The term `reading` can be defined in many ways as it is regarded as the amalgamation of visual and non-visual experience or behavior. It is a process of understanding a text in its simple sense. Understanding a text means comprehending a text. Thus, reading is the total understanding of a message or a message is a text. So, in a usual way, reading is handled as reading comprehension.
Reading skill plays an important role in teaching English as a second language. Learners who have good reading ability will progress in their careers and their further studies. For those who study English as a second language, ability in English reading comprehension is a must. Learners need reading comprehension to be able to get better success in the future.
1.1.1 Reading Skills
As we know that reading is one of the receptive language skill in which students read some reading text and get information about the concerned subject matter. Whereas reading comprehension refers to the state of having knowledge of subject matter. Hornby (1996, p. 132) defines comprehension as ‘The ability to understand and an exercise that trains students to understand a language`. According to Wikipedia, reading comprehension is defined as ‘a level of understanding which comes from the interaction between the words that were written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text message`.
Reading is an important way of learning a foreign language. Reading has been defined differently by different
scholars in many ways. According to Khaniya (2005, p.139) `Reading generally means understanding or making sense of a given text. This means the meaning is not merely lying in the text waiting to be passively absorbed. On the contrary the reader will have to be actively involved and will have to get the meaning out. Before reading, the reader must assume about the code and the message the writer has tried to provide to the reader`.
Reading is receptive skill which is necessary for understanding the content of the subject matter. In the natural order of language learning receptive skill always comes before the productive skill. Therefore it is necessary to develop the receptive skill in order to develop productive skill. This fact shows that reading skill works as a foundation in developing other skills of the language. Grellet (1995, p.33) defines reading as ` understanding a written text means extracting the required information from it as effectively as possible`.
There were different types of reading skills found in English language teaching and learning which were categorized by Grellet (1995, p. 32) in the following ways:
- Skimming: quickly running one`s eyes over a text to get the gist of it.
- Scanning: quickly going through a text to find a particular piece of information.
- Extensive reading: reading longer text, usually for one`s own pleasure. This is a fluency activity, mainly involving global understanding.
- Intensive reading: reading shorter text to extract specific information out of many. This is more an accuracy activity involving reading for detail.
Reading means understanding the text that involves required information and message. It is one of the important aspects of learning a foreign language. It opens the gateway of knowledge. To read means to understand the various sub-skills of reading which were listed below. According to Munby (1978, p.35)
- Recognizing the script of a language.
- Deducing the meaning.
- Understanding the conceptual meaning.
- Understanding relations with the sentence.
- Understanding the communicative value of sentence and utterances.
- Understanding cohesion between parts of a text through grammatical cohesion devices.
- Interpreting text by going outside it.
- Recognizing indicators.
- Identifying the main point.
- Distinguishing the main idea from supporting details.
- Extracting salient points to summarize.
- Selective extraction of relevant points from the text.
- Basic reference skills.
- Skimming and scanning.
Hence, reading is not a passive skill it involves an active effort on the part of the reader.
- Statement of the Problem
As we know, there were four different language skills, they were: listening, speaking, reading and speaking that the language learner must learn. There is no possibility of speaking without listening, reading without speaking and writing without reading. One becomes incomplete in the absence of others. Among the four language skills here I am going to talk about the importance of reading skill.
In the context of Nepal students secure most of the percentage of the marks on the basis of the reading comprehension. It means if the student is able to read the text and comprehend it then he/she will get marks otherwise not.
I have chosen this topic to get information related to reading comprehension. The subject matter that I wanted to find out was: what is the condition of the public schools students in reading comprehension?
- Rational of the Study
This research is very important to develop the students reading comprehension ability. Students and teachers of different schools will be benefited from it, so that it is essential to carry out the study.
- Objectives of the Study
This study was based on following objectives:
- To find out the reading comprehension ability of Seventh graders of public schools.
- To compare reading comprehension ability on the basis of the following variables:
- Seen Vs unseen
- Text wise : biography, story and letter
- Gender wise
- To suggest some pedagogical implications of the study.
- Research Questions
The questions for this study were:
- What is the condition of the public schools` students in reading comprehension?
- Do they have similar condition or not?
- Significance of the Study
This study will be beneficial to the learners, teachers, subject-expert, curriculum designers, text-book writers, language trainers and all the people who directly or indirectly involved in English language teaching and learning. This study will be helpful to find out the students` ability in reading comprehension.
- Delimitations of the Study
The study had the following delimitations:
- This study was limited to find out the reading comprehension ability of the seventh graders only.
- This study was limited to compare reading comprehension ability of the students.
- This was limited to compare reading comprehension ability using seen and unseen texts only.
- This study was done using seen and unseen biography, stories and letters only.
- Operational Definition of Key Term
Following key words were used in the study;
Proficiency: The state or quality of being proficient and very skilled or knowledgeable in guided writing for this study.