson, 1978-1979 as cited in Dole, Duffy, Roehler, Pearson, 1991).
Instruction to promote student-generated questions results in improved text comprehension (Brown & Palinscar, 1985; Yopp, 1988, both cited in Pearson & Duke, 2002).
4) Vocabulary & Context Clues:
Instruction in vocabulary increases comprehension skills (National Reading Panel, 2000; RAND Reading Study Group, 2002 both as cited by Silliman & Wilkinson, 2004); (Stahl & Fairbanks, 1986).
Vocabulary instruction needs to be targeted both directly (repetition, multiple exposures, highlighting, discussion) and indirectly (incidental exposure in context)(NRP, 2000 as cited by Silliman & Wilkinson, 2004).
Students must fill in details missing in text (draw inferences) and elaborate on what they read to construct meaning (Dole, Duffy, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991).
6) Monitoring for Comprehension:
There are two components to comprehending while reading: 1) being aware of the quality and degree of understanding and 2) knowing what to do when comprehension fails. Students must be taught strategies for when comprehension fails (Dole, Duffy, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991).
Teaching strategies that enable students to monitor and take specific actions to improve their reading comprehension is an effective means of facilitating understanding text (Vaugh, 2000 as cited by Meyer & Felton, 1999); (Pressley et. al., 1992).
"Reading comprehension has come to be viewed as the "essence of reading" (National Reading Panel, 2000, p. 4-1)
Reading comprehension has been defined in many ways by many researchers and scholars. Proficient reading always revolves around the capability of recognition of words fast and easily.Â (Adams, 1994), (Â Marilyn , 1994).Â If they are weak in recognition, they may comprehend the text hardly so, it is, therefore, many researchers included the term word recognition in their expressions.For reading comprehension teaching, there are a lot methods along with prior read- test method. There are a lot of tools for text understanding accurately (Pressley, 2006).Â
The major purpose of reading is to be comprehended and comprehension failure can cause failure of the school. For this purpose, much work has been done in assessing and understanding comprehension (RAND Reading Study Group, 2002).
Interesting nature of reading always been focused by cognitive based views of reading comprehension (Rumelhart & Ortony, 1977) and provide a difficult description of the reading comprehension process.
Text comprehension includes much more language skills. Such as lower-level lexical skills like word reading efficiency and vocabulary knowledge, sentence-level like as knowledge of grammatical structure and higher-level text processing skills like inference generation, comprehension monitoring and working memory capacity (Hannon & Daneman, 2001; Perfetti & Hart, 2001; Perfetti, Marron, & Foltz, 1996).
Efficient lower-level lexical skills lead to higher-level processes. Higher-level skills are related to text comprehension because they enable the reader to make the necessary integrative and inferential links to construct a meaning-based representation of the text (Cain &Oakhill, 2006).
Reading comprehension is the process of coining different meaning through interaction and involvement with written language. The reader, the text, and the activity or purpose for reading are the three elements of reading comprehension ( RAND, 2002)
Oral comprehension requires less intentional instructions to be developed whereas; reading comprehension requires more intentions as human beings practicing oral comprehension for more than 100,000 years (Donald, 1991).
Almost all human beings have been doing oral comprehension but the matter with reading comprehension is quite different because it has been done for 5000 years approximately and all human beings did not practice it as well (Olson, 1994).
Reading comprehension is the product of decoding and listening comprehension Gough and Tunmer (1986). The view put forth by Gough and Tunmer (1986) is the best indication with respect to data (Johnston & Kirby, 2006). This formula provides us the chance to examine the reading skills in the required person. If a person has low decoding skills and low listening comprehension skills, it is normally understood that he/ she has definitely low reading comprehension skills and vice versa.
Kuhn & Stahl, (2003) defined fluency as speed and expression, is the first important factor in reading comprehension. Strategies which are also very important factor in reading were put forth by (Dole et al., 1991). These are two very important factors in reading comprehension. Strategies are conscious, goal-directed and deliberate processing which may vary from underline long words to create a mental simulation to see if the author is right (Kirby, 1988).Depending upon the prior knowledge and learner's intentions the strategies could be narrated as deep and surface processing (Biggs, 1993), and also depth and breadth (Kirby & Woodhouse, 1994).
