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A study on possible effective pre-reading activities to improve reading skills for 2nd- year english majors at the military science academy

I. Rationale
In many second or foreign language teaching situations, reading receives a special
focus. There are a number of reasons for this. First, many foreign language students often
have reading as one of their most important goals. They want to be able to read for
information and pleasure, for their career, and for study purposes. In fact, in most EFL
situations, the ability to read in a foreign language is all that students ever want to acquire.
Second, written texts serve various pedagogical purposes. Extensive exposure to
linguistically comprehensible written texts can enhance the process of language acquisition.
Good reading texts also provide good models for writing and provide opportunities to
introduce new topics, to stimulate discussion and to study language. Reading, then, is a skill
which is highly valued by students and teachers alike.
In process of teaching and learning English as a foreign language in Vietnam in
general, and at the Military Science Academy (MSA) in particular, reading has always been
offered a great deal of attention both from the teachers and the students.
Like many others universities in Vietnam, English at the MSA is learnt and taught in
non-native environment, therefore, reading is not only considered as a means to gain
knowledge but also a means by which further study takes place. In other words, learners
“read to learn” (Burns, 1988:11).
According to Carrel (1981:1), “for many students, reading is by far the most
important of the four skills in a second language, particularly in English as a second or

foreign language”. This is especially true to the students at the MSA, where learners are
mostly future interpreters, translators, or teachers of English in others Military Colleges
whose desires are to be able to handle subjects related to written materials in English and to
work with their English-speaking colleagues and partners. It is essential for them to acquire
the ability to read English effectively and efficiently. However, despite the teachers’ and
students’ effort, students still often claim to have a lot of difficulties in reading English
textbooks or English materials, and therefore, they sometimes read them inefficiently.
For the second-year students of English, although they have been learning English for
at least several years, it is still often difficult for them to understand a text or a passage in
English, since they still lack vocabulary, grammar, reading skills and poor background
knowledge. Besides, the teachers sometimes have to face with difficulties in dealing with the
students’ learning demand and newly introduced sources of materials. In addition, teaching
methods and teaching techniques in general, are still below the international standard of
education. To find out the areas of students’ difficulty at the MSA and the causes of their
unsuccessful reading comprehension is necessary. Therefore, these reasons have inspired the
writing of A Study on some possible effective pre-reading activities to improve reading
skills for the 2
nd -
year English Majors at the Military Science Academy. It is hoped that
the study will make some contributions to improve the learning of English in general, and
the learning of reading in particular among the 2
-year English majors at the MSA. The
author also hopes that it will be possible to make suggestions for the teachers to improve the
situation of teaching and learning reading at the MSA.
II. Aims of the study
The main purposes of the study are to investigate pre-reading techniques employed
by the teachers of English at the MSA, and to give a suggestion of some possible pre-
reading activities that can be applied to teach the text book More Reading Power to the
second-year students of English at the MSA.
To achieve these purposes, the study will focus on the following aims:
* To understand better and more fully the notions of reading and reading
comprehension, etc.
* To investigate the teachers’ and students’ attitude towards the pre- reading techniques.
* To examine the students’ preference for pre-reading techniques.
* To suggest some possible pre-reading activities which are thought to be effective
for teaching reading to the 2
-year students at the MSA.
III. Scope of the study
To improve reading skill for students of English at the MSA, the teachers can make
use of various techniques and number of things should be done. However, in this study, the
author only intends to overview a brief of current situation of teaching and learning reading
of the 2
-year students of English at the MSA, and to suggest some possible activities that
can be applied in the Pre-reading stage in order to motivate students in reading lesson as well
as help them to become good and effective readers.
IV. Methods of the study
The study was carried out on the basis of qualitative research method including
questionnaires and class observation.
Questionnaires are designed as a mean to make the researcher’s evaluation more
objective. The questionnaires are given to the second-year students and the teachers of
English at the MSA with the hope to find out their attitudes towards pre-reading techniques
and their comments and suggestions for these activities. Data were collected through the
survey questionnaires and class observation.
Analyzing statistics from the survey questionnaire on reading activities conducted with the
cooperation of the both teachers and students at the MSA. All comments, remarks,
recommendation assumptions, and conclusion provided in the study based on the data analysis.
