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Reading Rights and Responsibilities

TitleReading Rights and Responsibilities
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMulalic, A, Cemanovic, N
JournalPinnacle Educational Research & Development ISSN: 2360-9494
Start Page420
Date PublishedDecembar, 2014
Type of ArticleBook chapter review


The authors of the reviewed chapter, Eve Bearne and Gabrielle Cliff Hodges, tackle upon reading rights as a basic principle of an individual, often neglected by the scholars. That principle should be the moving force of the entire teaching/learning process because if those rights are respected and implied then both the teacher and school system can more easily render motivation which is the primary factor in student's achievement. Teachers can motivate their students in various ways and meta-language is one of them. By reflecting upon Bearne and Hodges's article, this review will account for the importance of teaching/learning reading and it will provide suggestions for fostering motivation in classes focused on reading.

Full Text

According to a new study published by the Suton and Durham
University in the UK, there should be more effort put into
examining the efficiency of particular methods used in
teaching of reading (Adams n.p.). Reading is not only a crucial
skill in mastering a second and/or foreign language, it is also
essential in improving L1 no matter how basic it sounded.
Many teachers neglect the importance of this language
component placing emphasis on irrelevant issues such as
pronunciation if not even accent. They insist on students'
accent and they force them to read out loud forgetting that it
may harm their initial understanding of the text and that it
may consume their energy in vain. The study also indicated
that more traditional styles in teaching reading were
favorable compared to the modern ones such as ''discovery
learning'' where students are expected to unravel key ideas
all by themselves (Adams n.p.). Still, different teaching styles
work in different contexts and since there is no universal rule
for teaching reading it is absurd to claim that there is a single
all-encompassing method or formula: "There is no one
method, medium, approach, device or philosophy that holds
the key to the process of reading" (DES 1975 qtd. in Bearne
and Hodges, 2000).
However, there are certain issues that can be considered in
detail and observed in a universal context in order to find out
more about the importance of reading for both the student
and the teacher and to explore "fruitful ways of teaching
reading" (Bearne and Hodges, 2000). One of those issues is
the rights and responsibilities of reading. This essay will
review the first chapter, "Reading Rights and
Responsibilities," in the book Issues in English Teaching.
The authors of the chapter, Eve Bearne and Gabrielle Cliff
Hodges, tackle upon reading rights as a basic principle of an
individual, often neglected by the scholars. That principle
should be the starting point and the moving force of the entire
teaching/learning process because if those rights are
respected and implied then both the teacher and school
system can more easily foster the motivation and
commitment. The reader is not only a learner i.e. student but
also an individual who "makes choices according to
inclination as well as need" (Bearne and Hodges, 2000).
Nowadays, as teaching methods and school systems evolve,
teachers are expected to create space for individual students'
needs and preferences, but space for learners to employ their
right to choose should also be insisted upon (Bearne and
Hodges, 2000).
The goal of every dedicated teacher should be to nurture
critical thinking in his or her students. The authors postulate
that "the principle of fostering avid, committed and critical
readers can only be realized in practice if students are
motivated" (Bearne and Hodges, 2000). Motivation is crucial
in teaching anything especially reading because not all
students are excited about reading lessons. The study of
students' motivation has been in focus of the SLA research
and applied linguistics for more than four decades. The reason
for that is its complex nature and inevitable impact on the
student's success (Dörnyei 1994). Gardner (1985) created a
stepping stone in the research of learner's motivation. He
defined motivation as "the extent to which the individual
works or strives to learn the language because of a desire to
do so and the satisfaction experienced in this activity"
(Gardner 1985). Other notable scholars like Dörnyei, Crookes
and Schmidt agreed upon Gardner's finding that motivation
Pinnacle Educational Research & Development ISSN: 2360-9494 Page 2
How to Cite this Article: Prof. Dr. Almasa Mulalic & Ms. Nedla Cemanovic "Article Review: “Reading Rights and Responsibilities” by Eve Bearne and Gabrielle
Cliff Hodges in the book Issues in English Teaching, edited by Jon Davison and John Moss (2000)" Pinnacle Educational Research & Development ISSN: 2360-
9494, Vol. 2 (7), 2014, Article ID perd_159, 420-422, 2014.
