Reading comprehension, world knowledge and acquisition of new information

Reading comprehension, world knowledge and acquisition of new information

Reading comprehension, world knowledge and acquisition of new information

How do we comprehend the information we are reading?

World knowledge is an essential component of reading comprehension. Every text takes for granted the readers’ familiarity with a whole range of unspoken and unwritten facts about the cultural and natural worlds. A well-educated 12th-grader knows an enormous number of words, mostly learned incidentally.

Reading requires the reader to make inferences that depend on prior world knowledge contextualized. That means that to understand what the person is reading he/she must know how his/her schema (an active organization of past reactions, or past experiences), functions in the process of interpreting new information. When someone says that he has understood or comprehended a text, it means that this new information has interacted with the old world knowledge. Then two things may happen. On the one hand the person could have found a new “mental home” for this new information, or on the other hand, this new information could have modified the previous existing model.

Do we really need reading comprehension?

Reading comprehension is something more than just reading a book for simply pleasure. It is actually a resource for our daily life. Therefore it is important to ensure that our pupils achieve an adequate level of reading comprehension. In order to achieve our goals, we must be open-mined on how we teach and how we use different resources. Especially, the ones with which we motivate our pupils, and help them to acquire a good level of reading comprehension. The main goal is not just reading a text and answering some questions. It is more than that. The aim of reading comprehension is to understand any kind of reading; like a leaflet, an advertisement, jobs requirements, instructions for games or electronic devices… In short, it is a necessary mechanism for our day to day.

Crosswords: a strategy to improve reading comprehension

A good strategy could be the use of crosswords because even though it is a game that requires at least a good world knowledge of lexical and semantics, you are supposed to acquire it through reading. Furthermore, trying to solve a quiz it is a motivating activity that can make pupils try to do their best. We must use different kind of resources to help different ways of learning, which does not mean we have to avoid reading texts. As long as children improve solving crosswords they will also improve on reading comprehension. And at the same time, they will be sharpening their reading comprehension skills during the process.

Although we could think that reading is the best way of learning, do you think that using other ways of reading could help kids to discover the pleasure of reading?

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