retellings. During the last few years, teachers are discovering that the proliferation of excellent children’s informational literature available today can provide a vehicle for teaching children about exposition. Today’s information books contain wonderful examples of well-written exposition and are ideal for exposing even the youngest children to common expository and argumentative text structures.
To sum up, comprehension of expository and argumentative texts is crucial for academic success due to the learners’ unfamiliarity with these two types of text. In order to improve comprehension, teachers can employ reading strategies in their way of teaching. The relationship between reading strategies and expository, argumentative texts can help teachers and also material developer to familiar students with these types of text.
1.7 Limitation, Delimitation and Assumption
Like any other studies, this research faced some limitations, which have to be taken into consideration while attempting to generalize its findings. At the same time, the researcher deemed it necessary to place a delimitation to extend as much as possible the accuracy of its results.
According to the ILI’s rules, participants were free to fill out the tests. So, some of them did not answer the test due to different reasons. As a result, the total number of participants decreased. Also, only female participants were included in the study as it is against the regulations of Iranian schools for female teachers to have males in their classrooms and the researcher being a female did not have access to male students.
The researcher deliberately chose SILL reading strategies questionnaire (based on An Inventory of Learning Strategies, Oxford, 1990) among other questionnaires, because it is translated both in English and in Persian. Therefore the Persian version was administered to the learners in order to prevent any misunderstanding especially since the participants were from different proficiency levels.
The participants of this study were all teenagers and adults with the age range of 14-30. As the researcher wanted to investigate the relationship between reading strategies and reading comprehension of expository and argumentative texts, she discarded children from her study as they are not yet proficient in reading and comprehending the text type.
It was assumed that all the participants fill out the questionnaire sincerely and attentively. For this reason, the researcher promised to inform them of the result of the questionnaire, and teachers promised an extra class activity point for participants.
Review of the Related Literature
2.1 What is reading
It is apparent that one reads for a wide variety of purposes, thus making any global definition of reading is difficult, if not impossible. Establishing a clear definition of reading provides an important perspective for teaching and evaluating approaches. Most educators would agree that the major purpose of reading should be the reconstruction of meaning from a written text,
Widdowson (1979) had argued that successful reading is an act of creation: the reader creates meaning through interaction. He considers reading not as a reaction to a text but as interaction between writer and reader mediated through the text. Alderson and Urquhart (1984) state that the only certain element in a definition of reading is that there is a reader, writer and a text.
Reading has been defined differently by different people at different times. Reading is defined by scholars as the activity of restructuring a reasonable spoken message from a printed text or as translating from written symbols to a form of language to which the person can already attach meanings (Allen & Corder, 1979). Fries (1963) defines reading as “the process of learning to read in one’s native language is the process of transfer auditory signs for language signals which the child has already learned to the new visual signs for the same signals” (p.63).
In Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, reading is defined as “perceiving a written text in order to understand its content. This can be done silently (silent reading) whose understanding results in reading comprehension” (Richards, Platt & Platt, p. 306).
Widdowson (1979) describes reading as “the process of getting linguistic information via print” (p.103), but Alderson and Urquhart (1984) point out that this is a simplification as it is too all-embracing to be of practical use.
Rivers (1981) asserts that “reading is a most important activity in any language class, not only as a source of information and a pleasurable activity, but also as a means of consolidating and extending one’s knowledge of the language” (p.259).
Reading is a receptive skill during which readers decode the message of the writer and try to recreate it anew. Obviously, readers are deeply involved in mental activities which prove that reading like the other skills is an active process (Rashtchi & Keyvanfar; 2002).
Davies (1995) defines reading as a private activity that “is a mental or cognitive process which involves a reader in trying to follow and respond to a message from a writer who is distant in space and time” (p.1).
In an older definition of reading, drawing on audio-lingual theoretical framework, Paulston & Bruder (1976) state that reading is considered decoding speech written down, a skill which would naturally transfer from a command of the oral skills which are the major focus of audio-lingual programs.
Given the progress made in understanding the nature of the reading process, this mechanistic definition of reading as translation of printed symbols into oral language equivalent seems incomplete. There is widespread agreement that without the activation of relevant prior knowledge by the reader and mixing of that knowledge with the text information, there can be no reading of text.
Ur (1996) defines reading as “reading and understanding”. He further adds that ‘a foreign language learner who says “I can read the words but I do not know what they means’ is not, therefore, reading in this sense. He or she is merely decoding or translating written symbols into corresponding sounds” (p.138). Further, Chastain (1988) defines reading as receptive skill in that the reader is receiving a message from a writer. He further stresses that there is the implication of an active reader who intend upon using background knowledge and skills to recreate the writer’s intended meaning in the description of reading process. Perfetti (1984, pp. 40-41, cited in Chastain, 1988), defines reading as “thinking guided by print”.
Goodman (1973) has taken reading as the process of constructing meaning through a dynamic interaction among 1) the reader’s existing knowledge; 2) the information suggested by the text being read; 3) the context of the reading situation. “The reader, a user of language, interacts with the graphic input as he seeks to reconstruct a message encoded by the writer” (p.64). He (cited in Paulston & Bruder, 1976, p.158) concentrates his total prior experience and learning on the task, drawing on his experiences and concepts he has attained as well as the language competence he has achieved.
In more elaborated terms, Eskey (1988) defines reading comprehension as a constant interaction between bottom-up and top-down processing, each source of information contributing to a comprehensive reconstruction of the meaning of the text. In his model “interactive” refers to the interaction between the information provided by means of top-down analyzing, and bottom-up decoding, both of which depend on certain kinds of prior knowledge and certain kinds of information-processing skills. He views readers as both decoders and good interpreters of texts, their decoding skills becoming more automatic but no less important as their reading skills develop. He defines reading comprehension as a constant interaction okayed by the incoming data.
Whereas top-down processing occurs as the system makes general predictions based on higher level, general schemata and then searches the input for information to fit into these partially satisfied, higher order schemata (Carrel & Eisterhold, 1988).
2.1.1 Importance of Reading
Most scholars would agree that reading is one of the most important skills for educational and professional success (Alderson, 1984). In highlighting the importance of reading comprehension Rivers (1981) stated that “reading is the most important activity in any language class, not only as a source of information and a pleasurable activity, but also as a means of consolidating and extending one’s knowledge of the language” (p.259).
According to Thorndike (1917) the role of the reader is not a passive one, simply
recording the knowledge contained exclusively in the text, but that of an active participator or
problem solver. Thorndike concluded that:
In educational theory, then, we should not consider the reading of a
text-book or reference as a mechanical or passive, undiscriminating
task, on a totally different level from the task of evaluating or using
what is read. While the work of judging and applying doubtless
demands a more elaborate and inventive organization and control
of mental connections, the demands of mere reading are also for
the active selection which is typical of thought. It is not a small or
unworthy task to learn “what the book says”. (Thorndike, 1917a, p.332)
Rivers (1981) further asserts that justification for an emphasis on the development of the reading skill is not hard to find, since in many countries languages are learnt by students