Besides, more information needed for the study is gathered through other methods
such as class observations, informal interviews, and discussions with the teachers and
students at the MSA.
V. Significance of the study
The study highlights the importance of motivation to the reading skills in general and
to the pre-reading stage in particular. Moreover, the findings of the study are thought to be
useful for teachers of English to be aware of the essential role of the pre-reading activities to
the students’ motivation in reading lessons.
VI. Design of the study
The study is composed of three parts: Part A-Introduction provides rationale, the
aims, scope, methods, and design of the study. Part B-Development consists of three
chapters: Chapter 1-Literature review, conceptualizes the study’s theoretical background,
presents the concepts relevant to the topic of the thesis: reading and reading comprehension,
classification of reading, role of reading in foreign language learning, motivation and factors
in teaching and learning reading. Chapter one will be closed with the importance of the Pre-
reading activities in a reading lesson. Chapter 2-The study, presents the methodology used
in the study. It also shows the detailed results of the survey and covers a comprehensive
analysis on the data collected form questionnaires and class observations. Chapter 3-offers
some major findings and suggestions of some possible Pre-reading activities which are
thought to be helpful for teaching reading to the 2
year students of English at the MSA.
Part C- Conclusion is a review of the study, future directions for further research and
limitations of the study as well.
Chapter 1
1.1. Introduction
In this chapter, the author mainly concerns with reviewing the notions of reading and
reading comprehension. The review includes the definitions of each notion and followed by
the classification of reading, the importance of reading in foreign language learning, theory
of motivation and factors in teaching and learning reading. Last but not least, the importance
of the Pre-reading activities are also presented in this chapter as the main purpose of the
1.2. Theoretical background of reading
1.2.1. Definitions of reading and reading comprehension Definition of reading
Reading is often referred to as the most important of the four language skills for EFL
learners, as it enables students to gain exposure to the target language and receive valuable
linguistic input to build up language proficiency (Erten & Razı, 2003). We can not be sure
when reading activity begins, but we have to admit that reading is essential activity that
provides a great contribution in obtaining knowledge. It is obvious that in real life we usually
spend much time reading all sorts of things like books, magazines, newspapers, novels,
stories. However, sometimes we read but we do not understand what they mean, or can not
understand the text we read. In this case, it can not be called reading. So what is reading?
There have been numerous definitions of reading each of them is the reflection of its
author’s view of the reading process. Anderson (1999: 1) explains this very neatly as
follows: “Reading is an active, fluent process which involves the reader and the reading
material in building meaning. Meaning does not reside on the printed page or occurs in
reading, which combines the words on the printed page with the reader’s background
knowledge and experiences.”
According to Harmer (1989: 153), reading is a mechanical process that “eyes receive
the message and the brain then has to work out the significance of the message”. In his
definition, Harmer focuses on both two actions dominated by the eyes and the brain as well
as on the speed of the process “a reading text moves at a speed of the reader”, which means
that the readers themselves decides how fast he wants to read the text.
Sharing the same opinion, Smith (1985:102) defines “reading understands the
author’s thought”. He also added that “understanding print or even receiving communication
can hardly be said to explain reading”. The problem still remains how the reader understands
the print or the message. “It means that we-the reader-read the author’s mind not the author’s
words”. Roe, Stood and Burns (1987:2) describes reading in a more extensive way. In their
opinion, “reading is understanding written language”, “reading is a complex mental
process”, “reading is thinking”, or “reading comprehension is reconstruction, interpretation
and evaluation of what author of written content means by using knowledge gained from life
Another definition of reading was offered by Allen and Valletta (1977: 249). In their
opinion, “reading is a developmental process”. We learn reading not only to know how to
read, to master the symbols, the sound, the language, the grammar etc, that used in the text
but also to understand the ideas, the information expressed in that text or to develop the
ability of reconstructing its content using our own words. One more researcher called
Goodman (1971: 153) considers reading is “a psycholinguistic process by which the reader-
a language user, reconstructs, as best as he can, a message which has been encoded by a
writer as a graphic display.”