Bottom-up processing, Top-down processing, Themes, Main ideas words are included in the pieces of information. Comprehension is a process of relating two or more pieces of information (Kintsch, 1999). Though, these pieces of information come from long term memory yet in reading comprehension one piece of information must come from the text. The process of relating information is conducted in the working memory (Baddeley, 1986). During reading process we update our mental entries of the meaning of the text and these entries are called mental models (Johnson-Laird, 1983). These entries are often named situation models (Kintsch, 1999).
Where does it come from?
Vocabulary knowledge (Wagner et al., 2007) and prior knowledge are considered as the major contributors to listening comprehension, in spite of other factors which are related to verbal intelligence.
Since last two decades or so, we have been trying to know how the brain gets the lower-level aspects of reading, particularly decoding (e.g., Adams, 1990; Rayner et al., 2001). It is understood that many factors contribute to word reading, including phonological knowledge (Stanovich, 2000), naming speed (Wolf & Bowers, 1999), orthographic information (Levy et al., 2006), morphological consciousness (Deacon & Kirby, 2004), and phonics acquaintance (Adams, 1990).
Fluency is less understood (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003), but evidently depends upon decoding competence, and cognitive and naming pace (Wolf & Bowers, 1999).
b) Who is bad at it
Many children like better other activities instead of reading, and that text content may change competent person into an unenthusiastic reader very hurriedly (Pressley, 2002, chapter 8).
Children with reading disabilities have hurdles in reading comprehension (Cornoldi & Oakhill, 1996). Normally, word reading, is critical for reading comprehension.
Reading disabled children may produce apposite levels of reading comprehension if time period is not enforced on them (Lefly & Pennington, 1991). It involves much practice, re-reading, and strategy use. Different scholars named group of children as poor comprehenders (e.g., Nation, 2005).
These children have normal word level processing. Some language difficulties involve drawing inferences, understanding figurative language, and monitoring their own comprehension often creates difficulties in reading comprehension.
10-Assessment of reading comprehension
Reading comprehension is based on many cognitive processes to be assessed and commonly used tests are not included in cognitive processes (RAND Reading Study Group, 2002).
There was a stronger relationship between decoding and comprehension, when comprehension was assessed with the cloze test, rather than with multiple-choice questions (Francis, Fletcher, Catts and Tomblin 2005)
key factors that differ between reading comprehension tests, such as the type of questions, the type of text, the background knowledge that may contribute to comprehension and whether the test is timed or not ( Siegel,1999)
They may involve inferences, memory for details, or the general point of the passage (Siegel, 1999).
It is very likely that a large part of reading "comprehension" ability consists of memory skills (Tal & Siegel, 1996): individuals must decode words and obtain meaning from them, but also he or she must retain the information in working memory and be able to answer questions about the content of the reading passage.
Topic-relevant prior knowledge refers to readers'pre-existing knowledge related to the text content and is often measured with open-ended and/or multiple choice questions on vocabulary and relevant factual information (Shapiro, 2004).
An individual's familiarity with the material in the text can determine how he or she will score on a reading comprehension test (Drum, Calfee, & Cook, 1981; Marr & Gormley, 1982). The time required to read a passage may also be an integral part of the reading score.
A difficulty with reading comprehension tests is that frequently the questions can be answered with a reasonable amount of accuracy without reading or comprehending the passage (Tal & Siegel, 1996). Siegel (1999) concluded, that â€•Obviously, the problem with having so much variability in measurement is that many different skills are assessed.
11-Factors affecting reading comprehension development
A number of factors explaining students' achievement in reading affect reading comprehension. Several studies have indicated gender, self-esteem, motivation and interest towards reading, parents' education, socioeconomic and culture capital, situation at home as well as ethnicity being factors influencing reading literacy level (Elley, 1994; Lehmann, 1996; Lietz, 1996; Fredriksson, 2002).
Denton and West (2002) have pointed to pre-school reading activities and reading in family having effect to a large extent on the later reading achievement. D. A. Wagner (1991) indicated that home factor has a great impact on reading or reading comprehension. Reading aloud to children at pre-school age has a positive effect on reading literacy during school level (Lyon, 1999; Denton, Reaney & West, 2001; Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998).
IEA (reading literacy study) 1991 concluded that for 9-years-old number of books and newspapers at home along with language at home and standard meals play vital role in students' reading achievement (Taube & Mejding, 1996).
School and parent cooperation, emphasis on reading instruction, school size and dislocation plays a pivotal role in reading (Postlethwaite & Ross, 1992; Lietz, 1996).
