pdf INTEGRATING STRATEGIES IN READING LITERARY MATERIALS

                                                            Dr.  BOUSBAI ABDELAZIZ

 University Kasdi Merbah – Ouargla(Algeria)

  يسمى إدخال الاستراتجيات في تدريس النص الأدبي بالتدريس الاستراتيجي كتشبيه للاستراتيجيات المستعملة  في المجال العسكري . وهي عبارة عن تقنيات تجرى على مراحل وتقدم للمتعلم على شكل إجراءات يقوم باستعمالها عند اقتضاء الضرورة ، حيث يقوم المتعلم باستعمالها وفق كمية المعلومات التي تعطى مع النص والمعلومات التي تكمن في النص. تعتبر استراتيجيات القراءة عبارة عن تقنيات يتبع فيها المتعلم مراحل معينة تساعده على الإلمام واستثمار كل جوانب النص الذي يراد قراءته من صور بيانية وإيضاحية إلى التراجم والمعلومات الجانبية المرفقة مع النص .تهدف استراتيجيات القراءة إلى تعزيز قدرات المتعلم وتعزيز ردود فعله أثناء قراءة النصوص خاصة النصوص الأدبية حيث تزوده بإجراءات تعليمية تساعده على ترتيب عملية القراءة والتسلسل السلس في الفهم.

يهدف هذا المقال إلى تسليط الضوء على مفهوم استراتيجيات قراءة وتحليل النص الأدبي وكيفية إدراجها في أنواع القراءة الأدبية المكثفة والنقدية والمطالعة.   

Strategies are learner-centered techniques adapted to different levels from preliminary teaching programmers to highly advanced ones. They aim at fostering the learners’ own reading abilities and enhancing their reflection, comprehension, and retention in close reading situation such as the case of intensive reading course, notably, literature programmes in foreign language classes. Incorporating strategic techniques in the area of teaching and learning has been called Strategic Teaching (Bosma & Block, 1992), in imitation to military and business fields which adopted this concept long before (Liddell, 1987).  The major aim of this paper is first to highlight the concept of strategic teaching/learning and how it might be integrated in processing literary materials, and second to develop teaching stages in accordance with the two major reading types: intensive and extensive.

 

 

Introduction

Before probing into details and displaying the stages and procedures of reading strategies which will be the base for intensive and extensive literary reading, it would be necessary to announce that the significance and utility of teaching strategies has been proved in our Master of Arts study (2006). The study investigates skills and strategies used in developing learners’ comprehension of literary texts in foreign language context. Actually, data and findings gained from the study strengthened our hypothesis to adapt Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (USSR), Survey, Question (Q), Read (R), Recite (R), Review (R), and Critical Reading (CR) teaching strategies to literary materials reading. The three strategies are respectively designed to extensive reading, intensive reading, and critical reading.

1. Strategy Defined 

The concept of strategy came into usage just in the 1980’s in the field of teaching/ learning and education (Bosma & Block, 1992(. Before this date theorists and educationists used the terms skill or skill teaching. Liddell (op. cit) confirms that "strategy is the art of the employment of battles as a means to gain the object of war". Battles then are only means of achieving a long term strategic end which is, in this contest, the war. In applying this in the field of education and learning, we can associate battles to the set of activities, techniques, and procedures used in class in order to attain an ultimate goal, i.e, understanding, comprehending and succeeding. In literature course comprehending of course should lead to personal interpretation of literary texts (Rosenblatt, 1995). Mintzberg (op. cit) believes that strategy refers to man's actions over

 time with accordance to his intention and perspectives, and thus, it aims at changing his reality through making decisions and providing direction and guidance.

Kenneth (1980, 18-19) reports that: “Strategy is the pattern of decisions - in company - that determines and reveals its objectives, purposes, or goals, produces the principal policies and plans for achieving those goals. This definition obviously reinforces Kenneth's conception of strategy. It considers strategy - though this in a company- as a plan. It implies and determines all possible ways, measures and decisions to achieve certain objectives and purposes generally designed by the company.

