READING INTERESTSStudents usually decide to read something because thay arestimulated by various needs. Some of them read books only because theyare forced to do it or because they want to pass a test or anexamination. Such students will never be very good readers. On theother hand there are others who want to expand their knowledge becausethey have some long-lasting goals to achieve. They may want to be ableto communicate with the people speaking a particular language or learnand understand more about the culture of a given nation.
From thepsychological point of view it is obvious that people’s behaviour isgoal-directed, so whatever they decide to do, certain reasons for thisexist.Motivation is necessary to encourage students to read. It makes themeager to expand reading skills. However, motivation does not comefrom nowhere and the teacher’s task is to exploit all elements thatare a great source of it.A teacher is a person who controls the process of learning. Asuccessful teacher, in Harmer’s opinion, is characterised by certainfeatures.
Among them the most significant are: – personal features like kindness, friendliness, the way he treats hisstudents,objectivity, self-control and so on, – the level of language acquisition, for example clear pronunciation,stimulatingway of speaking, sensitivity to students’ level, – good qualifications (not necessarily related to one’s education), forexamplepossession of basic teaching skills: communicative, perceptive,constructive, organising and evaluating. (1996)All these qualities are important. Though, the feature that guaranteestheir proper useis personal engagement. A born teacher changes all the time due to hisgrowing experience, he is eager to teach, willing to make his classesinteresting, teaches and entertains at the same time. Being a goodteacher is often associated with possesion of broad knowledge of asubject.
It is really significiant for a teacher to be an expert inhis area of work.According to Moon and Raban, identifing the differences amongchildren’s personalities and providing appropriate reading materialsfor them in busy classrooms is a challenge that teachers can meet withenthusiasm and skill. (1992)A teacher greatly influences a child’s first experience with a bookwritten in a foreign language. Students at the pre-intermediate andintermediate level are not yet able to master a reading skill to avery good extent. When a young reader first takes a book, he looks forillustrations and then he begins to be interested in short chapters. Ateacher is very often the person who helps a student with choosing aproper book suitable to his knowledge of a foreign language.
However,a teacher will be better able to develop his students’ readinginterests if he knows not only his pupils’ needs but also provides ahuge choice of books that appeal to their interests as well.Nevertheless, the teacher should remember that the meaning of literaryworks will depend on each individual’s reading. Murdoch expresses thispoint well: “It is the individual reader’s freedom to interpret a textaccording to his own outlook on the world, beliefs, and experiencesthat makes a text the study of literature such an exciting andliberating experience.” (1992)One of the most difficult tasks of a language teacher, both innative and foreign language contexts, is to help and encourage thedevelopment of a positive attitude towards reading.
Unfortunately,very often because of time limits and other restrains, teachers areunable to actively encourage students to look for information andentertainment in reading books. However, a teacher may help younglearners to develop their language skills necessary for success if heis able to provide an effective reading programme, which mostlydepends on children having access to reading materials that arerelevant to their own needs and interests. Latha argues that it ispossible to develop children’s reading interests only if they areencouraged toparticipate in carefully structured activities and given incentives topromote reading. (1999)In addition to this, the teacher’s knowledge and understanding ofcultural factors can also help students overcome any obstacles thatmay keep them from developing positive attitudes towards reading.Thus, teachers need to use every available resource at their disposalto motivate young readers.
It is very advisible, for example, to builda foundation for a class-based reading programme, begining with aninformal classroom atmosphere. Students should be able to identifyclosely with the teacher who, as a reading guide, is willing to sharehis own early reading experiences with young learners. The use ofcassettes, in Latha’s opinion, “can never replace teachers who arousestudents’ interests by reading aloud selected extracts from well-chosen texts.” (1999)Additionally, teachers can motivate children to read by developingpractical as well as the so-called creative activities linked to thevarious subjects. This may include suchactivities as, for example, building kites or model planes, growingplants or preparing simple meals.
The science and geography teacherscan help select suitable reading materials for these types ofactivities.The teacher is to be a supervisor, assessor, guide, corrector,prompter, feedback supplier and, what is vitally important, a humanbeing. Perhaps the most important and difficult role the teacher hasto play is that of an organiser. The success of many activitiesdepends both on good organization and on the students knowing exactlywhat they are to do.
A lot of time can be wasted if the teacher failsto give students essential information. The main aim of the teacherwhen organizing an activity is to tell the learners what they aregoing to read or talk about. Thus, for example, if students arereading for specific information they must clearly understand thatthey are not to understand everything, but only read to get the answerto certain questions.The other important point that the teacher of a foreign languagehas to keep in mind is that his aim is not to teach specific books butto provide his students with the attitudes and abilities relevant tothe reading of a literary text. According to Icoz, oncethe student has obtained the means of entering the writer’s imaginedworld, the universality of the topics and the relevance to thelearner’s own life events and emotions dealt with in the work willarouse his interest and motivate him.
She also claims that to maintainthis interest and to have pupils participate in an easy discussionof the book, the teacher has to make sure that the communicationbetween him and his students is not one-way. And so the teacher has togive up the traditional way of treating his students as “emptycontainers to be filled by certain knowledge and he has to rememberthat the teacher’s function is to guide, encourage and assiststudents, not to bombard them with information.” (1992)To sum up, I agree with others, as for example Latha, thatthroughout a good reading programme, children should be encouraged tobecome involved in decision making, and the teachers should ensurethat all reading activities are adapted to suit the particularconditions and needs both inside and outsidetheclassrooms.Therefore, teachers can create positive attitudes towards developingreading interests by the usage of a reading programme and withpositive encouragement.