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Theoretical Perspectives On Teaching Reading English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1010 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Literacy is the ability to use reading and writing for a variety of tasks at school and outside of school. Reading has become so much more than just picking up a book and reading, it has become a tool which in means “to participate more fully in the technological society of the 21st century.” (Tompkins, 2010, p.4) This essay will analyze and state the major themes, issues, and influences derived from perspectives that impact the classroom instruction.

There are three theoretical perspectives that are linked with reading and literacy education; those are modernist, transactional and critical perspective(s). Each theoretical perspective will be broke down by meaning and practices.

Modernist Perspective “is based on belief that meaning resides in the text.” (Eagleton, 1996) “Reading is conceptualized as an orchestrated set of transportable cognitive processes that individual readers acquire through formal instruction and use to uncover that meaning.” (Beach, 1993) While it is stated that only the most competent readers can understand the “pure essence” of text reading can be gauged by one exact sense. While some have referred to the modernist theories and practices as autonomous, schools refer to reading as a “context-neutral, content-free, skill-specific competence that can be imparted to children with almost scientific precision.” (Serafini, 2009) Some of the modernist perspective include meaning, comprehension, main idea, readings based on correctness, balance and leveled text. There are commercial reading programs that are in place in the school system(s) to test student’s abilities in reading. One program is AR (Accelerated Reader), with this program students are able to acquire a book from a list and are required to read it three times and take a computer test about the book to earn points. Some classes require a certain amount of points by the end of the grading period, and these points are also used in their grading when students get their report cards. This reading is in addition to any other reading assignments that are assigned by the teacher. While reading is a vital part of education there has been “political pressures to raise test scores,” which can put pressure on teachers to cover all necessary standards and that the students are meet all the standards that have been set forth.

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Transactional Perspective is “based on the belief that meaning is constructed in the transaction between a particular reader and a particular text.” (Rosenblatt, 1978) This is translated into the reader (student) bringing prior knowledge and experience to their reading. Learning to read is an event where the reader’s reply to text is habituated by sounds, symbol, grammatical, and meaning cues appropriate for the print, people, physical environment, cultural expectations of the circumstances, and each individual’s understanding, comprehension, skills and strategies for processing wording. Reading material needs to incorporate a variety of books as well as diverse levels that will meet the individual needs of the student. Students will demonstrate more fluent reading skills from their teachers who have well developed material(s) and instruction. Teachers and students must carefully read text to fully understand its structure. It is important that students understand that making mistakes in reading is to be expected, as this is part of the learning process. Teachers must be fluent reading and construct appropriate meaning for their students. To help students progress in this type of learning it can be accomplished through a whole group or small group discussion, where the teacher interacts with the students not just by asking the typical comprehension questions but by providing feedback helping the students understand the full content of the text that they read.

Critical Perspective “focuses on the ways that texts are constructed in social, political and historical contexts, and on the ways in which these contexts position readers and texts and endorse particular interpretations.” (McKormick, 1994) “Reading is seen as a social practice of constructing meaning.” (Edelsky, 1999) Critical literacy is based on a broad assortment of perspectives and disciplines. Critical literacy as an educational routine emphasizes on the connections linking language, knowledge, power and subjectivities in reading. Many people do not understand that songs, conversations, pictures, movies are all considered as text. Some would say that text is the “vehicle through which individuals communicate with one another using the codes and conventions of society”. (Robinson, 2003) The use of critical literacy is being able to interpret any message and challenge that message within the text. It is important that teachers facilitate this development by encouraging students to interrogate issues within society. This will encourage students as they get older to engage society and follow topics of interest as well as topics that affect them directly within society. When encourages to think outside the box students need to learn to evaluate and question what the writer. “A critical perspective on reading assumes that there is no neutral, context-free construction of meaning. Reading is a social practice that cannot be separated from its political and cultural context.” (Serafini, 2003)

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In conclusion theoretical perspectives cover a vast amount of information. Reading employs many different methods. No matter which method a teacher uses, it is vital that he/she incorporates a strong curriculum in order to meet the individual needs of his/her students. Reading is the heart of our student’s education, without being able to read our students will struggle both in and out of the classroom. Our teaching strategies are important to our students as they are our future.


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