The role of Prior Knowledge, Background, experience, and Vocabulary
The influence of children's prior knowledge and their experience are hard to determine accurately. Children's learning from text, Alexander and
Jetton (2000) indicated that: "Of all the factors (involved in
learning from text), none exerts more influence on
what students understand and remember than the
knowledge they possess" (p. 291).
Since 30 years, it has been trying to estimate how prior knowledge and experience influence reading comprehension (Lipson, 1982, 1983). The more exact and detailed knowledge readers have about the ideas, concepts, or events portrayed in the text, the better they will understand it. Where as, the short knowledge about any thing always creates trouble for the reader.
In book, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow & Griffin, 1998), described that the breadth and depth of a child's literacy experiences count a lot in reading comprehension. Almost every facility must be provided to children to make their prior knowledge better for the sake of good comprehension of the text (p. 219).
This description indicates the strong association between readers' prior knowledge and their vocabulary development. The significance of vocabulary improvement as a vital contributor to reading comprehension has long been recognized and broadly studied (See Beck, McKeown &Omanson, 1999).
In Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, the authors describe why vocabulary development might predict reading comprehension. Learning new perception and words that encode them is indispensable to comprehension development. (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998, p. 217). The research suggests that English Language Learners (ELL) "who develop a strong linguistic and cognitive base in their primary language tend to transfer those attitudes and skills to the other language and culture" (Ovando, 1993, p. 225) and are more successful at learning to read and write in English (Hudleson, 1987).
Excellent prior knowledge and apposite experiences positively enhance comprehension but broadly reading also increases vocabulary and triggers conceptual maturity.
Research suggests that young children often understand and retain information only by parts of stories (Lipson, Mosenthal, & Mekkelsen,1999). Most obviously, when young children bring to mind stories, it may difficult to notify whether children have understood the casual associations or tensions that mature readers would expect from stories or not (Lipson et al., 1999; Stein & Gleen, 1979).
b) The role of Text, it structure, and its organization on reading comprehension:
In spite of reader's skill and good prior knowledge, his/ her comprehension varies depending on the type of text he/ she is going to read. Obviously, harder the material , the more difficult for comprehending it will be and vice versa.
For example, the relationship between the pictures and text may make the story difficult to be understood. . To be sure, that pictured events and concepts are appreciably could be recalled than non-pictured events (Lipson et al., 1999).
If the pictures support the main themes and ideas of the story, this is good. And if the pictures are not supportive or convert children's attention to insignificant side events (called "seductive details") this may be problematic (Alexander & Jetton, 2000). Structure, complexity and genre may affect reader's inference in spite of how efficient decoders they may be (Goldman & Rakestraw, 2000; Lipson et al., 1999).
c) Organization of text
Adjunct Aids (illustrations, headings, boldface,type, charts, figures, maps, summaries, etc.) Coherence and Unity (devices to help clarify, connect, and relate the ideas in text - e.g. connectives, pronouns, linking word s ) Narratives typically share a common set of features and structures called a "story grammar" (Stein & Glenn, 1979).
d) Text Structures: ( in the shape of Exposition)
The ideas within a text can be prearranged in a number of diverse ways. Teachers and children often focus on the series of events and, indeed, these are significant in many narrative stories. Not all text structures are equally easy to understand. Stories are often easier to be comprehended than exposition for many young readers and, within expository text , certain organizational patterns are easier than others (Armbruster, 1984).
e) The role of Complexity:
Covertly and overtly, the complexity of the materials affects comprehension. Stories with multiple characters and events are much more difficult for all readers than stories that contain one character or simple events. However, there are also several characters whose motivations need to be understood and the elements of fantasy which are more difficult to be comprehended by children. Although this fact is hardly astonishing, given the early work on story comprehension ( McConaughy, 1982; Stein & Nezworski, 1978; Thorndyke, 1977).
Certainly, these well-written and well-constructed stories a re more easily comprehended than less well ordered stories (Brennan, Bridge, & Winograd, 1986; Olson, 1985). To examine the real context which is easily understandable to the young children is a big challenge for text creators. It is to know that what sort of text the readers like more whether story type or other kind of material.
f) Gender distinction:
Overall female gender means higher reading achievement level, e.g., in PIRLS 2001 in all participated countries girls had significantly higher achievement than boys, and the international average difference was 20 points (Mullis, et al., 2003). In PIRLS 2006 only two of participating countries (Luxembourg and Spain) did not have a statistically significant gender distinction in reading achievement, and the international average difference was 17 scale points (Mullis, et al., 2007). What might be the theoretical reasons behind the gender gap in reading? Willis (1989) offers three different explanations:
(1) Biological determinism: "Girls are just born to read better".
