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Reading Comprehension Improvement Strategies Term paper


The use of read-aloud strategy is becoming an increasingly common approach for improving reading comprehension, especially in public elementary schools in Saudi Arabia. This systematic literature review analyzes the extent to which graphic organizers, collaborative reading, peer-assisted learning, story-mapping, self-questioning, read aloud and storytelling strategies improve reading comprehension. It also examines whether large classroom in EFL classes affects language learning, such as learning French as a second language. The read-aloud strategy is essential in children’s vocabulary development and comprehension skills by recording their conversations and writings as they respond to stories. Reading comprehension is a major constituent of reading, but it is a multifaceted process that constitutes of many drivers of learning elements. Winfield (2009) acknowledges the impacts of reading aloud on learners’ reading comprehension. The author defines the complex process of reading comprehension as one that involves readers constructing meaning through interaction with the text. According to Winfield (2009), comprehension is one of the most important skills that learners need to develop for them to become productive and successful in learning. Comprehension instruction has to start at an early age. Winfield (2009) recommends that parents, family members, and friends should read to children to create a positive start before they begin school. Simply put, read aloud strategies improve reading comprehension among students.

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Impacts of Read-Aloud Strategies on Vocabulary Development and Comprehension Skills Among Children
Read-aloud strategies are common and essential in the development of vocabularies and comprehension skills in public elementary schools. Oueini, Bahous, & Nabhani (2008) in regards to the use of this strategy for children’s vocabulary acquisition and comprehension skills focuses on the learning of a second language, specifically French. Accordingly, children learn different subjects in French in rich language environments. According to Oueini et al. (2008), the kindergarten curriculum often combines two approaches; the phonics approach and whole language. Ideally, young learners are helped to read words and sentences using charts, labels, and storybooks (Hazzard, 2016). Instructors also encourage them to write about various topics through the use of inventive spelling to illustrate pictures and portray feeling about different events (Oueini et al., 2008). The read-aloud strategy also involves training children to relate letters to their sounds, segment words, and blend or mix letters to form short words. In Saudi Arabia, this kindergarten curriculum forms the basis for building blocks in all subject areas.

In essence, story reading is not commonly used in the General Studies (GS) classes. The teaching of vocabulary is mainly done by illustrating new words that learners encounter while reading books (Oueini et al., 2008). Teachers also conduct direct teaching of vocabulary through the interpretation of enlarged pictures that neither motivate pupils’ curiosity nor trigger their thinking. This approach of using enlarged pictures concentrates on evoking actions displayed in each picture instead of scrutinizing and synthesizing the ideas. Oueini et al. (2008) also identify story reading as a fundamental approach to offer children with the basic literacy skills necessary to develop and grow fluent readers and independent writers; in other words, it creates a balanced method that incorporates to a variety of reading and writing approaches. Kindergarten is thus the best place or level to assist children to develop as readers and writers as well as prepare them for all reading ability requirements of first grade. Evidently, young pupils who experience difficulties in their development of basic kindergarten literacy skills often fall behind their peers in the primary grade, which underscores the significance of vocabulary acquisitions at this learning level.

Numerous past studies recommend the use of reading aloud as a teaching routine in all classes, especially those that consist of learners with reading difficulties. According to Winfield (2009), instructors can apply different comprehensive approaches in the classroom that will promote comprehension. The author identifies storytelling and read-aloud as among the most significant. The importance of these approaches is recognized in that lack comprehension skills among young learners is the cause of many problems as they grow (Ledger & Merga, 2018). Winfield (2009) points out that comprehension is the reason for reading and offers connotation to the text; in other words, without appropriate comprehension skills, pupils will struggle in the area of reading. Their understanding level will decrease and their capacity to discuss and investigate important concepts as they enter adulthood will be affected.

