An Interactive Approach to Senior Middle School Reading Teaching
For a fairly long time, ELT in China has been structured in the network of the textbook. Teachers teach the texts while students read them, recite them and do some relevant exercises. Language teaching is seen as a “knowledge-imparting” process and language learning as a “knowledge-receiving” process (Jin Xiuying, 2000: 25-26).
In interaction, students can use all they possess of the language-all they have learned or casually absorbed--in real-life exchange (Crystal, 1987: 4-5). A teacher tries to guide students to do reading practice in an interactive way.
In general terms, reading involves the reader, the text, and the interaction between reader and text. It is the interaction between purpose and manner of reading, the interaction through reading strategies and the interaction through schema (Aebersold, J. A, and Field, M. L, 1997: 156).
Deena’s book Patterns of Cultures gave us a lot of enlightenment.
Reading comprehension is a complicated process as we stated before. It involves the reader, the writer and the printed information.
2.2.1 Reading Comprehension as Cognitive-Based Processing
Samuels defines three characteristics of internal attention (1994: 818-819).
The first, alertness, is the reader’s active attempt to access relevant involvement letter-sound relationships, syntactic knowledge, and word meanings.
2.2.2 Reading Comprehension as Socio-Cognitive Processing
Ruddell and Ruddell state, “The role of the classroom’s social context and the influence of the teacher on the reader’s meaning negotiation and construction are central to this model as it explore the notion that participants in literacy events from and reform meanings in a hermeneutic (interpretation) circle” (1994: 813).
2.3.1 Bottom-Up Model
The bottom-up model regards reading as a process of transforming the surface structure of a text into its deep structure.
Both tests materials are carefully extracted from Brown’s Types of English Discourse Markers.
2.3.2 Top-Down Model
It can be seen from the description above that Goodman’s model is basically concept driven, or top-down pattern in which “higher-level processes interact with, and direct the flow of information through, lower-level processes” (Stanovich, 1980: 34), although Goodman himself repeatedly refused to characterize his theory this way.
2.3.3 The Interactive Model
But “top-down models do have some limitation” (Eskey, 1988: 93). A top-down model can be an appropriate one for the skillful, fluent readers, for whom the perception, decoding or recognition of graphic cues have become automatic. The recognition and analysis of the limitation of the top-down models result in a more comprehensive view of reading as an interactive process (Rumelhart, 1977: 56 McClelland, 1981: 145 Lesgold, 1981: 102).
2.4.1 Definition of Interaction
In the first place, linguists found that it is necessary to distinguish intake from input. The weekly report put forward several suggestions about organizational reform (International Monetary Fund, 1994: 15, hereafter IMF).
2.4.2 Interactive Reading
According to Long’s interaction hypothesis, what promotes the development of second (or foreign) language proficiency is the process of face-to-face linguistic interaction, not merely the encountering of “input” (qtd. in Johnson, 2001: 950).
2.4.3 Interactive Teaching Principles
Brown points out that true human interaction is best accomplished when focal attention is on meanings and messages and not on grammar and other linguistic forms (Vol.1, 1994: 159-160).
The most obvious characteristic of classroom interaction is that teaching is more student-centered than teacher-centered. The term learner-centered teaching applies to curricula as well as to specific techniques.
In interactive language teaching, we need an ambiance and relations to promote a desire for interaction among students.
The record pointed out the great progress in improving the financial cooperatives in China’s countryside (IMF, 1999: 4).
A vast amount of research in first language reading and reading strategies has found that good reading are better at monitoring their comprehension than poor readers, that they are more aware of the strategies they use than are poor readers, and that they use strategies more flexibly and efficiently (Pressley et al., 1992: 123).
3.4.1 Interaction between Reader and Text
Students draw a picture to illustrate what was just read or some aspect of it, such as the room where the action took place. Students look for specific information, such as selecting a meal from a menu or identifying times of arrival and departure in airline or railway schedules.
3.4.2 Interaction between Reader and Reader over text
After reading a short descriptive paragraph about something or someone in which the name of the person or object is not revealed, students in small groups try to guess who or what is being talked about or draw a picture of the person or object.
For most EFT learners who are already literate in a previous language, reading comprehension is primarily a matter of developing appropriate, efficient comprehension.
Being able to read rapidly is an essential skill for all students, because it enables them to enlarge their knowledge, to find recreation and enjoyment, and to improve their achievement in different ways.
Richards summarizes two main roles of a teacher: the first role is to facilitate the learning process between all participants in the classroom and between these participants and the various activities and the texts (1989: 186).
The result shows that the students seemed to be provided with opportunities to acquire English through the following classroom interaction: pair work, group discussion and whole class activity, as well as the interaction between reader and text.
In summary, through interactive reading activities, on one hand, students gain more effective reading skills, on the other hand, students can develop their abilities of all-round application of the language.
Nevertheless, this is only a tentative study on the application of interactive approach to senior middle school English reading instruction. There is still a lot more for us to explore in the pedagogic values of it. Therefore, the author believes that this thesis is only a beginning of such endeavor and it is the author’s hope that further research in this respect will be more frequently carried out in the future.