Reading involves a reader, a text, and a writer. Reading skills are developed in an
active process. This process involves the surface representation encoded by a writer and ends
with interpretation of the written text and interchanges between the writer and the reader
(Goodman 1969 in Carrell 1988). If the writer is careless, the reader may not get the
message. If the writer makes demands that the reader cannot fulfill, the message will not be
received, even though to another reader it might be clear. If the reader is careless, reading
will result in incomplete interpretation. The reader tries to interpret the text through his/her
own experiences, but they may differ from the writer’s experiences. This explanation proves
that reading is not just an active process, but also an interactive one. Reading is closely
linked with meaning. For this reason, lack of shared assumptions presents the most difficult
problem in reading.
To sum up, from all these opinions above, it is obvious that no definition can possibly
capture all the ideas and features of what reading is. Each linguist’s definition reflects what
reading means as seen from his own point of view. However, they all have some features in
common, they share the same ideas that reading means we-the readers read the author’s
mind not author’s word, and that reading means comprehending written language and it
employs a variety of skills. In addition, they all concentrate on the nature of reading. Definition of reading comprehension
In teaching and learning a foreign language in general and teaching reading in
particular, reading comprehension plays an important part, it can be understood as the ability
to draw attention to the required information from the text as efficiently as possible. So what
is reading comprehension?
According to Richard and Thomas (1987: 9), “Reading comprehension is best
described as an understanding between the author and the reader”. This point of view
concentrates on the reader’s understanding of the message based on the individual’s
background knowledge. They stated that “reading is much more than just pronouncing words
correctly or simply knowing what the author intends: it is the process whereby the printed
pages stimulate ideas, experiences and responses that are unique to an individual.”
In his book, Swan (1975: 1) pointed out that “A student is good at comprehension we
mean that he can read accurately and efficiently, so as to get the maximum information of a
text with the minimum of understanding”. For Roe, Stood and Burns (1987: 9): Reading
comprehension is reconstruction, interpretation, and evaluation of what author of written
content means by using knowledge gained from life experience.
Study the nature of reading comprehension, Grilled (1981: 3) indicated that “Reading
comprehension or understanding written text means extracting the required information from
it as effectively as possible”. This means that the student can show his understanding by re-
expressing the content of the text in many ways such as summarizing the text, answering
questions etc.
From these theories above, it can be understood that reading for comprehension is the
primary purpose for reading; raising students' awareness of main ideas in a text and
exploring the organization of a text are essential for good comprehension. It is the process in
which the readers - as they read, can recognize the graphic form and understand the relation
between the writing and the meaning. It means that after reading, students can master
grammar structures, words, pronunciation etc and can understand the content of the text and
use it in their real life as effective as possible. Furthermore, “reading without comprehension
is the meaningless” (Karolin and Karin, 1988: 2). Reading means comprehending written
language so when understanding break down, reading actually does not occur.
1.2.2. Classification of reading According to manner
According to Doff (1988), reading is divided into two main types: reading aloud and
silent reading.
* Reading aloud involves “looking at the text, understanding it and also saying it”
(Doff: 70) and he considers reading aloud as a way to convey necessary information to
someone else. Very few people are required to read aloud as a matter of daily routine. The
readers are asked to read the text so loudly that other people can hear it. Reading aloud does
not happen outside the classroom as Doff (1988: 67) said, “reading aloud is not an activity
we engage in very often outside the classroom”.
Reading aloud has both advantages and disadvantages. Natal (1966) sees reading
aloud as an important aid for beginners to improve their pronunciation. It helps students to
make the connection between sounds and spelling of letters and words and also assists the
teacher to check students’ pronunciation. Moreover, it is a technique for him to keep the
class under control, since when one student reads aloud, the others are asked to listen in case
they may be required to continue the reading.
However, Greenwood (1985) criticizes this idea; he claims that students may unable
to focus adequately on the text’s meaning when they highly concentrate on pronouncing the
words. His point of view implied that there are also some negative effects that should be
taken into account in the process of teaching and learning that involves reading aloud. First
of all, when reading aloud, students only focus on the pronunciation not on the meaning of
the text. The second thing is that when students take turn to read a text aloud, only one
student is active; the others will do something else, since they do not have to read. In
addition, this way of reading usually waste much time because students read in turn so they
have to wait one after one. It can be inferred that there is little value in reading aloud if we
want to improve the readers’ reading skills. Therefore, the teachers as educators should
identify the level of their students and decide whether to apply reading aloud or not in
teaching reading to their students.