According to Hax (1990) strategy is “The pattern or plan that integrates an organization's major goals, policies and action sequences into a cohesive whole”. For Mintzberg et al (1998), strategy is a pattern in a stream of decision. He then developed five Ps and called them 5 Ps of strategy these are: Plan, Pattern, Position, Perspective, Ploy. This definition concerns us a lot as we are trying to indulge strategy in the field of education and foreign language teaching.

Considering strategy as a plan of action, we believe that any process that seeks perfection and effectiveness must rely on planning as for teaching foreign language in general, and in our situation, teaching literature in particular. We can assume strategic teaching as a well-planned plan with highly determined objective to be carried out in a well laid out time in order to attain successful or at least the intended results set for the plan of execution (Elton, 2009). For this sake, educationists attempted to introduce strategic teaching into the field of foreign language teaching (Rosenblatt, 1985; Bosma & Block, 1992; Widdowson, 1984; Robinson, 1971; Dubbin & Olshtain, 2000; McCracken, 1981; Wallace, 1990).

Thus, within strategic instruction, the teacher assigns activities with a definite objective and with a step by step plan, he encourages his learners to monitor their comprehension providing them with help and assistance when necessary.

2. Reading-Based Teaching Strategies

Recent approaches to the teaching of reading-based subjects, like literature and history, have stressed the great importance of strategies for coping with such kinds of materials. Dubbin & Olshtain (2000, 148) assert that good learners are normally, “Good readers report using a wide variety of coping strategies, from the often mentioned skimming and scanning, guessing and predicting, to using internal and external context clues to derive meaning from texts.”  Good readers, actually have the ability to use reading strategies to adjust to the text in hand in order to achieve their objectives for reading. Dubbin & Olshtain (ibid) on the other hand added, good readers use the following strategies for a successful reading: a) Keep the meaning of a passage in mind while reading and use it to predict overall meaning; b) Skip unfamiliar words and guess their meaning from later sentences; c) Identify the grammatical function of an unfamiliar word before guessing its meaning; d) Refer to any side glossary; and e) Skip words that may add relatively little to total meaning.

In essence, successful readers seem to use appropriate strategies in order to foster their reading abilities to become proficient readers. In view of the substantial number of strategies developed for successful reading, some theorists grouped them in categories then associated them according to the reader’s purposes of reading. Thus, Robinson (op. cit) devised the SQ3R; McCracken (op. cit) the USSR; and

 Wallace (op.cit) the CR: Critical Reading and recommend them to be incorporated in reading all sorts of texts according to their specificities.  Also, Jordan (op. cit) and Bosma & Block (op. cit) consider SQ3R, USSR, and CR renowned and efficient reading strategies, for either study or pleasurable reading purposes, recognised and wildly used by educationists in different teaching situations.

3. Reading Strategies and Literary Text

Generally speaking strategies are used by successful readers to study and interpret literary texts and not only for pleasure and entertainment (Wallace, op. cit). Readers have to question the way information and ideas are expressed in artistic texts as well as judge the value and worth of information they contain. Harris (1981) defines this as “the process of making judgments in reading.” Reading strategies can allow readers to evaluate what they read and then make a decision. Incorporating SQ3R in literary reading implies step by step activities to lead learners to full comprehension and evaluation of texts. This entails a close reading with different types of activities and tasks involving pre-reading stage, while-reading stage and post-reading stage. Wallace (1990) asserts that teachers need to develop step-by step activities to guide students to negotiate and question the information, content, and the ideological assumptions that the writer tries to impart.

4. Reading Strategies

Recent approaches to the teaching of reading have stressed the great importance of reading strategies for coping with texts. For many applied linguists, good readers are those who are flexible enough in using appropriate strategies. Dubbin &

 Olshtain (2000:148) asserts, “Good readers report using a wide variety of coping strategies, from the often mentioned skimming and scanning, guessing and predicting, to using internal and external context clues to derive meaning from texts”.  Good readers, thus have the ability to use reading strategies to adjust to the text in hand in order to achieve their objectives for reading. Thompson (1982) lists seven reading strategies that could lead to efficient L2 reading:

  1- Identifying text structure via a brief summary.

