Most researches on reading now focus on the effective reading strategies that increase students’ comprehension. Guthrie (1996) argues that most researchers study a single cognitive strategy, rather than conducting a long-term study of multiple strategies. Besides, few studies have addressed the issues related to “motivation” and “engagement”. As Guthrie puts it:
reading is based on motivational and cognitive characteristics of the reader…who is intrinsically motivated, builds knowledge, uses cognitive strategies, and interacts socially to learn from text. These engagement processes can be observed in student’s cognitive effort, perseverance, and self-direction in reading.
It is the teacher’s responsibilities to motivate reading by selecting the appropriate materials and especially for those at the early stages of learning. Guthrie and Humenick performed a meta analysis of studies that manipulated several aspects of intrinsic motivation support for reading.
These findings suggest that “meaningful conceptual content in reading instruction increases motivation for reading and text comprehension.” The second motivation-supporting practice showed that students who were provided choice of text performed higher on reading tasks than those with no choice. The third practice was using interesting texts. This conforms to Hedge’s proposal that in selecting task texts, teachers should seek interesting texts and consider variety of topics. Readers’ interest can be revealed by setting “a reading interest questionnaire” where students check the fields that suit their interest, i.e. short stories, thrillers, science fiction, etc.
Since “each learner will have different strengths to build on and different weaknesses to overcome” (Hedge, p. 205), there is no one defined reading methodology. In her functional approach to reading, Moorman & Ram (1994, p. 646) focus on science fiction genre since “stories offer many opportunities for creative reading”.
Carrell et al (1989, p. 647) conducted a study on two metacognitive strategies, semantic mapping (SM) and the experience-text-relationship (ETR) method, to study their effect on SL reading. In semantic mapping, categories and associations are displayed visually in a diagram.
Carrell argues that besides “being effective for vocabulary development, semantic mapping has proved to be a good alternative to traditional pre-reading and post-reading activities” In fact, most contemporary reading tasks include pre-reading activities. Therefore, I believe pre-reading activities can be followed by SM strategy since the former aim at increasing learners' motivation. While semantic mapping is used as a tool to assess students’ schema, the experiencetext-relationship (ETR) method emphasizes comprehension, i.e., reading for meaning. This method is based on discussion aimed at linking what the reader already knows to what he/she will encounter in the text. It has essentially three simple steps: experience, text, and relationship.