* Silent reading is “the method we normally use with our native language and on the
whole quickest and most efficient” Lewis (1985: 110). Sharing the same idea, Doff (1988:
67) defined silent reading as followed: “silent reading involves looking at sentence and
understanding the message it conveys, in other words making sense of a written text. It does
not normally involve saying the words we read nor even silently in our heads”. Therefore,
we can see that silent reading is an effective skill for reading comprehension since students
do not need to read all the words of a text, they can read at their own speed and in case they
do not understand a sentence they can go back to read again. When reading silently, students
not only obtain its main ideas in the shortest length of time but also deeply understand its
details and can answer the questions as well.
To summarize, silent reading is one effective skill for reading process in general and
reading comprehension in particular, since the teacher can check his or her students’
understanding easily and can adjust the reading materials and exercises to suit the students’
ability. Therefore, it should be applied in teaching and learning a foreign language. According to purposes
People do not usually read unless they have a reason or a purpose for reading. They
always have a need of some kind that can be satisfied through reading. In the case of an
effective reader, his reason for reading will also determine his style of reading and the
relevant reading skills to be used because the purpose could be very general when he reads
for pleasure or escape. On the other hand, it could be specific like looking up a telephone
directory for someone’ phone number he can not use the same way of reading.
According to Nutgall (2000: 38), there are two main types of reading, namely,
intensive and extensive readings, these are not just two contrasting ways of reading but an
infinitive variety of interrelated strategies; both of them are complementary and necessary.
* Intensive reading (IR)
The aim of intensive reading is to arrive at a profound and detailed understanding of
the text not only of what it means but also of how the meaning is produced. IR means
reading short texts to extract specific information. Its main concern is for detailed
comprehension. In IR, students normally work with short texts with close guidance from the
teacher. The aim of IR is to help students obtain detailed meaning from the context, to
develop reading skills- such as identifying main ideas and recognizing text connectors- and
to enhance vocabulary and grammar knowledge. Nutgall’s opinion about this kind of reading
is: “Intensive reading involves approaching the text under the close guidance of the teacher
or under the guidance of task which forces the students to pay great attention to the text”
Nuttal (1982: 23). “Intensive reading”, from Francoise’s point of view, “means reading short
texts to extract specific information. This is an accuracy activity that involves reading for
detailed” Francoise (1981: 41). It can be inferred that IR often refers to the careful reading of
shorter, more difficult foreign language texts with the goal of complete and detailed
understanding. IR is also associated with the teaching of reading in terms of its component
skills. Texts are studied intensively in order to introduce and practice reading skills such as
distinguishing the main idea of a text from the detail, finding pronoun referents, or guessing
the meaning of unknown words.
* Extensive reading (ER)
In everyday life, to read extensively means to read widely and in quantity. In the
early part of this century, extensive reading took on a special meaning in the context of
teaching modern languages. Some researchers such as Harold Palmer in Britain and Michael
West in India worked out the theory and practice of extensive reading as an approach to
foreign language teaching in general, and to the teaching of foreign language reading in
Carrell and Carson (1997: 49,50) stated that “extensive reading generally involves
rapid reading of large quantities of material or longer reading for general understanding, with
the focus generally on the meaning of what is being read than on the language.” Although
this definition provides an overview of ER, Davis (1995: 329) offers another description of
ER from an English Language Teaching (ELT) classroom implementation perspective: “An
extensive reading program is supplementary class library scheme, attached to an English
course, in which pupils are given the time, encouragement, and materials to read pleasurably,
at their own level, as many books as they can, without the pressures of testing or marks.