influences student's achievement but they criticized his
socio-educational model for not concentrating enough on the
learning context. Thus, Dörnyei (1994) constructed a new
model of defining motivation that consists of three
motivational components: a) language level, b) learner level,
and c) learning situational level. Evidently, the teacher as the
facilitator and the primary factor of the learner's context
cannot be neglected in arousing motivation in students. This
is applicable to reading lessons as well. Thus, if the teacher
manages to render this motivation, the student will learn to
read with in-depth analysis and understanding, both of which
are elements of a critical thinker. The teacher can motivate
his/her students by carefully selecting the material and even
if the material is sometimes uninteresting, the teaching
method can bring it closer to the student. For instance, they
can create role plays for students after reading drama pieces,
which will actively engage students in the process, they can
tell them to draw their impressions of the text, they can ask
them to write a similar story, etc. By assessing the capacities
and needs of their students, teachers can tailor their
approaches and open the door for an entirely different
experience of learning how to read i.e. understand a text.
Furthermore, teaching reading should be of extreme
importance not only in an ESL classroom but at home with
the primary teachers i.e. parents. Parents as teachers of
reading are of high relevance, namely because they provide a
basis for the child especially in an implicit, indirect manner.
There are many assumptions about reading at home and many
teachers and scholars have divided opinions about it. Some
of them consider comics, newspapers, computer texts, and
father's "evening gazette" harmful for the learner whereas
some believe that those so called "impoverished" texts can be
taken advantage of. We should not take that type of reading
for granted because reading is too broad a term and it includes
everything that a learner gets hold of. Teachers can use their
students' habits of reading at home in a positive way and
should count them as reading. This way, they can encourage
their students to read as much as they can and to observe
every matter with a critical eye. This is logical because reading
is a right and a choice of the individual and teachers should
not take away its pleasures. The more the students are
discouraged to read magazines, computer texts, ''shallow''
newspapers the more will their reluctance to read the
required school reading rise. It is important to take into
account what our students read outside school so that we can
create a curriculum with more precision and accuracy.
Information from various surveys displayed in this chapter
reveals that 'cineliteracy' obtains increasing significance in
the students' reading: "We need to expand our concept of
reading so that we can teach pupils to be critical readers of
all sorts of text - fiction, fact and the communication media"
(Spratt and Sturdy qtd. in Bearne and Hodges, 2000). We
cannot pretend that the soap dialogue or the visual language
of advertisement does not exist. They indeed do and they are
shaping our students' minds. In order to keep up with the
technological age, we need to tailor our approach to students
of reading in the most precise and dedicated manner placing
emphasis on the moral values of the content we are teaching.
When we talk about moral values, the texts we read are its
sources and the teachers are there to extract and indoctrinate
them. There lies the responsibility of reading. What the
students read is what will shape their psyche and ethical
reasoning. This is where the teacher plays the crucial role
because reading within the school system is inevitably
political. Students are assigned the reading tasks and they are
expected to respond to them. Initially, it may seem that they
are given the freedom to resonate on their own. However, as
the reader develops his reading competence, his reading
conscience is being developed by what he reads. This is why
home reading should never be neglected. There should be a
moral awareness of both the system and the teacher, an
awareness that creates a balance between what is ethically
acceptable and what the student finds pleasure in as long as
it does not violate the rights of others. We do not want to
create robots but insightful, critical thinkers with an
unrestricted imaginative spirit.
Teachers can achieve this balance by using meta-language to
prompt readers to talk about their reading experience. Metalanguage,
in its broad term, refers to "a specialized form of
language or set of symbols used when discussing or describing
the structure of a language" (Cambridge Dictionaries Online).
Using meta-language, teachers can instigate learners to reflect
upon their reading strategies and eventually, the purpose of
the very act of reading. Meta-language provides a separate
discourse that brings the discussion of the text beyond itself,
it develops a new layer of understanding that enables the
reader to contextualize his reading habits and gain control
over his reading process. Meta-language (i.e. talking about
reading) can raise awareness of the significance of reading, it
can help learners discuss a text from a critical point of view.
