Home Forums GT TEFL Certification Course Topic – Reading Difficulties in a Foreign Language

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    • #278169
      Leon
      Keymaster

      Students learn vocabulary and grammar so why can’t they just read? Identify two or three reasons why students may face difficulties reading in English.

    • #278506
      Janice C.
      Keymaster

      1. Students who are weaker in the vocabulary will find it difficult to understand the context of the text. They need to understand the whole text in order to get the right meaning.

      2. Some students tend to scan for words that they recognised and ignore those they don’t know; this could lead to wrong meaning.

      • #301093
        Gabi Kotlubaj
        Moderator

        Thank you, Janice! This is the very reason why, as teachers, we need to raise students’ awareness that it is important to infer the meaning of unknown words from the context. Students often panic when they are faced with unknown words- this does not have to be the case and we can help them build their confidence and skills in using the context to work out the meaning of words they are not familiar with.

    • #278650
      Elisabetta
      Participant

      Some students try reading a book in English, they end up reading the dictionary more to find out what all those new words mean. I understand it can be frustrating for them, and they stop trying to read in the language they are learning after only a few attempts. Reading in a foreign language is certainly a challenging exercise, as you come across a larger range of vocabulary that perhaps you wouldn’t have come across when listening to people in that language.
      I noticed the students prefer reading short paragraphs rather than long ones, they are focus and it is easier to understand the content.
      Also, disinterest and boredom cause students not to pay attention to what they’re reading.

      • #301229
        Gabi Kotlubaj
        Moderator

        Hi Elizabetta,
        I particularly like your point about students’ ending up ‘reading a dictionary’, rather than the actual text. Reading can be a really frustrating experience for students when they take this approach.

    • #278652
      Alexandra
      Moderator

      When English is a second or third language, the vocabulary can be limited, mainly with specific language. Students, sometimes omit new language and guess the context of a text rather than understanding it. For longer paragraphs, they can’t keep up with the storyline and they lose interest.

    • #301492
      Gabi Kotlubaj
      Moderator

      Thank you Alexandra! Very good points.

      Using the context to work out the meaning of the text and new words, is actually a very useful reading skill and we need to encourage this in the classroom.

      You are so right about students’ difficulties with longer texts- the use of pronouns, articles, etc. to refer back to something mentioned earlier in the text, is often difficult for students, and they sometimes really struggle to follow the main ideas in the text.

      • #310228
        noemi.ch
        Participant

        I strongly agree with your point. On some occasions, students choose to focus on the not-so-relevant words because those are the ones they know, and that can lead them to a wrong comprehension of the text.

        On the other hand, there are also students who are afraid of inferring meaning from context, they often believe they don’t know enough to do it and that leads them to look up many words in a dictionary, so that makes reading slower and tiring.

    • #303547
      Michael Lynch
      Participant

      Not everyone reads books/articles in their L1. Personally, I read short articles and up to 240 characters in my L2.
      Americans might struggle to read a book or article that is written specifically for an Irish audience so choice of material is important.
      When I have a long text to read in my L2, I use google translate. 😬 😳

      • #303614
        Gabi Kotlubaj
        Moderator

        he he he. I am so happy you have brought up the use of google translate here! Imagine, if you will, that a student questions practising reading skills in class, saying ‘What’s the point, it is a waste of my time because I can just use google translate’. How could I reply to this?

        • #303689
          Michael Lynch
          Participant

          it is one reason my L2 reading is still so weak and that was actually what I was trying to say. I read a lot in Portuguese, mostly short pieces and there really isn’t a good reason for using a translator apart from some specific technical phrases.

      • #310230
        noemi.ch
        Participant

        That’s a very good point, in my opinion we sometimes overlook the original target audience of a text and don’t stop to consider whether that is actually an appropriate reading material for our students.

    • #303888
      Gabi Kotlubaj
      Moderator

      Hi Michael! We do hope you enjoy the reading skills module- we also hope you will find answers to the question why we should explicitly teach reading skills in the classroom ;=)

    • #305266
      anneharper333
      Participant

      1. Students may not be familiar with the Roman alphabet
      2. Weak general literacy skills in L1

    • #307319
      irynaroubel
      Participant

      There are different reasons why students have difficulties in reading. One of them is their wish to understand every word. They are not always able to understand that it is not important to know the meaning of EVERY word. Thus, they keep on looking the words up in the dictionary. The second reason is connected with the motivation. Students who have poor results may be reluctant to read because they are afraid of their inability to understand the text.

    • #310225
      noemi.ch
      Participant

      1) They may not recognise some words and get stuck.
      2) They feel that if they don’t know some words then they loose track of the ideas in the text. They usually tend to feel that they need to know and understand each and every word they read, and if they don’t, they assume they are doing it wrong.

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