A LETTER TO THE TEACHERS OF ENGLISH: 22Spend more time for reading [Archives:2003/660/Education]

August 18 2003

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear Fellow teachers,
If you remember, this is my third letter in a series about reading. No one can deny that reading is an important language skill, perhaps the most important one in an EFL setting like yours. The reason is obvious: You need to read English more often in your lives, as a student, as a teacher, as businessman, as a manager in a company, as a worker in a firm, as a passenger on a plane, as a pilot, as an airhostess, as a taxi driver, as a doctor, as a nurse and as a pharmacist; in other words, the need for reading English in this country is greater than that for other language skills. Next to reading, it is writing, which is of greater need. Speaking and listening skills come next in the order of priority. Don't be surprised, I am talking about the needs of an ordinary citizen in this country. I am not denying that speaking and listening are important for those who go abroad for higher studies, who become teachers, news readers, announcers, air hostesses and the like. But the opportunity to become any one of the above is rare (except teachers, of course!) and the number of people getting such jobs from among our students may be small. So, the majority of our students need reading and writing more than speaking and listening. That is why I suggest that you spend more time for reading and writing in the English classes.
I have suggested the steps to be followed while teaching reading in the preparatory and secondary schools in my book 'A textbook of ELT for Yemeni students'. The most important things you should keep in mind are the following: (i) your reading (oral reading) should be a good model for your students to follow. This is possible only when you have regular practice of reading aloud and constant use of a good dictionary for pronunciation. (ii) You should give enough opportunity to your students to read aloud, especially in the preparatory classes; more importantly you should listen to the student when he/she reads aloud and check his/her pronunciation when necessary. As I pointed out in my early letter, if you use oral reading by the students for filling up the class time, there is hardly any benefit out of it. Students can read in chorus (all the students together) to begin with, (but be careful, chorus reading should be limited to a short time in each class and with words and sentences and not longer texts), as chorus reading enables the shy students to give up their shyness and become bold to face the class. This can be followed by individuals reading; always start with students who are better than others but the weak ones should not be neglected. Friendly coaxing and tolerance to errors will bring all the students around.
In addition to the lessons in the books, you can occasionally use some materials such as a comic, a joke, an interesting news item, an advertisement or announcement for reading in the class. In higher classes, these can be used for silent reading by the students to develop their understanding. Is there anything more interesting to your students than the announcement of a football match in the city or a news item about the victory of the Yemeni team in an international match? Try to use such materials now and then; your students will look forward to you English classes. Good luck.
Yours fraternally,