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Historical And Theoretical Perspectives On Teaching Reading English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 918 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Literacy is the ability to use reading and writing for a variety of tasks at school and outside of school. Reading has become so much more than just picking up a book and reading, it has become a tool which in means “to participate more fully in the technological society of the 21st century.” (Tompkins, 2010, p.4) This essay will analyze and state the major themes, issues, and influences derived from perspectives that impact the classroom instruction.

There are three theoretical perspectives that are linked with reading and literacy education; they are modernist, transactional and critical perspective(s). Each theoretical perspective will be broke down by meaning and practices.

Modernist Perspective “is based on belief that meaning resides in the text.” (Eagleton, 1996) “Reading is conceptualized as an orchestrated set of transportable cognitive processes that individual readers acquire through formal instruction and use to uncover that meaning.” (Beach, 1993) Many have referred to the modernist theories and practices as autonomous, while schools refer to reading as “context-neutral, content-free, skill-specific competence that can be imparted to children with almost scientific precision.” (Serafini, 2009) Some of the modernist perspectives include meaning, comprehension, main idea, readings based on correctness, balance and leveled text. There are commercial reading programs in place in the schools that will test student’s abilities on reading and comprehension. One of those programs is called Accelerated Reader, this program provides teachers and students with a book list. Students then can check out those books and read them, once the student has read the book (at least three times) they are required to take a test, the student is given points as a grade for their knowledge on that book. Students are required to have a certain amount of points by the end of the grading period, and these points are also incorporated into their grade for reading. AR is added into their weekly reading assignments that may include worksheets or additional books. While reading is a vital part of education pressure has been placed upon teachers to meet the state standards.

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Transactional Perspective is “based on the belief that meaning is constructed in the transaction between a particular reader and a particular text.” (Rosenblatt, 1978) Learning to read is based on being familiar with sounds, symbol, grammatical, and meaning cues appropriate for reading and understanding what the student has read. Reading material needs to incorporate a vase variety of books as well as diverse levels that will meet the individual needs of the student based on state standards and assessments of the individual student. If the teacher is fluent in reading he/she will have a better chance of reaching their students. It is important that students understand that making mistakes in reading is to be expected, as this is part of the learning process. To help students progress in reading it should begin through a whole group or small group discussion, where the teacher interacts with the students not just by asking the random comprehension questions but by providing feedback helping the students understand the full content that they read.

Critical Perspective “focuses on the ways that texts are constructed in social, political and historical contexts, and on the ways in which these contexts position readers and texts and endorse particular interpretations.” (McKormick, 1994) “Reading is seen as a social practice of constructing meaning.” (Edelsky, 1999) Critical literacy is based on a broad assortment of perspectives and disciplines that help students. Critical literacy as an educational routine emphasizes on the connections linking language, knowledge, power and subjectivities in reading. Many people do not understand that songs, conversations, pictures, movies are all considered as text and that it has content within it for making sense of what the writer is saying. Some would say that text is the “vehicle through which individuals communicate with one another using the codes and conventions of society”. (Robinson, 2003) The use of critical literacy is being able to interpret the message and challenge what that message is implying. It is important that teachers facilitate this type of development by encouraging students to interrogate issues within society. When students are encouraged to think outside the box students will learn to evaluate and question what the writer is saying. Students can relate to real world issues better than fictional reading. “A critical perspective on reading assumes that there is no neutral, context-free construction of meaning. Reading is a social practice that cannot be separated from its political and cultural context.” (Serafini, 2003)

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In conclusion theoretical perspectives cover a vast amount of information. Reading employs many different methods. No matter which method a teacher uses, it is vital that he/she incorporates a strong curriculum in order to meet the individual needs of his/her students. Reading is the heart of our student’s education, without being able to read our students will struggle both in and out of the classroom. Our teaching strategies are important to our students as they are our future.


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