Thus, pupils are competing only against themselves, and it is up to the teacher to provide the
motivation and monitoring to ensure that the maximum number of books is being read in the
time available. The watchwords are quantity and variety, rather than quality, so that books
are selected for their attractiveness and relevance to the pupils’ lives, rather than for literary
According to Grellet (1981: 2) ER means “reading a longer text usually for one’s own
pleasure. This is a fluency activity, mainly involving general understanding”. Sharing the
same view, Hammer (1986: 497) claimed that: “Extensive reading would normally start with
reading for the main ideas or for general information then for general comprehension and
finally, after much practice, for details comprehension”. ER is generally associated with
reading large amounts with the aim of getting an overall understanding of the material.
Readers are more concerned with the meaning of the text than the meaning of individual
words or sentences. In fact, most of ER is usually done silently and outside the classroom, it
gives the students opportunities to use their knowledge of the target language for their own
purposes. Besides, it provides the valuable reinforcement of language items and structure
already presented in the classroom, gives the students chance to update and enrich their
language knowledge by reading the topics they like and read for enjoyment without
consideration for pressure of time, intense concentration, and total comprehension. ER
therefore, is regarded as an effective way for the students to improve their language reading;
it helps students enhance language learning in such areas as spelling, vocabulary, grammar,
and text structure. Besides, it gives students more positive attitude toward reading offers
them greater enjoyment of reading, helps them to read with pleasure. It is also considered as
an advisable sort of work for the students to increase and improve their general knowledge of
the world as well.
Basing on the purposes of reading, people may be skimming or scanning as they are
reading extensively.
* Skimming
According to Grellet (1981: 19) skimming appears when “we go through the reading
material quickly in order to get its main points or the intention of the writer, but not to find
the answer to specific questions”. And Nuttall (1982: 36) also stated that “By skimming, we
mean glancing rapidly through a text to determine whether a research paper is relevant to our
own work or in order to keep ourselves superficially informed about matters that are not of
great importance to us”. In addition to the definitions of skimming, Wood (1990: 92) said
that “When the reader looks at the content page of the book, or the chapter headings, sub
headlines, etc. This is sometimes called previewing. Another example is when reader glances
quickly through a newspaper to see the main items of the day are. This will often mean just
glancing at the headlines”. That means when we quickly to get general impression to see
whether the text is useful to us, it is not necessarily searching for a specific details and key
words. Skimming provides an overview of the text so it is beneficial to look at chapter/
section headings, summaries and opening paragraphs, therefore, the purpose of skimming are
to check relevance of the text and to set the scene for more concentrated effort that is to
follow if the text is useful.
To sum up, skimming is a very useful reading skill for students, and it is advisable to
apply at the first stage of teaching reading with the hope that it can help them to have an
overview of what they are reading. Moreover, it will be easier for them to deal with the other
tasks that followed.
* Scanning
Based on the theory of scanning made by Williams (1986: 100) “Scanning occurs
when a reader goes through a text very quickly in order to find a particular point of
information”, it can be understood that scanning is very high speed reading. When you scan,
you often have a question in your mind. You do not read every word, only the words that
answer your question. Practice scanning can help you to skip over unimportant words so that
you can read faster. Scanning is another useful skill of reading which involves finding a
particular piece of information that we need. In scanning, we-the reader, usually focus on
searching the information we want, moving our eyes quickly along the lines. That is why
scanning is widely used in everyday life. For example, you might scan the list of names in a
telephone directory in order to find a phone number. It can also be usually practiced with
variety of sources such as dictionaries, indexes, advertisements, magazine, newspaper
articles, encyclopedia entries, labels, or reference materials and so on. Scanning is regarded
as a useful and important technique that helps students understand the gist of the texts well.
Generally speaking, there are different styles of reading and they are determined not
by the texts but by the readers’ reasons for reading. An effective reader is the one who can
adapt his flexibly according to his purpose of reading. A reader skims through the text to see
what it is about before scanning for specific information he is looking for. He does not
choose the text either extensively or intensively. To understand a text, these types of reading
are not used separately but in a combination altogether.
