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II. The English teaching and learning situations at Ham Rong high school

II. The English teaching and learning situations at Ham Rong high school

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schools in Vietnam. As time goes by, a lot of achievements in teaching reading

comprehension can be clearly seen. It is true that quality of teaching and learning

reading comprehension in most secondary schools has been improved remarkably

in terms of the teachers’ methods and the learners’ attitudes. However, there are

still some problems facing the reading teachers a well as the pupils.

In order to fulfill this study, two survey questionnaires were conducted to


the 11 form pupils and eight teachers of English, especially those who are

teaching English to the 11th form students at Ham Rong high school to get more

details of the reality of teaching and learning reading comprehension at whilereading stage. This section deals with main points: Objects of the study,

objectives of the study, methods of study.

2. Settings of the study

The main objects of this study are:

- One hundred 11th form secondary students at Ham Rong high

school, most of them have been learning English for nearly six years.

- Eight teachers of English at Ham Rong high school, especially

those who are teaching English to the 11th form students.

III. Research methodology

1. Subjects

The questionnaire was designed for 100 students of grade 11 from 4 classes

(11B3, 11B6, 11B8, 11B9) at Ham Rong High School to get information to fulfill

the aims of the study. These students were randomly selected to answer the

questionnaire. The questionnaire for 100 grade 11 students tends to survey on the

students’ experience and their interest in using the activities in a Reading lesson

by answering “Yes” or “No”. More importantly, the questionnaire will discover

the problems the students have coped with when they learn reading skill and their

own suggestions for better reading learning and teaching.

2. Survey Instruments

2.1. Questionnaire for the students

The questionnaire for students includes 14 questions. It took one month to

deliver and collect 100 copies of the questionnaire.

The questionnaire is about whether they like using Role play, Repetition,

Structure – based Activities, Question and Answer Exchanges, Discussing in

pairs or groups, Picture description, Problem solving, Topic – based Discussion,

Free-talks, Completing the Dialogues, Ordering – Rearrangement, Interview,

Games/Songs or Information gap.

Table 1: Questions




What do you think about the importance of reading













A. Very important B. Important as other language skills

C. Less important than other language skill

D. Not important at all

What do you think about the importance of

developing reading comprehension skills?

A. Very important

B. Important

C. Not very important D. No important at all

What do you think about reading texts in English 11


A. Interesting

C. Suitable to student’ level

B. Boring

D. Not suitable to students’ level

What are the students’ purposes in reading?

A.To entertain themselves

B.To reinforce vocabulary and grammatical structures

C.To improve language skills

D.To improve background knowledge

E. All of the above

What are the students’ difficulties in reading?

A.Lack of vocabulary

B.Lack of grammatical

C.Lack of background knowledge

D.Lack of reading skills

What do the students do to overcome difficulties?

A.Wait for the ring answer when the teachers correct

B.Ask the teachers for help

C. Discuss with friends to find out the right answer

What are the students’ ways of reading texts

A.Focus on every word for detailed understanding

B.Read quickly for general understanding first and then

focus on other specific information and new words

Do you use the extra reading exercises in reading

classes? A. Yes

B. No

Do you give students timeg reading exercises

A. Yes

B. No

Do you think classroom organization in the whilereading stage important?

A. Yes

B. No


2.2. Presentation of statistical results

The 100 copies of the questionnaire delivered to the students and teachers

have been responded. The data are analyzed in this part of the study in the

following table which shows sequences of the responses for the questions

available in the questionnaire.

In general, the survey of both teachers and students gives findings about their

attitudes to teaching and learning reading texts and their working methods. From

the above data analysis, it can be stated that both teachers and students have

positive attitudes to teaching and developing reading skill. Teachers have been

using different activities and exercises in the while- reading stage, but they are

not appropriate and effective enough. The teachers, in fact still apply traditional

strategies in teaching reading. Most of them focus on presenting new words and

grammatical structures rather than instruct their students to use some useful

techniques such as skimming and scanning, etc. They have not made use of pair

work and group work in the process of teaching reading. That is why their

reading lessons could not be effective. Students consequently cannot develop

their reading skills. It is the reason why the teacher of English should think of

more useful techniques that can work to get the best result of a reading lesson

Table 2:



Responds (%)


