Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies

Posted: March 12, 2013 in College, Trend in ELT Assignment
Ilustrasi Reading Comprehend by Y. Z. Harry Rahman Colleger of English Department Bung Hatta University

Ilustrasi Reading Comprehend by Y. Z. Harry Rahman Colleger of English Department Bung Hatta University

Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies

Submitted By: Greg Gay

Reading comprehension is the understanding of the message of a given text. It allows the person who reads to instantly capture the meaning of each word in the text as well as its underlying message. It is simply not just scanning the article being read. Instead, you need to exert time and effort in order to thoroughly understand what is being conveyed.

Reading comprehension is like your weapon. It enables you to formulate different meanings from the words in the text. It also helps readers in constructing different representations or ideas from what is being read.

By comprehending the messages of a given text, readers can easily answer any questions regarding the article. Although it requires tremendous time and effort, readers only need to understand the summary or the primary message being conveyed. The questions what, where, when, why and how help the readers to answer questions through comprehension.

Reading Comprehension Teaching Strategies

Certain strategies are being employed to help readers comprehend. Strategies and skills are not the same. A skill is a person’s capability while a strategy is more of a mental or physical technique that helps individuals do a certain action. While skills are innate, strategies are not. A person should effectively use a particular strategy to make it work not just for the reader but for the audience as well.

There are different strategies being used by readers as well as teachers in comprehending texts. For teachers, it will be more beneficial to be open-minded in order to formulate further strategies or ideas for better understanding.

ü  One of the most helpful strategies being employed by teachers is visualization. By creating mental images of the text being read, readers can easily discern the message of the text. Creating words into reality can also help in visualizing the article. It will be helpful for teachers to show images along with the text to easily get the message being conveyed.

ü  Another strategy is through asking questions. This is done by asking the reader about what they remember from the story. This is also one way of asking the readers how they find the text they read.

ü  Evaluation is also another strategy being employed by teachers, wherein readers are asked to analyze the context of the article. This will also determine if the readers understand the underlying message of the article. This approach is very helpful for readers in making judgment about the story being read.

ü  Teachers could also ask the readers to find connections between the article being read and their daily lives. This will not only help the readers to fully comprehend the moral of the story but also help them apply it to their lives.

ü  Lastly, teachers could also apply summarizing technique to the readers. From the word itself summarize, this approach involves intellectual and writing skills. With this approach, readers should be able to formulate what, when, where, why and how questions either on a piece of paper or in their minds.

Reading comprehension has evolved throughout the years. It helps students with their learning experience all over the globe. The success of literacy depends on reading institutes’ capacity to provide better learning experience for readers. Thus, accuracy, appropriateness and expressiveness in reading fluency must be developed.

Although there are different strategies being employed, no one can still deny that literacy is one of the problems being face by some countries today. This is primarily caused by reading materials shortage and teacher’s failure to use the reading strategies effectively.

Giving some reading comprehension needs of your child will really improve his/her skills. You certainly want him to improve in terms of learning and knowledge and as you also want the best for your child. Or you may try learning spelling.

As one of important skill in English language, reading skill should be thought effectively to the learners. Skilled readers use a wide range of strategies while reading. Some of these include the SQ3R technique, flow-charting, summarization, questioning and predicting. Of particular interest is the ability of learners to learn reading strategies, and how these strategies should be taught.

Bereiter and Bird (1985) conducted two studies which investigated strategy use while reading. In the first they transcribed think aloud protocols of expert readers (university students thought out loud while reading) and found four central strategies they use when comprehension fails:

  1. Restatement:
    1. rephrasing using inferred equivalents where unknown words appear
    2. paraphrasing in simpler terms
    3. inferring super ordinate propositions
    4. paraphrasing with inserted referents
    5. periodic summarization
  2. Backtracking
    1. reread from beginning of confusing segment
    2. reread previously comprehended parts
  3. Demanding relationships
    1. setting watchers (ex wh questions)
    2. Why? (cause and effect)
    3. What? (for what reason)
    4. Where? (for orientation)
    5. Links between topics (why, what, how, is this related)
  4. Problem formulation
    1. formulate comprehension failure into problem solving

These of course were only the most frequent strategies used. Many others were also used including prediction, imagery, and recall of related information.

