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Comprehension Strategy Training

Comprehension Strategy Training

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Published by elise
This is a formal paper presented in graduate school that summarizes the case study about a nine year-old child who was having reading comprehension diffulties in the target market
This is a formal paper presented in graduate school that summarizes the case study about a nine year-old child who was having reading comprehension diffulties in the target market

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Published by: elise on Dec 27, 2008
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01/11/2013

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COMPREHENSION STRATEGY TRAINING: IMPROVING THE L2 READINGCOMPREHENSION SKILLS OF A LOW PROFICIENCY L2 LEARNERTHROUGH A PURPOSEFUL SCHEMA-BUILDING READING REMEDIATIONPROGRAM
The Philippines used to be referred to as “the second English speakingcountry in the world”, and Filipinos lived up to the distinction. Sad to say, butsuch is no longer the case. Filipinos are now generally incompetent users of theEnglish language and many expert educators put the blame on the bilingualsystem of education that was put in place about three decades back.Recognizing the lamentable state of the present educational systemglaringly evident not only in the students’ but more alarmingly so in the teachers’lack of proficiency in the English language, the present government instituted animmediate shift back to the use of English as the medium of instruction. This isindeed a significant step but definitely not a wholesale solution to the problem.The 30 years of bilingual education has created a situation wherein the teachersneed to be equipped with English as a Second Language pedagogy.One such product of the bilingual system is then nine-year-oldKatherine “Kae” Fronda, the participant chosen by this writer for a case study in agraduate school course. The class was Case Studies in Reading and the projectinvolved designing and implementing a 20-hour remediation program for anelementary student diagnosed with a reading problem. The case study wasassigned not for research purposes but rather to give the graduate schoolstudent, now taking the role of a case worker, a chance to put into practical use,the principles of reading remediation.The child turned out to be a proficient reader both in decoding andcomprehension in the first language but was having difficulty understandingEnglish language texts. Her low proficiency in the second language or L2accounted for this reading deficiency. This then led to the question of whether this was a reading problem or a language problem.Alderson (as cited in Taillefer, 1996) saw L2 reading as being both but withfirmer evidence of it being a language problem for people with low levels of foreign language competence. This supported Clarke’s (p. 461) view thatlanguage proficiency determines reading ability in the second language. Heformulated this assumption into what is now popularly known as the Short CircuitHypothesis. Although it appears that the most logical solution to the problem of L2 reading is a language-based one, further research on the subject by Hudson(as cited in Barnett, 1989) concluded that induced schemata (vocabulary words,pictures) can override the effect of the second language threshold oncomprehension (p. 55).Other studies conducted on the use of schema likewise proved that a highdegree of background knowledge can overcome linguistic deficiencies (Grabe,1991). In other words, there is a reading-based approach in dealing with theproblem of reading comprehension in the L2 caused by low proficiency. Second
 
language pedagogy has developed comprehension strategies that focus on theuse of the reader’s own background or prior knowledge known as schema, rather than on linguistic knowledge.In place of research questions, the case worker made decisionsregarding choice of teaching approach, materials, activities and assessmentprocedures. Guided by the knowledge gleaned from a review of current readingresearch, the case worker put together a reading remediation program centeredon comprehension strategy use which was then adapted to fit within the basicframework provided for the assignment. Taking into consideration Alderson’searly point regarding the language issue, English language lessons were alsoincorporated in the design.The case worker put together a remediation program that was meant tohelp the student manage her L2 handicap, through strategic reading techniquesthat would allow her to read and understand L2 texts. The goal was to enablethe student to demonstrate successful use of the techniques and at the sametime evaluate the remediation program itself in order for other case workers tobetter design programs of a similar kind. The student’s success in this casestudy would certainly be an encouragement to other Filipino children strugglingwith the same language/reading dilemmaThe Research ProblemPresenting the case study project in the form of a formal researchpaper, the case worker translated the design-related concerns into the followingquestions:General:Does strategy training improve the L2 reading comprehension of low language proficiency readers?Specific:1.How will the program affect the student’s use of strategies whenreading texts in the L2?2.How will the different aspects of the program contribute to the student’slearning of L2 reading comprehension strategies?3.What non-linguistic factors affect the learning of readingcomprehension strategies of the student in the study?Theoretical FrameworkIn 1979 Clarke introduced the Short-Circuit Hypothesis which attributesreading comprehension problems in the second language (or L2) to the lack of proficiency in the same language. According to him “limited control over thelanguage ‘short circuits’ the good reader’s system, causing him to revert to poor 
 
reader strategies when confronted with a difficult or confusing task in the secondlanguage” (as cited in Barnett, 1989, p. 54).Further research into the same area by Hudson in 1982 (p. 55) came upwith the finding that induced schemata or the use of pictures and vocabularypertaining to the text topic, can override the effect of L2 proficiency oncomprehension. His findings show that such readers can improve their comprehension through schema activation. Furthermore, Hudson determinedthat linguistic knowledge was just one determinant of reading comprehension.He concluded that the use of schema as an aid to comprehension is moreconsistent among advanced readers and that choice of strategy changes acrosslevels of reading and language proficiency.Hudson’s study gives credence to the Schema Theory developed byAnderson that emphasizes the paramount role that schema plays in readingcomprehension (McCormick, 1995). Schemata refers to a reader’s knowledge of the world and his existing concepts of it. The theory assumes that a text doesnot itself carry meaning, but readers can put meaning into it by setting it in thecontext of their own knowledge, according to Clark and Silberstein, (as cited inBrown, 1994) “by assigning it membership to an appropriate group of conceptsalready stored in their memories (p. 284). Thus the meaning-making processinvolves the active participation of the reader who harnesses the information,knowledge, emotion, experience and culture already in his memory to makesense of the text he is reading. Arieta (2001) identifies the three types of schemata that reading teachers emphasize and these are:(1)knowledge of the concepts and processes that pertain tosubject matter, i.e. science, math, humanities, etc.(2)general world knowledge, i.e. social relationships, causes andeffects(3)knowledge of rhetorical structures, i.e. patterns, rules, structuresfor organizing text and cues to the reader This concept of schema is particularly important for second languagereaders who must use other means to compensate for their limited linguisticlanguage of the L2. The diagnosed reading problem of the student in the presentstudy was her poor comprehension of English language or L2 texts. Using theidea of “induced schema” as proposed by Hudson, the case worker designed aprogram to purposely establish a schema for reading second language texts thatthe student could draw from when reading L2 materials. In other words, the“induced schemata” in this case was the procedural knowledge involved instrategic that falls under the first classification -- the knowledge of concepts andprocesses. Helping the student create a schema for reading L2 texts thereforemeant the teaching of strategic reading comprehension skills as well as other fix-up strategies which she could use whenever comprehension breaks down.Barnett (1988) outlined a basic format to a reading lesson designed toguide the students in activating particular schemata needed to process a reading

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