A. Students : 35% ;Teachers :25% B. Students: 62% ;Teachers: 75%

C. Students : 7 % ;Teachers: 3% D. Students: 5% ;Teachers: 1%


A. Students : 32%;Teachers :27% B. Students: 62% ;Teachers: 75%

C. Students : 7 % ;Teachers: 1% D. Students: 3% ;Teachers: 1%


A. Students : 55% ;Teachers :60% B. Students: 10% ; Teachers: 5%

C. Students : 20 %;Teachers: 25% D. Students: 15% ;Teachers:10%


A. Students : 5%

B. Students: 30%

C. Students : 20 % D. Students: 10% E .Students: 70%


A. Students : 72%;Teachers :70% B. Students: 25% ;Teachers: 20%

C. Students : 15 % ;Teachers:10% D. Students: 30%;Teachers: 10%


A. Students : 55%

B. Students: 25% C. Students : 25 %


A. Students : 65%;Teachers :30% B. Students: 40% ;Teachers :70%


A. Students : 80%;Teachers :90% B. Students: 20%;Teachers :15%


A. Students : 80%;Teachers :92% B. Students: 20%;Teachers :10%


A. Students : 70%;Teachers :85% B. Students: 30%;Teachers :20%

Table 2: The frequency of using while- reading activities and exercises


While- reading


Questions and


T/F exercises

Multiple choice


Finding the topic




Blank filling








paragraph topics




Students Teacher



Students’ Teachers



’ choice


’ choice






































































The frequency of using activities and exercises in the while- reading

stage is also investigated. There are three levels (often, sometimes and never) for

ten kinds of exercises. From the data, teachers and students roughly have the

same opinion about the frequency of using these exercises. Teachers apparently

often used some common type of exercises in their reading lessons: Questions

and answers, True/False questions and Multiple- choice questions. Using only

such common kinds of exercises frequently may make students feel bored. It is

advisable to use some other ones for a change such as Finding topic sentences,

Finding synonyms and antonyms or Finding equivalents, which are rarely

conducted in the reading class.



As mentioned above, the while- reading stage is regarded as the main part


of a reading lesson. This stage often occupies most of the time in class, and

accounts largely for the improvement of students’ reading comprehension skill.

The students must be active and do practice as much as possible. To help students

understand reading texts and at the same time develop their reading skill, the

teacher must play a role as a guiding person. He should give his students clear

purposes while reading (for example, reading for general ideas, reading for

specific information, and reading for further understanding) with clear

instructions for various kinds of activities according to each purpose.

Based on the nature of reading and teaching reading in addition to what is

found from the survey, some useful techniques are suggested to help students to

read better at the while- reading stage. All the example suggested question types

are based on reading texts in “English” textbook.

1. Questions and answers

After teaching new vocabulary or introducing the text, etc. the teacher asks

his students to read the text silently for the first time. This activity enables them

to gain the global understanding of the text, identify main ideas before going into

the details of the text.

For example, in Unit 4: “Volunteer work ” (English 11: page 46), the

students may be asked to answer the questions after skimming the text:

1. What is the main idea of this passage?

2. What do young volunteers work in the homes of sick or old people?

3. Is there a voluntary organization called Big Brothers?

For instance, in the text “Friendship” (English 11: page 13, the students

may be asked to answer the question:

Which of the choices A, B, C or D most adequately sums up the ideas of

the whole passage?

A. A friend in need is a friend indeed B. Conditions of true friendship.

C. Features of a good friend.

D. Friends and acquaintances.

When doing the multiple choices exercises, the students need to understand

the stem of the item as well as the options. It is necessary to help the students

immediately when they have problems with the question stems.

2. True/ False questions

True/ False questions may be used to draw the students’ attention to the

main ideas of the text. The students are given a list of statements about the text

and they must decide whether they are true or false according to what they read.

There are several possibilities of this kind of questions.

For example, in the text “Celebrations” (English 11: 90), the students have

to decide if the following statements are T, F or NG according to the text.

Decide whether the statements are true (T), (F) or (NG)


1. Tet is always on 20th February on the Western calendar.

2. According to the text, for people anywhere in the world the beginning of spring

is the start of a new year.

3. Tet used to be longer than it is nowadays.

4. According to the text, “lucky money” is given to everyone at Tet.

5. Kimquat trees are popular both in the North and in the South of Vietnam.

6. People try to be nice and polite to each other because they want to have good

luck on New Year’s Day.