Saudi Arabia’s elementary schools use a similar standardized basic reader as other parts of the world to teach reading to all pupils in grades 1-6. According to Alshehri (2014), between grade 1 and 3, pupils normally focus on learning to read, whereas, between grades 4-6, they concentrate on reading for comprehension. The reading program in elementary schools in the country concentrates on three key areas; word recognition, acquisition of new words, and comprehension (Alsubaie, 2014). Recent studies recognize that most of the elementary school pupils in Saudi Arabia are not good readers, which adversely impact their academic success (Al-Nafisah, 2011). The major problem in the country is that most teachers are not sure the way forward to assist the children to become good readers (Masadeh, 2015). Researchers have proposed multiple strategies that promote mastery of reading skills. According to Alshehri (2014) and Abahussain (2016), the basic strategies applicable in Saudi Arabia’s elementary schools’ settings include the use of connections, posing questions, and acknowledging the significance of comprehension. The comprehension strategies can also be used by struggling students to understand the contents of books.

Oral Language to Listening Comprehension
Effective oral language and read-aloud are essential in improving children’s comprehension skills. Winfield (2009) illustrates that comprehension skills do not entirely start in classrooms as most people think. The development of such skills is evident as children begin to speak and express themselves orally. As soon as they become careful listeners, children improve their comprehensive capacity of materials at their reading level (Gilakjani & Sabouri, 2016). The development of oral language is regarded as one of the young learners’ most impressive accomplishments, which takes place during the first five years of their life. This underscores the significance of parents speaking and communicating with their children before they start school to prepare them for formal tuition, which promotes comprehension skills. Winfield (2009) notes that facilitating read-aloud in the classroom improves reading comprehension. Teachers who apply read-aloud integrated with modeling and comprehensive instruction included in a story promote understanding. It is important for children to master listening comprehension skills before a teacher can effectively use read-aloud. Effective read-aloud combine structured, interactive instructor, and learner text-based discussions as opposed to normal read-aloud that do not include deliberations (Gilakjani & Sabouri, 2016). Effective classroom read-alouds are aimed at creating opportunities for pupils to reflect on and make connections to the content of texts. Also, they present a perfect teacher-centered strategy for introducing and familiarizing new words.

Reading Comprehension among Students with Learning Disabilities
As noted earlier, reading comprehension is a critical learning skill among learners. The process entails concurrently extracting and building meaning through interaction and engagement with written text. Students with learning disabilities are unable to successfully understand words, which inhibits them from learning, retaining information, and ultimately graduating from school (Nunez, 2016). Such limitations adversely impact various aspects of their lives. According to Almutairi (2018), reading problems have adverse impacts on the schoolchildren’s self-esteem, capacity for instructive progress, career choices, and attitudes towards learning. Learners with reading difficulties require assistance to overcome the problems, which often prevent them from literacy success (Heo, 2016). Young pupils in lower-level elementary grades are most affected as most of their studies and curriculum focus on learning to read, whereas beyond that level curriculums are based on reading to learn. Therefore, failing to help students with reading disabilities at this level will have effects in their adult lives. According to Almutairi (2018), pupils who fail to master the art of reading to learn by the time they finish third grade, they will never learn to read effectively and will experience more difficulties and perform less than their peers in curricular knowledge. Thus, it is essential to identify struggling readers during their early grades and offer the necessary and most appropriate reading strategies.

Impacts of Teacher’s Storytelling Aloud on the Reading Comprehension
Reading is an essential language skill, which is highly intricate that every individual must learn. According to Al-Mansour & Al-Shorman (2011), reading is a combination of a variety of skills and progressions in which the readers interact text for content and at other times the pleasure. Some students find it cumbersome to read as they envision the long hours that they take to read a certain chapter or an entire book (Hemmati, Gholamrezapour, & Hessamy, 2015; Walch, 2016). It becomes worse when students spend a lot of time reading but fail to comprehend the content of the text. Al-Mansour & Al-Shorman (2011) point out that most EFL learners do not understand a written text effectively; based on this, teachers often prefer storytelling aloud to stimulate and inspire them to read and progress their reading comprehension. The authors note that to date only limited investigation has been conducted on the impacts of storytelling on learning. Reading aloud forms the basis for literacy development and demonstrates the connection between printed text and meaning, which invites the listener into a dialog with the author. Studies illustrate that young students can listen on a higher language level as compared to read, which means that reading aloud makes multifaceted notions more accessible and exposes them to new words and language patterns. In turn, it assists them to comprehend the structure of texts when reading independently.