The four central strategies were then taught to grades 7 and 8 students using three instructional groups and a control group. The instructional methods included:

  1. Modeling-plus-explanation (Teachers explained the strategies listed above and demonstrated them by thinking aloud. Students then practiced thinking aloud themselves while reading)
  2. Modeling only ( Like above without initial explanations of the strategies)
  3. Exercises (No modeling or explanation, but rather exercises which required students to use the strategies listed above. This latter is perhaps the most commonly used instructional method)

After nine instructional periods spread over three weeks only the Modeling-plus-explanation group showed a significant improvement ( 2.7 grade levels) in comprehension and only Restatement and Backtracking strategies were used. It was suggested that Demanding Relationships and Problem Formulation were skills found in older readers.

It does appear that modeling Restatement and Backtracking strategies by thinking aloud accompanied with verbal explanations (ex. Direct Instruction) of the strategies, and practice, helped grades 7 and 8 students improve their reading comprehension.

Other studies indicate that sophisticated reading strategies are difficult to teach and learn. For most reading strategies prompting is required. Despite knowing them, few students will use them. One helpful way to get students to use strategies is to point out what they should look for while reading. This raises their self-awareness, a point that is central to this course, and a point that underlies teaching any cognitive strategy; raising self-awareness requires direct instruction. Direct instruction alone, however, is not sufficient; an expert model is also required.

Thinking aloud is also been shown as an effective means of teaching writing skills, with the teacher modeling expert writing practice, and explaining the strategies that emerge.

  • Tips on Teaching Reading Comprehension
    Before I go into expounding some tips on teaching reading comprehension skills, a disclaimer is necessary. I am no expert in these matters. All that I talk about here is borne out of my own experience at teaching children to read and through my research on teaching reading comprehension that I undertook in that period. Some thoughts also owe their origin to my own process of learning reading comprehension, under the tutelage of some great teachers, which I had the privilege of studying under. I owe a lot to these teachers of mine, who were instrumental in igniting the passion for reading in me. Through teaching, I try to spread that spark to my own students. Here are some tips on teaching reading comprehension. You may or may not approve of them, but they will certainly be food for thought.Develop Vocabulary Powers
    Without knowing what words mean, comprehension is impossible. So, you must focus on developing the word power of children. When you encounter an unknown word in a passage, you must explain that word and what it means. Then whenever that word pops up again, you can ask children for what it means so that they remember it. Teaching students to look for word meanings in the dictionary is important. A good practice is, to make children underline words, that they do not understand in the first reading and then discuss them in class.Do Not Proceed Without Understanding
    One good rule to follow in class is teaching children not to continue reading without understanding. Every sentence must be understood before they go for the next one. Make students feel free to ask their doubts if they don’t understand.Grasping the Heart of the Matter
    Teach them how reading is made simpler when you understand the heart of the matter or the central idea of a passage. That way, they can easily connect and understand what binds all the sentences together and what is really being talked about.


Using Contextual Clues
One thing to teach students is that reading is a lot like detective work. You need to figure out the meanings of sentences through the context in which they are used. Teach them to question every line until the meaning is made clear, relevant to the context. It is all a matter of practice.

Visualizing What is Written
One of the simplest ways of mastering reading comprehension is visualizing what you read. Encourage students to visualize what they are reading. Especially, when you have given a story reading assignment, encourage children to visualize as they read. It is all about teaching reading strategies that help them to look beyond those black words printed on white and see the thoughts, images and ideas they represent!


Armstrong, W.H., & Lampe II, M.W. (1990) Pocket Guide to Study Tips, New York: Barron.

Bereiter, C. & Bird, M. (1985) Use of Think Aloud in Identification and Teaching of Reading Comprehension Strategies, Cognition and Instruction, 2(2) 131-156Source:Buzzle.com

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