  2- Providing titles to texts before reading.

  3- Using embedded heading as advanced organizers.

  4- Pre-reading questions.

  5- Generating of story-specific schema: readers ask themselves questions.

  6- Use of visual imagery and illustrations.

  7- Reading a story from the perspective of different people or participants.

Dubbin & Olshtain (2000) on the other hand added good readers use the following strategies for a successful reader:

  1- Keep the meaning of a passage in mind while reading and use it to predict overall meaning.

  2- Skip unfamiliar words and guess their meaning from later sentences.

  3- Identify the grammatical function of an unfamiliar word before guessing its meaning.

  4- Refer to any side glossary.

  5- Skip words that may add relatively little to total meaning.

All in all, successful readers seem to use appropriate strategies in order to foster their reading abilities the thing which would make them proficient readers.

In view of the substantial number of strategies developed for successful reading, some theorists grouped some of them into categories and associated them according to the reader’s

 purposes of reading. Thus, Robinson (1961) devised the SQ3R: Survey, Question, Read, Recall, and Review, for intensive reading; McCraken (1971) the USSR: Uninterrupted, Sustained, Silent, Reading, for extensive reading; and Wallace (1990) the CR: Critical Reading. For all that, SQ3R, USSR, and CR come to be the most renowned and efficient reading strategies, for either study or pleasurable reading purposes, recognised and wildly used by educationists all over the world.

5. Reading Strategies and Literary Genres

Generally speaking the three strategies SQ3R, USSR, and CR are reading strategies used by successful readers for a wide range of purposes. From study and critical reading, to reading for pleasure and entertainment. They also proved to be so flexible to be used by readers reading all sorts of materials, scientific, cultural or literary.

Since literature consists generally of three major genres: prose, poetry and drama, we shall endeavour to apply the three strategies to the reading of the three literary genres.

6. SQ3R STAGY PROCEDURES

6.1. SQ3R Reading Comprehension Strategy

SQ3R is a five-step comprehension strategy developed by F.P Robinson in 1961 as Jordan (2000:17) points out, “ Several books refer to the well-tried and widely-used system of reading text books, known as SQ3R…It ensures a high degree of understanding and remembrance.”

SQ3R strategy which stands for Survey Question, Read, Recite, and Review was developed by Robinson in 1961 to provide techniques for students when studying content material. It helps students develop effective study habits by engaging in its pre-reading, during-reading, and post-reading steps. Also, it fosters reading comprehension and retention of information.

This strategy is used when the text is fairly structured and has some basic text book aids for the reading such as bold face, heading, italics, study questions, conclusions, etc. Also, when a detailed understanding of the information is required and, must be retained over long periods of time.

6.2. SQ3R Strategy Stages

- Survey

In this stage, the reader previews what he will be reading. For a book, look over the title page, table of content, introduction, summaries, and bibliography, chapters or articles, look at the headings, first introductory paragraphs, key words, photos, graphs, and exercises. In surveying a text, the reader may opt for skimming and scanning skills in order to avoid reading in detail. The major aim of this section is to get a general overview of a text or of a chapter. It stands as a warming up or first reading stage to prepare learners to the coming content-based reading stages (Cole, 2002: 01).

- Questions

Questions can be raised from one’s survey based on previous knowledge of the content of the reading text or by turning each heading into a question. This section aims at providing a purpose for reading and focussing attention on the section or text being read. It also increases the learners’ reading speed and comprehension, and hidden controversial ideas that may not be clear if reading a text without raising well-oriented questions (Cole, ibid).

- C-Read

Read one section of text book generally for the answers to the questions proposed by the heading. It also involves looking for main ideas, relationships, links and extracting meanings. It reinforces comprehension by sensory learning.