When asking the students to answer the multiple choice questions and the

True/ False questions, the teacher needs to be aware that the students can guess

the answer rather than base on the text. To exploit the text efficiently, it is

plausible to ask the students to discuss their answers in pairs or in groups, and

give reasons for their choice.

3. Multiple choice questions

This is one of the most common types of exercises used in reading

comprehension. It can be used to focus on the whole text and enables students to

understand the text by giving them clues. His kind of questions certainly contains

a statement and a set of possible answers. Students’ task is to select the best one

form the answers depending on the text.

For instance, in the text “Friendship” (English 11: 13, the students may be

asked to answer the question:

Which of the choices A, B, C or D most adequately sums up the ideas of

the whole passage?

A. A friend in need is a friend indeed

B. Conditions of true friendship.

C. Features of a good friend.

D. Friends and acquaintances.

When doing the multiple choices exercises, the students need to understand

the stem of the item as well as the options. It is necessary to help the students

immediately when they have problems with the question stems.

4. Finding topic sentences

One of the useful activities which helps students understand the main

points of the text is finding the topic sentence for each paragraph in the text. That

key sentence is often at the beginning of each paragraph. The students can look

for it to get the idea of what follows.

For example, for the text “Hobbies” (English 11: 146), the teacher may ask

his students to skim the text and underline the topic sentence in each paragraph.

Paragraph 2: The hobby I like most is playing my guitar. My uncle, who is

an accomplished guitarist, taught me how to play. Now I can play a few simple

tunes. I have even begun to sing while playing the guitar, but I have not been very

successful at this. My uncle tells me that all I need is to practise regularly and I


should be able to do it. He is very good at accompanying people singing with his

guitar and I admire him very much.

Paragraph 3: Another hobby of mine is keeping fish. I have a modest little

glass fish tank where I keep a variety of little fish. Some of them were bought from

the shop while some others were collected from the rice field near my house. They

look so beautiful swimming about in the tank. I love watching them and my

mother loves watching them, too.

5. Finding equivalents

In these types of exercise, the teacher may ask his students to find the

equivalents for the reference used in the whole text or a short paragraph of the text.

For instance, in order to get a detailed understanding of the 1 st and the 2nd

paragraph in the text “The wonders of the world” (English 11: 178), the students

may be asked to find the equivalent for reference.

“The Great Pyramid of Giza was built by the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu

around the year 1560 B.C. The purpose of this huge stone pyramid was to serve

as a tomb when he died and to protect the burial chamber from the weather and

from thieves who might try to steal the treasures and belongings here. The Great

Pyramid is believed to have been built over a 20- year period. First, the site was

prepared and then the huge blocks of stone were transported and put in their


When it was built, the Great Pyramid was 147 meters high on a base of

230 meters square. It ranked as the tallest structure on earth for more than 43

centuries, only to be surpassed in height in the nineteenth century A.D. The

structure consisted of approximately 2 million blocks of stone, each weighing

about 2.5 tons.”

1. he............. 2. who ............. 3. it............. 4. it ............. 5. each.............

6. Blank- filling

The teacher uses this kind of activity to focus his students on specific

information in the text. The students have to use information in the text to fill in

the provided blanks by inserting a single word or a group of words.

Filling in the blank is generally used in the section of scanning for detail in

the textbook English 11. For example, in “Sources of energy” (English 11: 124)









We need energy to live and work. Our major source of (1)........ is oil. Oil is

(2)........ kind of fossil fuel. The amount of fossil (3)........ in the world is (4)........

Therefore, we must save it, and at the same time, we must find new sources of

energy. Geothermal heat and nuclear power are (5)........ sources of energy. They

can give us electricity. Other alternative (6)........ are the sun, waves and water.


These sources are not only (7)........ and available but also clean and safe for the

(8)........ People should develop and use them more and more in the future.

7. Reordering information or events

This type of activity can be most commonly used with the text organized in

chronological sequence.

For example, with the text “Celebrations” (English 11: 90), it is useful to

ask the students to put the following things in the right order.

1. Homes are often decorated with plants and flowers.

2. Many people go to the pagoda to pray for a happy year for themselves and

their family.

3. Tet marks the beginning of spring and, for a agrarian people, the start of a new


4. Streets are decorated with colored lights and red banners.

8. Completing tables and diagrams

Completing tables and diagrams is often used for texts with the ideas

organized in numeration or in comparison and contrast.