Storytelling is being used to improve learners’ oral proficiency in EFL teaching. According to Yan & Zhao (2019), storytelling is an effective strategy for enhancing language learning. A number of recent studies have established a correlation between storytelling and foreign language acquisition among secondary and higher education learners. Yan & Zhao (2019) points out that stories offer an open-source of language communication in classrooms, especially when teaching a foreign language as it stimulates pupils to learn the language in aa accurate and realistic context. Over the past few years, the use of storytelling has been investigated and applied in diverse educational contexts starting from early education to tertiary level with the aim of facilitating students’ language learning, mostly oral proficiency. Application of storytelling in higher education settings is associated with improving university students’ speaking eloquence as it provides them with diverse opportunities to utilize different strategies in the retelling process. Yan & Zhao (2019) illustrates that storytelling has positive effects on the development of oral proficiency among college students.

Class and Pupils Management
Addressing large classes demands a audacious plan to distribute learning resources. According to Hum (2018), the responsibility of improving learners’ performance does not lie entirely on the teachers alone, but encompasses the collaborative efforts of every stakeholder close to the pupil. In large classrooms, some students require additional hours outside the normal school time and can be achieved by including private courses. Additional hours can also be realized through group study, which can take place outside the school. Large classroom learning also requires the establishment of a close relationship between students and teachers. Classroom democracy is an effective strategy for approaching large classes. Studies show that learners prefer being involved in classroom decision-making; for example, deciding the type of subjects they want to learn during a certain period. According to Hum (2018), the implementation of some decisions requires the involvement of students, especially those that reflect on what they have achieved and setting goals, which highlights the significance of learner autonomy (Ayeni & Olowe, 2016). This method can also take in the use of individual schoolroom records in which pupils design and monitor their advancement in school work.

Learning English Foreign Language (EFL) is a challenge in most schools. Applying technology can play an important role in the classroom process. The use of blended learning that involves face-to-face coupled with computer-assisted learning is the best approach to promote EFL learning. This approach provides learners with additional engagement, which helps to solve the difficulty of personal involvement common in large classes. The implementation of this method also assists learners outside the classroom to engage with their lessons. Over the last few years, an increase in the use of the internet as a helping tool has increased (Ayeni & Olowe, 2016). Educators create constructive attitudes and consequences through the implementation of web-based tactics to teach reading. Web-based directions are connected with exciting students’ inquisitiveness since they are novel to the instructive world.

Improving reading comprehension in public elementary schools in Saudi Arabia is a current and essential strategy to promote learning and academic success. The use of a read-aloud strategy is one of the most common strategy for improving reading comprehension in elementary schools in the country. Other strategies applied to improve reading comprehensions include peer-assisted learning, collaborative reading, graphic organizers, self-questioning, and storytelling. There are also concerns in regards to the effective large classroom language learning. Read-aloud strategies promote the acquisition of new words and comprehension skills. This strategy is also applicable to the learning of a second language. Teachers encourage and help young learners to read works and texts using charts, labels, and storybooks as they are easy to understand and remember; in other words, students retain information more if they use charts, labels, and stories. The use of read-aloud strategies is highly recommended in classes, especially for students with learning disabilities.

Saudi Arabia uses similar standardized basic readers as other countries to teach reading at the elementary level. There is a variance between learning to read and reading for comprehension. Grades 1-3 concentrate on learning to read, whereas grades 4-6 focus on reading to understand. These curriculums are common in many countries; however, the problem with Saudi Arabia is that most students are not good English readers, which adversely impacts their academic success. Comprehension skills are also improved by effective oral language and read-aloud approaches. Parents play an important role in the development of understanding skills before a child joins schools as they make them careful listeners, an ability they apply in school as it increases their capacity to read and understand the content. Reading comprehension among students with learning disabilities is also a critical area that requires improvements. Failure to address reading limitations among such learners ultimately affects their educational progress, career choices, self-esteem, and attitudes towards reading and learning. Instructors are responsible for identifying struggling readers during their early grades and offer the most appropriate reading strategies to improve their comprehension skills. Some teacher often experiences difficulties when dealing with large classes. Normally, large size classes require bolder strategies to deal with the high demand by students in the delivery of learning materials. To do so, teachers and other stakeholders close to the pupils collaborate their efforts to ensure that students have access to necessary materials to achieve academic success.

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