It also evaluates the appropriateness of the questions asked and their answers, in a way that the answers will make a clear idea about the whole content of the text and its value (Cole, ibid).

- Recite

Recite is to talk out loud or write out the ideas and supporting details. This implies writing in one’s own words key phrases that sum up the major points of a section and the answers of its questions.

- Review

Check that one has understood what has been read and that information on the subject is complete. Check that one can remember facts and figures, and that facts and figures are consistent with each other. Some readers combine the recite and review steps or add a re-reading step between recall and review. In all cases, it seems that the SQ3R’s stages are flexible and overlapped.

7. Technical Design of Q3R Strategy

Below is a technical design for SQ3R adapted from Robinson (1971) and Jordan (2000). The design consists of three basic stages: pre-reading (Diagram 1), while-reading (Diagram 2)  and after-reading activities ( Diagram 3).These stages are also divided into sub-stages. Pre-reading consists of surveying the text and raising questions. While reading consists of reading, and answering questions for reinforcing comprehension. After-reading stage comprises reciting the central ideas and collecting essential notes of the text, and reviewing the whole elements gathered from the previous stages.


 Before reading stage is dedicated to survey the material in order to find hints about and around the text and raising some question to help the reader establish a clear objective about the utility of the reading

 

                            Diagram 2: While-Reading Stage

While reading stage is devoted to scan the material annotating ideas, underlining key words, extracting meanings from figures of speech, and then trying to answer questions raised in pre-reading stage

                                Diagram 3: After-reading Stage

After reading stage consists of two parts, reciting and reviewing. In reciting, the reader is supposed to reread his key notes written in his own words trying to recite them using any appropriate method, like associating some ideas to names, dates, or events. In reviewing, the reader is expected to write reports, summaries or predict questions that still concern him about the reading text. He may also list all topics and themes presented in text in order in extend them to real life events or to relate them to the whole setting of the events of the whole work.

As presented above, SQ3R reading strategy is built around the idea that what you do before and after you read is as important as the reading itself.

Survey a text aims at getting an overview of the text content, questions provide a purpose for reading and focus attention on specific points, recite is to evaluate the answers and to increase memory, review allows to check comprehension and gives an overview of the entire chapter (text). Reading, therefore, becomes a thinking process through which the reader tries to extract meanings from text and answer questions raised before reading.

8. Critical Reading Strategy Procedures

Readers usually treat texts with great reverence and acceptance, since they think that published materials are objective and true. This view however can not be applied to literary texts. Reading literary materials actually implies critical reading. Readers have to question and judge the value and worth of information a text contains as well as the way information and ideas are expressed.

Harris (1981) defines critical reading as the process of making judgments in reading.

In critical reading, readers should read a text to evaluate what they read and then make a decision. Evaluation of a text implies to accept what has been presented in the text, to disagree with it or to assert that additional information is necessary to make a definite decision.

On the whole, the purpose of critical reading is to get the students involved in a dialogue with the ideas in a text. This entails a close reading with the attention to evaluate, draw inferences, and arrive at conclusions based or arguments and evidence. Many theorists however, assume that critical reading exhibits a great challenge to low level and beginner students. Thus, they recommend that it would be useful with to high level advanced or literary-minded students.

Different types of activities and tasks have been designed for developing critical reading strategies. This involves pre-reading stage, while-reading stage and post-reading stage. Wallace (1990) asserts that teachers need to develop step-by step activities to guide students to negotiate and question the information content and the ideological assumptions that the writer tries to impart.

8.1. Pre-reading Stage

In pre-reading stage students are required to provide answers to questions that are not text-based but around text-based. Their questions can be modelled by teachers or students themselves, since self-generated questions make the students more involved and responsible. The following could be very helpful.

- What are the topic /title of the text? What does it suggest?

- What is the purpose for writing the text?

- How is the topic written? Formal or informal style?

- What is the genre of the text?

- Who is the writer?