1.3. Teaching and learning reading skills
1.3.1. The importance of reading in foreign language learning
In the process of teaching and learning a second or foreign language, the teaching and
learning of reading are always received much attention, since it is regarded as one of the
most important major skills as what Carrell (1971: 1) stated: “for many students, reading is
by far the most important of the four macro skills, particularly in English as a second or
foreign language”. This is also true for the MSA, because at our academy, reading is an
active skills namely speaking, listening and writing. To master reading skill is always
challenging task that requires students a number of factors: a good competence of English
grammar, rich vocabulary, and reading techniques. First of all, reading helps students learn
to think in English, enlarge their English vocabulary, improve their writing. Richard
(1993:4) claimed that “reading may help to increase knowledge of the target language
through exposure to new vocabulary and grammatical structures”. There is a close
relationship between reading and vocabulary knowledge, because while reading, the readers
know most of the words in the text already, and they can also determine the meaning of
many of the unfamiliar words from the contexts. Therefore, the best way to acquire a large
vocabulary is to read. It is understandable that anyone who has a large vocabulary is usually
a good reader.
Besides, Richard (1993: 4) also stated that “reading in the new language is also an
important way to learn about the target culture”, which means that reading provides the
students with a wide range of interesting information, helps them understand the ways of
life, behaviors, thoughts and other aspect of the native people and it is also a good way to
find out about new ideas, facts and experiences. Therefore, they can master vocabulary,
grammar and the background knowledge or cross-cultural problems that they encounter. In
other words, reading is very important to the foreign language learners because it widen their
knowledge of language and life. In the context of MSA, it seems to be the most important
skill to the students of English since their main purpose is to understand the written texts.
1.3.2. Factors in teaching and learning reading Teacher’s role
Many linguistics state that the teacher is the most important factor in teaching
reading. In a reading class, the teacher plays so many roles, such as an organizer, a manager
and a counselor, an instructional expert, so he or she should be a guide to assist, encourage
them, employ various types to support the students develop reading skills. He or she also the
person who provides the students with an anxiety-free atmosphere which helps them feel free
to join new reading style, practice to master new strategies, work under pressure of time.
Besides, linguistics point out an essential element of the teacher’s role-a model
reader. According to Nuttall (1982: 192) “showing that you are a reader means carrying
books around with you, referring to books as you teach, reading out brief passages that may
interest students, talking about what you are reading at the moment, and handling books as if
you loved them”. He also states that “teacher’s job as providing, first, suitable texts and
second, activities that will focus the students’ attention on the texts” Students’ role
Obviously, students themselves play an important role in improving their own
reading skills. Nuttall (2003: 33) provides several major roles for the students in a reading
lesson. First, they should “take an active part in reading”. This is the first and foremost
responsibility of the learners. They have to be active and take charge of what they do.
Second, students have to take the risk of making mistakes because a mistake is an
opportunity to learn. The next thing is “monitoring comprehension”, which means students
need to understand how texts work and what they do when they read. They have to learn
how to carry on a dialogue with the text. The last thing for them to do is learning not to cheat
oneself, students who do not want to learn to read can easily cheat, but in fact, they are
cheating themselves, it is just a waste of time and their opportunities as well. The reading texts
It can not be denied that reading texts play a crucial role in teaching and learning
reading because through them new grammar, phonetic and lexical items of the target
language are introduced. Furthermore, texts are also means to help students enrich their
background knowledge and vocabulary as well. In reading lesson, students are supposed to
understand the texts correctly as much as possible, learn some new language items e.g.
words, structures, and use what they have got from the text through reading tasks and
communication activities that follow. Therefore, in teaching reading, the teacher should pay
much attention to the following aspects such as language content, vocabulary and
grammatical structures, types of reading activities, though it is not simple thing to do as what
Buck, G (2001) states: “Providing suitable texts is not a simple matter. It takes time, effort
and some expertise”.
1.4. Theoretical background of motivation
1.4.1. Definition and types of motivation
It is common knowledge that motivation is vast and complicated subject
encompassing many theories. Motivation is thought to be important and inevitable in most
fields, without which one is difficult to succeed. Most definitions of motivation reflect that
motivation is an internal state or condition that serves to activate or energize behavior and
give it direction. Kleinginna (1981: 6) defines motivation as “a desire or want that energizes
and directs goal-oriented behavior”. Sharing the same point, Brown (2000: 160) indicates
that “motivation is some kinds of internal drive which pushes someone to do things in order
to achieve something”. Motivation is also suggested by Woolfork (2001: 136) as “an
internal state that arouses, directs and maintains behavior”.
