READING SKILLS IN THE CLASSROOM

It is not easy to give the best definition of literature; even
literary theorists and critics have difficulty in defining it.

According to Icoz, literature is language in use and so it is not
separable from language - READING SKILLS IN THE CLASSROOM introduction. But, in her opinion, literature also involves
more than language because meanings go beyond it, and the appreciation
and enjoyment of reading requires the development of more than just
linguistic capacities. She also claims that a basic understanding of
language literary texts is essential but not sufficient to comprehend
their significiance. (1992:10)
Other writers, such as Murdoch (1978), describe literature as a sort
of disciplined technique for arousing certain emotions or as simply a
language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. However,
there is one undeniable thing – reading books will exert a very great
influence on the readers’ personalities. There are many aspects of
life in which literature takes part. This is because there is a
continuous interaction between literature and social life. Reading
influences both social and emotional development because books teach
love, admiration and will even denounce negative behaviour. Thus,
literature is an extension of life, but many of life’s situations are
often an extension of literature as well. Besides, books give readers
of all ages much more:
– development of intellectual horizons
– providing specific knowledge of life, historical events or
psychological theory
– forming an outlook on life
– promoting aesthetic standards
Reading for pleasure involves selecting from a wide range of genres
that include: thrillers, science – fiction, classics, romance and
adventure stories.

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Reading is central to the learning process, and as Ghosn points out,
“… carefully chosen children’s literature allows children to develop
their receptive language in entertaining, meaningful contexts and
naturally invites them to repeat many of the predictable words and
phrases, which children gradually take ownership of and add to their
receptive and productive language.” (1997)
Thus it is advisable to use various books in the classroom, whenever
possible, and to get students accustomed to a wide range of literature
from the very beginning. Teachers should remember that children
usually tend to read books that are enjoyable, interesting or, in
other words, books that are a pleasure to read. The selection of a
book should provide both entertainment and at the same time it could
also be a good source of developing reading skills, which is extremely
significant in the case of foreign language learners.

As reading is an active process it involves a variety of
skills such as speaking, writing or listening. In order to develop
these abilities, several types of exercises can be used in the
classroom. But it is important to remember that many books are meant
to be read and enjoyed and too many exercises might spoil the pleasure
of reading. It is possible, for example, to develop the learners’
power of imagination through systematic practice or questions, which
can encourage students to expect the content of a text from its title
and illustrations or the end of a story from preceding paragraphs. As
Grellet points out, “This type of exercise has too often required
students to exercise not only their powers ofjudgementand
appreciation, but extending the range of these exercises to cover
other reading will lead to greater discussion and reflection on the
text. ” (1998:8)
I think that, apart from this point of view, there must be variety in
the range of such exercises. This is a very important factor in the
motivation and development of reading skills. As I have assumed
before, reading involves a variety of activities so it should not be
separated from other skills. As Laar and Holderness indicate, reading
and writing are linked activities, and children’s ownreading
experiences will help them to become in the future more reflective,
analytical and self – critical audiences. (1994)
To sum up, motivation is of great importance in the case
of developing reading skills in the classroom. This is because most of
what we usually read are books, magazines and advertisements that we
want to read. However, being motivated by various activities means
that we start reading a text prepared to find a lot of things in it,
expecting to find answers to many questions and specific information
or ideas we are interested in. And this is also a good reason for
developing reading skills in the classroom.

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