Students are asked at this stage to scan any notes or information that might precede the text or at the end of the text. This includes, the author’s life and achievements, the occasion of writing the text, the intended audience, any graphic illustrations, folds and italics, gist information from the opening paragraphs.

The answers to the questions above serve to gather background information about the context in which a text was written and about the writer to help students understand the text’s social, political, historical and cultural context.

8.2. While-Reading Stage

At this stage, students are expected to read and to react to content and language of the text through two major techniques: 1) annotating and 2) analysing.

Annotating is essential to critical reading since it centers the readers’ attention on content and language. In annotating students need to use three ways, underlining, questioning and outlining.

1 - Annotating:

a- Underlining:

-Students are asked to construct meaning of the underlined words from context.

-Students can use a dictionary or encyclopedia to help them restrict the meanings.

b- Questioning:

 -Students are asked to read a passage and express their doubts in the from of questions on the margin.

- Questions should reflect the students’ lack of knowledge, confusion or comments.

- Questions could be asked about the use of certain words, expressions, figures, images, informal words, archaic words, etc.

c- Outlining:

-Outlining helps the students to figure out the chief ideas   of a text and allowing   them  separating what is central from what is peripheral.

- Students are asked to identify the main ideas in each paragraph, stanza, or extract.

- Students go through the passage to find out main ideas and arguments considering connectors  such as a result, consequently, colon, etc.

2- Analysing:

When students figure out the thrust of the writer’s arguments from outlining, they then  analyse 1) arguments and 2) language.

a- Arguments:

An argument is a group of statements that have a special relationship to one another.

One statement is asserted as true on the basis of the other statements considering

reason, evidence or assumptions.  Here are some basic questions to deal with  arguments.

-What point(s) is the writer attempting to establish?

-What has been asserted as true?

-Why should I accept this claim as true?

- On what basis should I accept this claim?

- What reasons or evidence does the writer give for this claim?

The purpose of analysing arguments is to be able to distinguish fact from opinion: thus, students have to question and helped by check list of questions, everything that does not make sense to him/ her and then discount arguments based on faulty reasoning.

b- Language:

Analysis of language involves looking for patterns of repetitions, the use of specific words and phrases (diction), the use of connotations, and figurative language.

- Looking for repetitions or patterns of recurring images

- Repeated descriptions, repeated words and phrases, examples and illustrations.

- The use of pronouns to represent characters and the reasons for their selection.

- The kind of verbs used: action verbs, mental process verbs…

- Why the writer uses certain nouns, verbs, modal verbs, sayings, proverbs and the purpose they serve and the meaning they convey.

- The use of negative, affirmative, imperative and interrogative and the functions or purposes they serve in the text.

- The use of connectors to convey the writer’s ideas and position or reasoning.

- The use of figurative language and imagery, symbolism and the purposes they convey.

- Evaluation and comments on all the mentioned uses to realise whether they are used appropriately to serve the writer’s topic, themes, morals and ideological beliefs and convictions.

8.3. Post-reading Stage

At the post-reading stage the reader is expected to extend the understanding obtained from the text at the pre-reading and while-reading into writing tasks. This implies summarising, evaluating, synthesizing, commenting and reflecting.

- Students summarize what has been developed through their reading.

- Students give their judgements based on their analysis and understanding of the text.

- Students comment on the message and language of the  text.

- Based on reasoning, arguments and conclusion students produce an essay in which they explain the writer’s ideological, cultural, or social strengths and weakness, the way language and diction are used to convey the message.

On the whole, the overall objective of critical reading is developing critical reading awareness in learners by questioning and thinking through  a text and extending this awareness and understanding into writing activities.

9. Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (USSR) Strategy Procedures

USSR is a very common reading strategy. It is a time set aside and devoted solely to the activity of reading. Everyone reads including the teacher and in some situations even the administrators. Some theorists call it Sustained Silent Reading or SSR for short; others call it Daily Independent Reading Time or DIRT, or Drop Every Thing and Read DEAR. Whatever it is labeled, USSR is a devoted period of time usually anywhere in the school from ten to thirty minutes for quiet continuous reading, Seow (1999 et al), McCracken (1971), Hopkins (2003).