(2) Social determinism: "Girls are the ones who study languages".
(3) Free choice: "Boys just do not choose reading".
Boys reading could be improved by the changes in cultural environment (Baker, et al., 1996). Which changes could be more effective is still a burning question for different researchers because they have a greater impact on boys reading literacy than the others.
Questions become better at inferential understanding in adults with the passage of time than children who are not asked these types of questions (Hansen, 1981). In matter of influence of tasks on students' motivation and strategic development, students use more strategies, persevere longer, and control their attention better during open contrary to that of closed literacy tasks (Turner, 1995)
Turner and Paris (1995) indicated tasks that require collaboration are most likely to result in motivated, strategic, and reflective literacy behaviors.
Tasks should be harmonized to purposes so that students have the chance to develop a full range of necessary skills and abilities to comprehend a wide range of texts.
g) The Role of Fluency
Fluency is more important to comprehension as it is related with word accuracy but this point is also to agreed that "word recognition accuracy is not the end point of reading instruction. Fluency represents a level of expertise beyond word recognition; accuracy and comprehension may be aided by fluency" (NPR, p. 303). It is known by the newly researches that accuracy and fluency are separable skills, and that fluency is more powerfully associated with comprehension skill than that of decoding (Baker, To rgesen, & Wa g n e r, 1992).
By and large, most of the researchers argue that weak decoding is a big reason for taking cognitive efforts and attention that the reader cannot focus attention on comprehending the text. Fluency, according to this point of view, is so much vital as it involves rapid recognition of words (through instant recognition or quick analysis using orthographic spelling patterns). Fluency involves not just quick word recognition, but also attention to phrase boundaries (Schreiber, 1980; 1987). Also, National Reading Panel (2000) reports as fluency could include the ability to group words sufficiently as well into meaningful grammatical units for accurate interpretation. More interestingly, fluency has been made known to have a reciprocal connection to comprehension, with each nurturing the other (Stre c k e r, Roser, & Martinez, 1998, p.307).
Fluency makes a text trouble free from cognitive efforts and plays a pivotal role in comprehension process.
Fluency: Fluency is described as the ability to read text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression (NICHD, 2000 as cited by Silliman & Wilkinson, 2004). Fluent reading provides freedom from word identification problems that might hinder comprehension (Harris & Hodges, 1995 p. 85).
Therapeutic strategies targeting reading fluency that were used during the reading groups (discussed below) are supported in the professional literature.
Developing an anticipatory set ("setting the stage" by activating prior knowledge) helps students predict text content (Hook, conference 8/2005).
Evidence supports the use of repeated readings to improve reading fluency (Rasinski, 1989) (Dowhower, 1987; Herman, 1985; Samuels, 1979) (National Reading Panel, 2000 as cited by Silliman & Wilkinson, 2004).
Repeated Readings improve reading speed as measured by number of words per minute (Rasinski, 1990; Faulkner & Levy, 1994).
Marking phrase boundaries with pencil slashes / vertical lines has proven to aid in reading fluency (Weiss, 1983).
Chunking / Scooping (breaking sentences into phrase units) paired with repeated readings improves reading fluency (Hook, conference 8/2005).
Evidence supports the teacher as the primary model of fluent reading, thus the teacher should read aloud to model fluency (Rasinski, 1989)
Scaffolding or support while reading is critical to the development of reading fluency. Choral reading is a form of support reading in which students read a selected passage in unison with the teacher as the lead.
The use of tape-recorded passages (while students read along simultaneously) provides support during oral reading and allows students to practice their fluency independently (Carbo, 1978).
Fluency is best promoted when students are able to read a passage accurately and automatically, as they are able to focus on reading with expression, versus struggling to decode (Rasinski, 1989).
Research has demonstrated that fluency instruction can be an effective means of enhancing students' understanding of text (Vaughn, 2000). In fact, Sedita 2001 states that fluency is essential for reading comprehension.
The theory of automatic information processing (Samuels, 1979) states that fluent decoding allows the reader to direct cognitive resources towards comprehension (Vaughn, 2000).
According to Vaughn 2000, an increase in fluent reading leads to an increase in comprehension & vice versa.
h) The Role of Strategies
Reading ability both comprehension and word recognition is assisted when readers use strategies. From older to young every body may employ strategies during reading.
