Week 4: Reading/Vocabulary Skill-Building

Another valuable week is about to say “Good Bye”. I’m still enthusiastic and happy with this course despite of having two other courses at the same time. I want to involve in the discussion more and more, but again time is a big problem. Any way, I’ll try to divide my time wisely to accomplish all tasks required.

For this week, we have 4 tasks in addition to an optional discussion about lesson planning. One of the tasks that I’ve accomplished is to read some articles about ways to use computers to enhance ways to teach reading and vocabulary, then find specific web pages that work with my students. One of the articles provided by Deborah is Using Technology to Assist in Vocabulary Acquisition and Reading Comprehension written by Constantinescu (2007): http://iteslj.org/Articles/Constantinescu-Vocabulary.html. This article stresses the idea of integrating language skills and areas. Although it is important to focus on each skill separately to identify its elements, we can’t do this. We will find them integrated unconsciously. Here for vocabulary and reading, there is a close relationship between them. As Constantinescu (2007) concludes that the better the students’ vocabulary knowledge is, the better they perform with reading comprehension tasks.

Technology also enhances this relationship and provides teachers with many tools to do this. One of these tools is multimedia. Constantinescu (2007) reviewed many studies regarding the effect of using multimedia on developing vocabulary and reading comprehension and he found that multimedia plays an important part in both vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension, therefore, teachers should be a ware of the potential benefits of integrating technology in language classroom.

For me, I like the idea of integrating more than one sense to develop students’ skills. Multimedia meets this need. I think it is better to present a text with audio, video and graphics. It will be more interesting and make students involve in doing such tasks. That’s why I’m taking “Visual Basic” course these days. I just want to design some reading programs. I want my students to be good readers as reading is one of the most important ways for rich input. I’m sure if students read more, they will be proficient.

Another way for developing reading comprehension is using suitable and rich websites. One of these websites provided by Deborah is “Breaking News English”: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/. It is one of the most valuable websites that provides well-organized lesson plans. If you choose any lesson, you will find everything you need as a teacher: print materials, mp3 downloads, complete lesson plans, games, …. etc. Also there is a handout that includes step-by-step guidelines of all what will happen in the lesson with many alternatives. Any lesson plan follows the 3-stage approach: Pre-While-Post. I think it is a successful approach as it makes students concentrate on a certain task at a time. At the end, I recommended my colleagues to use this website with their students as it provides many activities from which they can select putting in mind students’ levels and interests.

Many of my colleagues recommended the same website: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/. Juliet & Bella for example used it to search for more authentic text that is suitable for their students. Janet used it as it allows students to work with material focused on current events. Luiza also used it with her students. I like her idea about adapting lesson plans taking into consideration the objectives and target students. You know it is not desirable to adopt something and apply it as it is, we should decorate it with our experience putting in mind the context in which students live. Hanan also recommended this website for teachers who have difficulty working online most of the time. As I mentioned above, we can download and print all activities and handouts we need. For Arbi, what he liked about this website was its smooth integration of all skills in a well-organized lesson plan.

For developing vocabulary acquisition, I’ve visited another website suggested by Deborah. This website http://a4esl.org/ is also well-organized with many quizzes and crosswords for all levels “easy, medium, difficult”. Of course, students sometimes need to play and have fun. So, this website provides them with many printable quizzes and crosswords that can be used as closure activities. It will be more interesting. Reading my colleagues’ posts, I have not found them visit it except Victoria. She also used it as me to search for quizzes and crosswords.

By doing this task I’ve learned a lot about how to develop vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension. Also, I want to thank my colleagues for their fruitful discussion. Although we use the same websites, we deal with them differently. This makes me think from different perspectives and now I’m a lady with “30” minds or more.

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