A Master of Arts Thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Fawzi Makni Entitled, "Enhancing Students' Growth in Reading by Developing their Reading Strategies," August 2006. Thesis Advisor is Dr. Fatima Badry. Available are both Soft and Hard Copies of the Thesis.
Research on reading comprehension has shown that proficient readers are those who construct meaning on their own using effective higher level reading skills and strategies. Also, reading researchers argue that effective teachers are those who teach comprehension strategically. However, in spite of all this focus on reading as a unified mental event where reasoning processes take place while reading for comprehension and the attempts to make these invisible processes observable and teachable, UAE government schools' reading textbooks and teachers still focus only on a small set of lower level, bottom-up comprehension strategies in teaching and testing reading. Students are stuck whenever faced with inferential higher level thinking questions and at a loss for the right reading strategies to cope with difficult reading materials consistent with standardized tests and academic readings. Given this situation, how can we, as teachers and reading researchers, help our struggling learners become better strategic readers and prepare them for university studies? I believe that by teaching and developing our students' effective comprehension strategies, we will contribute to their growth in reading and make of them autonomous proficient meaning makers. In an attempt to test this hypothesis, I diagnosed my students' (the participants) familiarity and use of both high-frequency lower and higher level strategies through a reading test, and based on results from this test together with other information that was obtained from the examination of the participants' pupil's book reading passages and the comprehension questions accompanying them, I tailored a three-month strategic reading course (the treatment). Such a course permitted me to acquaint the participants with eight key reading strategies either by consolidating the ones they know or familiarizing them with new ones. This battery of strategies included skimming, guessing word meanings, making predictions, using cohesive markers, and other strategies. As a sequel to this, I gave the participants a posttest to track their progress in the mastery of the taught strategies. The findings drawn from the quantitative and qualitative data gathered indicate the strategic reading course partly enabled the participants to gain a great deal of knowledge about a good battery of reading strategies which fluent readers possess. Thanks to this strategic reading course, the participants were more aware of the reading strategies, got insightful knowledge of how to use them, and approached reading passages using bottom-up and top down reading models. These findings suggest that the participants were on their way to developing proficiency in reading and support the hypothesis that by teaching UAE learners effective reading strategies, we can help them become more effective readers.