Able readers can benefit from explicit instructions and effective instructional support (National Reading Panel, 2000)
The feature real talented readers and writers is that they could use strategic knowledge accurately, coordinating and adapting the different skills and strategies to achieve a specific reading or writing task and purpose (Duff y, 1993; Dole et al., 1991; Paris, Lipson, & Wixson, 1983; Pearson et al., 1992).
In the view point of Pearson, Dole, and their colleagues (1991/1992), strategies are "conscious and flexible plans that readers apply and adapt to a variety of texts and tasks. . . . Skills, by contrast, are viewed as highly routinized, almost automatic behaviors."(Dole, Duff y, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991, p. 242). Skills are generally thought to be less complex than strategies.
Strategies have a major role in reading comprehension and can be acquired by various ways. Being a skillful reader is a different thing and a strategic reader is another thing. Even a skillful reader may not able to use various flexible strategies in reading comprehension. Covertly and overtly, exposure and experience alone do not appear to ensure controlled knowledge and use of strategies.
12-Reading comprehension strategies:
The National Reading Panel (2000) put forth eight type of instructions in reading comprehension as below:
(1) graphic organizers and
(2) story structure, but also pre - reading activities and
guided reading and questioning strategies.
(3) comprehension monitoring,
(4) summarizing, and
( 5 )multiple-strategy teaching
(6) cooperative learning
(7) question answering and
(8) question generation approache s .
There is a strong association between voluntary reading and writing and general reading and writing achievement (Greaney, 1980; Morro w, 1983). The time span children spend reading books is firmly associated to reading comprehension and reading achievement gains (Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding, 1988; Ta y l o r, Frye, & Maruyama, 1990).
Reading practice is to develop both the ability to comprehend and general cognitive competence as Stanovich (1992) has argued, ". . . reading does make people smarter". Both the abilities to comprehend and general cognitive competence exposure to print and self-governing reading promote and develop vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Outstandingly, "exposure to print is efficacious regardless of the level of the child's cognitive and reading abilities. We do not have to wait for 'pre requisite' abilities to be in place before encouraging free reading" (Stanovich, 1992,). So, it is therefore, there should be a large range of reading system in which classrooms must also include a large and accessible collection of books ( Morrowet. al., 1999; Neuman, 1999; Mosenthal et al).
Students should be directed to be good readers and creators of authentic material for sake of becoming excellent strategic readers( Brown, Collins, & Deguid, 1989; Duff y, 1993;Resnick, 1987).
At large, many authors advocated for using teacher read-aloud for comprehension instruction while at the same time using more controlled text for beginning readers to practice word-level skills and strategies (Honig, Diamond, & Gutlohn, 2000).
Anderson et al. (1985) says:
" using instructional time to build background knowledge pays dividends in comprehension" and "useful approaches to building background knowledge prior to a reading lesson focus on the concepts that will be central to understanding the upcoming story, concepts that children either do not possess or may not think of without prompting" (p. 50).
Scaffolding had been portrayed as any support that directs somebody to tackle a problem, perform a task, or attain a goal that he/ she could not accomplish without support (Wood, Bruner, and Ross, 1976).Graphic organizers and visual maps are among the very best types of scaffolding for literacy (National Reading Panel, 2000).
Expository texts are often more complex and variable, so graphic organizers can be especially helpful to young or less-skilled readers. The teacher should try to make the students more fluent in reading using guided or supported reading during reading (NPR, 2000).
Many ELL students can promote from enhanced support. For students
Who are prone to this can benefit by additional information about vocabulary and key concepts.
Though several students learn different strategies by their own without instructions yet stylish use of strategies and coordinated skills usually require explicit instructions(Paris, Lipson, & Wixson, 1983; Paris, Wasik , & Turner, 1991).
During explicit instruction, teachers utilize a range of techniques:
5- Application (Dickson,Collins, Simmons, and Kameenui, 1998).
Direct explanation is important, because many students are not able to take out critical information from their experiences. They need the teacher to explain exactly what they are learning, how to use it, and why it is essential. After that, students gain from teacher modeling o f composite strategies. As teachers "think aloud" about their cognitive events, students may see it and able to imitate this kind of activities. Guided practice is especially important, because students are expected to have "conditional" knowledge regarding the strategies they are learning (Paris, Lispson, & Wixson, 1983).