For instance, the students have to complete the diagram after reading the

text “Nature in danger” (English 11: 114)

Human beings have a great influence on the world







As a result..........

9. Matching heading

In this activity, the students are provided with a list of headings which is

the summary of each paragraph in the text. Their task is to glance quickly at the

entire paragraph and match the suitable heading for each. If they can find out the

right title for each paragraph, they may understand efficiently all the main points

conveyed in the text.

For example, for the text “Space conquest” (English 11: 166), ask the

students to read the text and match the headings for paragraphs.

Paragraph 1

A. The tragic accident

Paragraph 2

B. The lift- off


Paragraph 3

C. Congratulations

Paragraph 4

D. A view on Earth

Paragraph 5

E. Uncertainties

In itself, this is not entirely an exercise in skimming because the students

sometimes need to read some paragraphs carefully to choose an appropriate

heading. However, the students should be encouraged to do it as quickly as

possible to see how quickly they understand the gist of the text. To avoid the

obviousness of the final item, it would be better if the teacher give more headings

than needed. The students, as a result, will read more carefully to find out the

correct title for the last paragraph.

10. Finding paragraph topics

Finding paragraph topics is more difficult than the previous activities.

Instead of finding the topic sentences and underlining them or looking at a list of

headings and matching to suitable paragraphs, the students have to read the whole

paragraph and figure out the topic revealed in each.

For instance, in the text “Nature in danger” (English 11: 115), the teacher

may ask students to skim over the text and write down a phrase that expresses the

topic of each paragraph. Paragraph 1 was done as an example.

Paragraph 1:.......................................

Paragraph 2:.......................................

Paragraph 3:.......................................

Paragraph 4:.......................................

To sum up, there have been a number of activities in the while- reading

stage presented in this chapter. In an attempt to develop different sub- reading

skills such as skimming or scanning, the teacher should direct his students to

some certain techniques. In the process of teaching reading, it is necessary to take

notice of some points. There are no fixed reading techniques. A technique can be

used separately or integrated with others. More importantly, because teaching is a

creative and artistic process, the teacher must be flexible when using different

activities in the while- reading stage for a particular text. Depending on teaching

and learning conditions, the reading text and the students’ level is effective to

choose the most suitable and effective techniques to help students develop their

reading skills. The teacher may ask his students to complete every reading task in

a limited period of time since it will force them to try more, accordingly help

them build up and develop their reading skills. What is more, a reading lesson

would be better if the teacher asks his students to discuss their answers and

opinions in pairs or groups eliciting their responses. Reading in this way actually

makes them feel more relaxed in while they read and helps them read more




I. Results obtained

The study has presented some useful techniques accompanied by a number

of activities to develop certain reading skills for students in the while- reading

stage, i.e. reading for general understanding, for specific information and for

further understanding. Students can skim for the gist, and then scan to locate for

specific information or read more for further understanding. For each technique,

the teachers may ask students to find topic sentences when skimming, complete

tables while scanning or guess meaning of unfamiliar words in context for further

understanding. All these techniques and activities are suggested basing on the

theory of reading and teaching reading comprehension. It is also based on the

present situation of teaching and learning reading in the secondary schools at

Ham Rong high school, especially in the while- reading stage. The actual

teaching and learning status was clarified through the two survey questionnaires

and some class observations at Ham Rong high school. The statistics indicate that

both students and teachers have positive attitudes toward teaching and learning

reading, but in the while- reading activities the teachers should apply more

techniques in their reading lessons to develop the reading skills.

There are actually a lot of activities in the while- reading stage but teachers

must be flexible in using them. They should depend on the reading texts, their

students’ level or the learning condition to provide their students with suitable

and useful activities to exploit the text efficiently and develop their effective

reading skills.

In conclusion, from what have been presented, the study is hoped to be

useful and referred to by secondary school teachers for the while- reading

activities in their reading lessons.

II. Suggestion for further study

Due to the shortage of time and the lack of practical experience, all the

issues of the teaching process cannot be covered as a whole. It is expected that

the further studies will be the continuance for this one, which suggest techniques

to the remained stages, the pre- reading and the post- reading stage. The quality

of teaching and learning reading in English as a result can be step by step


improved. Furthermore, mistakes are also inevitable in the study because of the

limitation of time, references and ability. Comments and recommendations would

be highly appreciated to better the study both in content and in the form.


Thanh Hóa, ngày 19 tháng 3 năm 2016


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