Kinds of motivation and their features have been discussed by scholars and
psychologists, who refer to motivation which comes from inside as well as from outside.
According to the researchers, there are many different kinds of motivation such as
Integrative, Instrumental Intrinsic, Extrinsic, Global Situational, and Tasks. Among them,
intrinsic and extrinsic motivations have an important part in classroom motivation and they
are partially accessible to teacher influence.
* Intrinsic Motivation (IM)
According to Wlodkowsk (1991) intrinsic motivation refers to “motivation to engage
in an activity for its own sake”. Sharing the same point, Reeve (1996) defines that intrinsic
motivation “is the natural tendency to seek out and conquer challenges as we pursue personal
interests and exercise capabilities”. Raffini (1996) also states that “what motivates us to do
something when we do not have to do anything”. The factors that support intrinsic
motivation are competence-feeling that you know how to do things, autonomy-being able to
perform an activity by yourself without external help and relatedness-connection with your
social environment like helping the others. This can be understood that intrinsic motivation
comes from the individual, or in other words, from one’s interest or curiosity.
* Extrinsic Motivation (IM)
We experience extrinsic motivation when we do something tin order to earn a grade
or reward or when we are not interested in the activity for its own sake. Harmer (2001)
indicates that extrinsic motivation is “caused by any number of outside factors such as the
need to pass an exam, the hope of financial reward or the possibility of future travel”.
Most writers agree that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation interact with each other and
play an important role in second language learning. As a result, students can be either
motivated by internal or external factors depending on the circumstances and conditions the
activity is performed.
1.4.2. The importance of motivation in second language learning
As mentioned above, motivation is essential to success in most field of learning. We
will almost certainly fail to make the necessary effort without motivation. Many studies have
proved that motivation is very strongly related to achievement in language learning. Brown
(1990) shares this point of view by claiming that “a learner will be successful with the proper
There has been a great deal of research on the role of motivation in second language
learning. However, it is not simple for researchers to indicate precisely how motivation is
related to learning. This can be explained that “motivation in second language is a complex
phenomenon, which can be defined in terms of two factors: learners’ communicative needs
and their attitudes towards the second language community” (Lightbown and Spada, 1999).
Motivation is one of the main determining factors in success in foreign or second language
learning. According to Oxford and Shearing (1996: 121,122) “motivation is important
because it directly influences how often students use L2 learning strategies, how much
students interact with native speakers, how much input they receive in the language being
learned (the target language), how well they do on curriculum-related achievement tests,
how high their general proficiency level becomes, and how long they persevere and maintain
L2 skills after language study is over…. Therefore, motivation is crucial for L2 learning, and
it is essential to understand what our students’ motivations are”. In their research on
motivation, Brown, Mallow, Crooks, and Schmidt seem to be in favor of intrinsic
orientation. However, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are necessary for language
learners, especially for most Vietnamese learners, who are often influenced by social and
institutional factors like finding better job opportunities as well as pressure of exams. That is
why it is essential to make the learners aware that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are
beneficial in second language learning.
1.4.3. The importance of motivation in learning reading
Study on the importance of motivation in learning reading, Redneck and Lester,
(2000: 5) state that: “motivation is one of the most important ingredients in skilled reading”.
You can realize that you are more engaged when you are reading something that interests
you. There are many factors that can help you become interested in what you are reading,
such as: your thoughts, feelings, interests, and your background knowledge. Reading
motivation refers to the desire to read, even when not required to do so. Reading motivation
involves seeking out opportunities to read for curiosity, knowledge, and involvement.
Researchers, who study on reading, recognize that in order to create lifelong readers,
endowing the learners with proficient reading are not enough. They also need to have
internalized motivation. Besides, reading material is another important factor that greatly
influences the students’ motivation in a reading lesson. First of all, if the reading material is
interesting and relevant to the students, it will motivate them to read more. Reading material
should have suitable contents, this means, the texts are considered suitable will tell the
students thing they do not know and introduce them to new and relevant ideas. Secondly,
reading material’s language items such as vocabulary and grammatical structures may have
an impact on the students’ motivation. Through the texts, the students can understand the
way the others feel or think and make them read for themselves. In addition, teacher also
poses an important factor in motivating the students in a reading lesson. The teachers play
the key role in creating a good classroom environment, since it has a powerful effect on the
encouragement or discouragement of motivation to learn. Furthermore, the teachers’
activities and tasks are the key component to the students’ motivation learning reading skill.
