A LETTER TO THE TEACHERS OF ENGLISH: 23Let your students read forcommunication also [Archives:2003/662/Education]

August 25 2003

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

Dear Fellow teachers,
This is yet another letter on reading. Don't get tired of it, will you? All of us aim at developing reading skills in our learners for understanding whatever they read. That is the main objective of reading and this objective can be achieved if our students have enough practice in silent reading in the classes. In addition to reading for understanding, you can train your students in reading for communication also, which is nothing but making use of the information they get from what they read. In fact, this should be the goal of any reading. After all, why do we read? To get information. Why do we need information? For doing something. We read an announcement in a newspaper about an exhibition of books, and we visit the exhibition; we read a notice on the school or college notice board about a meeting and we attend it; we read the examination timetable on the notice board and we get ready for the examinations. In other words, we not only read for comprehension (= understanding), but also for communication. If we do not make use of the information we get from the materials we read, there is no purpose for our reading at all.
How do we develop the skill of reading for communication? It is not very difficult and is an extension of the silent reading activity. I had said in my earlier letter that every silent reading activity should be necessarily followed by checking the students' understanding; this can be done through questions on the text they have read or asking for the meaning of some words in the text, or asking them to summarize in Arabic what they have read. In addition to this, if you design an activity in which they make use of whatever they have read, it becomes an activity for reading for communication. For example, imagine that your students are asked to read a text containing information about the interesting places to visit in Taiz. One of the activities you can design for your students to do after the silent reading is “Write a letter to your friend inviting him/her to Taiz for a holiday. Tell him/her the interesting places he/she can visit there.” Or imagine that they read the examination timetable for the whole school; the communication activity can be “Prepare the timetable for your class or for your friend who is in another class”.
Reading for communication is a necessary extension of reading for comprehension. This can be better done with extra reading materials that are collected from other sources such as newspaper cuttings, advertisements, announcements, notices, timetables, maps of the countries etc. than with the texts in the Pupil's Books.
Reading for communication is an essential activity in higher classes, because this is closer to real life reading and will prepare your students for reading on their own in college classes. Do let your students read for communication also. Good luck.
Yours fraternally,
Dr. M.N.K. Bose