Fostering meta-language activities incites interaction and
provides a direct insight into the reader's habits, preferences,
and interests. By having this source of "rich material," the
teachers can "construct different frameworks for teaching
rather than leaving us to attempt to fit everything into a single
model" (Bearne and Hodges, 2000). The authors of this article
demonstrate that one of the ways of using meta-language are
reading-journals which help the student develop an "internal
and independent dialogue" (Bearne and Hodges, 2000). They
are valuable because they train readers to reflect upon a text
with an individual approach that has no right or wrong
qualities. The reader learns that s/he can observe a text in
his/her own way and this will set a basis for later, serious
work in his/her education. Reading-journals disclose a note
of gradual development of the reader and his/her ideas and
opinions. The reader will feel that his/her account matters
and it will help him/her build self-confidence and thus
encourage him/her to read more than s/he used to. This will
pave the way for the learner to involve his imagination into
the process of interpreting someone else's imaginative work.
S/he will learn both to be a critical thinker and a free-minded
individual with capacities and freedom to interpretation.
Lankshear (1997) provides a resumé of the importance of
meta-level knowledge in the best possible manner:
It is more than merely knowing how (i.e. being able) to
engage successfully in a particular discursive practice.
Rather, meta-level knowledge is knowing about the
nature of that practice, its constitutive values and
Pinnacle Educational Research & Development ISSN: 2360-9494 Page 3
beliefs, its meaning and significance, how it relates to
other practices. (Lankshear et al., 1997 qtd. in Bearne
and Hodges 2000).
By writing about the text, the student is encouraged to:
"predict, reconsider earlier reading, to write questions that
they want the text to answer for them at a later stage, and to
be explicit about how they are drawing on their own social,
cultural or intertextual experiences in order to make sense of
what they are reading" (Bearne and Hodges, 2000).
The writers of this chapter also observe the issue of gender
in the reading process. It is as complex as any other aspect of
the subject. Elaine Millard researched the gender difference
as a factor in reading practice among secondary-school
students and she derived a conclusion that three reasons
stand out: "cultural attitudes, reading material, and the way
in which the reading is conducted in the classroom" (Bearne
and Hodges, 2000). In my view, all three reasons are actually
a product of socio-cultural mindsets because they are the ones
that create difference in the reading achievement along the
gender line. Similarly, Caroline Daly, in her research that
investigated reading behavior of Year 9 students, concluded,
"boys as well as girls know well how to act like a reader" (qtd.
in Bearne and Hodges, 2000). Nevertheless, the issue remains
complex and no matter how much we tried to blur the
differences and create universal reading material that would
attract both sexes, it is inevitable that boys and girls do not
have similar interests when it comes to reading topics.
Conclusively, it is important to highlight that teachers should
not treat reading as merely a language skill but as a right, a
responsibility, and a choice in itself. It is a part of our life that
distinguishes us as human and that is why we need to
approach reading as a "delicate business that requires finely
tuned instruments to record and assess progress and
development" (Bearne and Hodges, 2000). Shaping a young,
fragile mind is undoubtedly contextualized in teaching of
reading and if we neglect it, we risk ruining a potential that
lies in every student.
Works Cited
1. Adams, Richard. "Education study finds in favour of traditional
teaching styles." The Guardian. N.p. 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 1 Nov.
2. Bearne, E., & Hodges, G. C. (2000). "Reading Rights and
Responsibilities." U J. Davison, & J. Moss, Issues in English
Teaching. New York: Routledge.
3. Cambridge Dictionaries Online. English definition of
"metalanguage." (December 2014). 2014. Cambridge University
4. Dörnyei, Z. (1994). Motivation and motivating in the foreign
language classroom. Modern Language Journal, 78, 273-284.
JSTOR. Web. 3 Dec 2014.
5. Gardner, R.C. (1985). Social Psychology and Language Learning:
the Role of Attitudes and Mot