Therefore, the teachers should aware of their students’ needs, including their motivation for
reading and the purpose that reading has in their lives. They should provide suitable
techniques to help the students to develop their competence as readers during the reading
1.4.4. Definition and the importance of Pre-reading activities in learning reading
Different researchers such as Lazar (1993: 83), Chen and Graves (1995: 664),
Taglieber, Johnson and Yarbough (1988: 456), and Moorman and Blanton (1990: 176) have
provided many definitions of Pre-reading activities. Lazar for example, defines pre-reading
activities as activities that help students with cultural background, stimulate student interest
in the story, and pre-teach vocabulary. Chen and Graves define Pre-reading activities as
“devices for bridging the gap between the text’s content and the reader’s schemata”.
Focusing on L1 reading instruction, Taglieber, Johnson and Yarbough (1988: 456)
point out the motivational aspect of Pre-reading activities. According to these writers, pre-
reading activities activate or develop prior knowledge, provide knowledge of the text
structure and also establish a reason for reading.
It can not be denied that Pre-reading activities play a crucial important role in
motivating the students through the reading lesson. The aim of using Pre-reading activities is
to activate the reader’s background knowledge, to prevent failure, and to support the reader’s
interpretation of the text. Employing Pre-reading activities in the first stage of the reading
lesson can promote interaction between the reader and the text. Ur (1996) emphasises that
the aim of Pre-reading activities is to provide anticipation and activate reader in the next
stages of the reading process. The purpose of using these activities is to develop a better self-
awareness of the relationship between the reader’s meaning and the author’s meaning; and to
help readers understand the teacher’s expectations and views.
1.5. Summary
In this chapter, the relevant literature which has helped from the theoretical
background and conceptual framework for the study is presented. First, definitions of
reading and reading comprehension have been given. Second, some kinds of reading
suggested by different theorists have been presented and taken into consideration. What is
more, concepts and ideas about motivation in general and in second language learning in
particular have been mentioned. In addition, the importance of motivation and the factors
affecting the students’ motivation in learning reading skill as well as definitions and the
importance of Pre-reading activities have also been reviewed. The next chapter will display
the methodology and findings of the research in the light of the theories mentioned above.

Chapter 2
2.1. Introduction
In this chapter, the author attempts to outline two parts of the study. The first part
focuses on the current situation of teaching and learning reading skill at the MSA, in which
the description of the subjects as well as settings for the study and instruments are discussed.
The second part is an analysis on the data collected from the survey questionnaires and the
class observation.
2.2. Situation analysis
2.2.1. Aims of the study
Being a teacher of English at the English Department, MSA for over ten years, I have
decided to carry out a survey on pre-reading activities conducted by the teachers and students
at the MSA in order to find out whether the assumption above is true or not. Finally, I will
come up with a suggestion of some possible pre-reading activities with the hope to motivate
students in reading lessons as well as to improve their reading skills in general.
2.2.2. The setting of the study
This study was conducted at the MSA, where the author is teaching. The Academy
has been in operation for more than fifty years. It is the unique Military College of the
Ministry of Defense that train teachers, translators, interpreters and others who need foreign
languages in their jobs. English is only one of many other languages taught such as French,
Chinese, Russian, Thai, etc. The students have to go through a four-year course learning both
background and specialized knowledge.
Like other languages, in the English Department, English is taught in a formal
setting known as a classroom. The teaching is divided into two stages. During the first
stage, students spend the first two years studying general English and the four macro
language skills such as speaking, reading, listening and writing under the guidance of the
teachers. Usually, three or four teachers are in charge of a class, each of them is responsible
for teaching one or two language skills using certain textbooks selected by the staff of the
Department and additional materials chosen by the teachers themselves. At the second
stage, the students have to spend time on studying other subjects like grammar, phonetic,
lexicology, country study, translations, methodology English and American literature, etc.
The students have English classes almost every working day. However, class time spent for

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