As children use their newly acquired strategies keeping in mind the supported contexts, teachers can provide feedback. at long last, children must have sufficient opportunities to apply the strategies to new texts so that they may obtain independence and strength of will.
Explicit instructions are so much apposite for readers to acquire an approval of text structure and employ it to improve comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000).
Literature discussion enhances motivational level of the students to a large extent as the National Reading Panel (2000) has reported that research always hold up the efficiency of corporative grouping and any approach which increases student's questioning-answering abilities.
Two approaches to literature discussion that have well-built research foundations are "Book Club",put forth by Raphael and her colleagues (see McMahon, Raphael, Goatley, & P a rdo, 1997) and "Question the Author" (QtA) introduced by Isabel Back and her colleagues (Beck et al., 1996; Beck, McKeown, Hamiliton, & Kucan, 1997).
Book Club is the major feature of QtA. Since the most important purpose for QtA is to help students build understanding from text to enhance and improve comprehension.
Beck et al, (1996) notes that, in QtA classrooms, teacher questions and student responses become more meaning-oriented where students become more active participant in discussion.
These approaches may be particularly supportive to ELL students (Goatley, Brock & Raphael, 1995) who can benefit from the group interactions. Students 'comprehension of English text may be improved by discussing the text in their first language (Rigg & Allen, 1989; Freeman & Freeman, 1994, 2000).
To a large extent, a number of students, mainly younger ones, may enjoy dramatizing the reading and all can benefit from visual interpretations.
Reading Strategies of Successful and Unsuccessful Learners
The research in first language studies has introduced many reading strategies. Many reading strategies have proven effective for the improvement of students reading comprehension in first language study (Baker and Brown, 1984; Brown, 1981; Palinscar and Brown, 1984).
Reading strategies are used by successful and unsuccessful language learners. Hosenfeld (1977) used a procedure of think-aloud to find out relations between reading strategies and successful or unsuccessful second language reading.
The successful reader, for example, during reading keep the meaning of the passage in mind, skipped the less important words, and had a positive self-concept as a reader. On the other hand the unsuccessful reader, while reading lost the meaning of the sentences, read in short phrases, seldom skipped words as unimportant, and had a negative self-concept.
Block (1986) in her study of non-proficient readers also used a think-aloud procedure from which she obtained information about four characteristics, that are integration, recognition of aspects of text structure, use of general knowledge, personal experiences and associations, and response in extensive versus reflexive modes. These characteristics make difference between successful and unsuccessful readers.
In the reflexive mode, the attention of the reader scattered and they directed their attention towards themselves and away from the text and focused on their own thoughts and feelings, rather than gaining information from the text. In addition, they tended to respond as the first or second person.
In the extensive mode, on the other hand the reader focuses on understanding the ideas of the author and to obtain knowledge from the text and not relate the text to them. They tended to respond in the third person.
Block examined one group which she considered as "integrators", they were generally aware of text structure, by getting the message conveyed by the author responded in an extensive mode, and monitored their understanding regularly.
On the other hand the "non-integrators" failed to integrate, did not recognize text structure, and were reflexive in that, they depended much more on their personal experiences.
Overall, we can say that the "non-integrators" have less progress in developing their reading skills and have low ability of comprehending the passage.
From all above mentioned reading strategies, it could be deduced that following tips may be helpful to the readers at all levels:
Apply strategies to comprehend words and ideas
Understand and apply content/academic vocabulary critical to the meaning of the text, including vocabularies relevant to different contexts, cultures, and communities.
Apply comprehension monitoring strategies during and after reading: determine importance using theme, main idea, and supporting details in grade-level informational/expository text and/or literary/narrative text.
Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives, and expositions: use prior knowledge
Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives, and expositions: synthesize ideas from selections to make predictions and inferences
Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives, and expositions: monitor for meaning, create mental images, and generate and answer questions
Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives, and expositions: determine importance and summarize the text
Apply understanding of complex organizational features of printed text and electronic sources
Analyze story elements
Apply understanding of text organizational structures
Analyze informational/expository text and literary/narrative text for similarities and differences and cause and effect relationships
Evaluate informational materials, including electronic sources, for effectiveness
Evaluate the use of literary devices to enhance comprehension
Synthesize information from a variety of sources
Analyze informational/expository text and literary/narrative text to draw conclusions and develop insights
Analyze author's purpose and evaluate an author's style of writing to influence different audiences
Analyze and evaluate text for validity and accuracy
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the author's use of persuasive devices in influence an audience.