10. USSR and Extensive Reading(ER)

Some theorists however, and mostly teachers still confuse between ER and USSR. Seow (1999) affirms that ER is reading for an extended period of time which may last more than one hour, yet, USSR lasts just a short period of time very often 20 to 30 minutes. In ER, students read from a wide selection of reading material in the classroom or in library, in

 USSR students read just short articles, or extracts which interests them. Moreover, in ER programmes, reading material mainly extended novels and plays may be completed overtime. In USSR, any material read is to be completed within the time given for the session. Furthermore, in ER, no skills training necessary, but just some follow-up reading activities may be conducted periodically in the classroom. In USSR, on the other hand, basic skills training should be included. But, no formal assessment has to be incorporated for both strategies.

11. Purposes of USSR

According to Seow (ibid) USSR is best used as a prelude to ER, when students have formed the habit of sustained silent Reading, they would then be ready for independent extensive reading Program. Hopkins (op.cit), Anderson (op.cit), Seow (op.cit) and Gambrell (op.cit) set the following major purposes for USSR.

- To help students familiarize themselves with the reading process itself and literary genres

- To help students continually acquire new vocabulary as then read.

- To increase student’s desire to read on their own during their free time and developing good reading habits for extensive reading.

- To develop in students life-long confidence and love of reading.

12. USSR Class Session

    a- The teacher

- Set up a classroom library.

- Know the reading level of students for appropriate work selection.

- Teach “book-selecting” strategies to students.

- Set up expectations and outcome for USSR time.

    b-The student:

- Listen to and concentrate on their teacher’s instructions and orientation.

- Select for themselves the right books considering their level and interest and

not imitating other students.

13. USSR Stages

     a- Before-reading stage

The teacher asks students to guess what the passage will be about just by looking at the

title.

     b- While- reading Stage

- Students read silently and continually.

- Students must read for the entire allotted reading period.

- Students preferably read books that tell a story, rather than factual books in order to grow a 

love for good stories.

- Students should not talk with each other.

    c- Post-Reading Stage

The teacher may ask the students the following questions

- In one sentence, or briefly, say what the passage is about?

- Why did the author write this passage?

- What’s the author’s feeling towards the topic?

- Is the author’s point of view objective, subjective or neutral?

- Is the author, amusing, critical, sarcastic humorous in his treatment of the subject matter?

The teacher has to encourage the students to answer these questions, but he need not force them to do so. He continues only when students show interest in giving impressions about the text. The teacher also has to encourage students to relate the reading text to their personal experiences through holding panels for discussing ideas, opinions and experiences related to the text. The success of USSR, actually, is greatly dependent on the teacher. Teachers’ enthusiasm or lack of interest in reading could easily be communicated to students. Creating a quiet relaxing and no evaluative classroom environment is also an essential element for successful USSR.

Conclusion         

The term strategy came into usage just in the early 1980’s. Before this date, most theorists in the field used the term skill or skill teaching. Bosma et al (1992) affirms that the difference between strategy and skill lies in control factor. This means that in skill instruction, the teacher exercises an immense control over learners. Yet, strategy instruction implies an active learner with a showing-how teacher. Thus, within strategic instruction, the teacher encourages students to monitor their comprehension and provides them with the necessary help to make use of the internalized reading skills in order to process and comprehend what they read.

 Since literary texts exhibit a somewhat considerable length and in most times challenging and hard syntactic and semantic elements, reading strategies that imply before, during and after reading activities seem to be so much efficient tools for helping learners comprehend and engage in literary material.

Most of researchers in the area assert that reading strategies such as Survey Question Read Recite Review (SQ3R), Critical Reading (CR) and Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (USSR) if used consistently and appropriately

 will help learners acquire life-long independent reading habits both for study or pleasure. Moreover, they will foster the learners’ reading abilities as well as responses whenever confronted with considerably lengthy and challenging texts particularly literary ones.

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