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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


LE CORDEUR, Michael. The interactive approach to reading instruction: an alternative to traditional ways of teaching reading. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2010, vol.50, n.1, pp.104-118. ISSN 2224-7912.

Recent literacy results show that only 15% of all grade 3 learners and less than 10% of all grade 6 learners performed at an appropriate level (WCED 2009). According to education specialists the results of these tests show that we do not practise quality teaching (Bloch 2009). Many researchers argue that the problem starts in the foundation phase where learners fail to acquire the basic skills in literacy (Jansen 2008; Yeld 2009). This article wil focus on one of the possible reasons for the deterioration of literacy in South Africa despite considerable efforts by die Education Department to rectify the situation. The didactics used by teachers when teaching reading will be investigated as we believe that this aspect is one of the main reasons for the poor literacy results. Focus will be placed on the methodologies used by teachers in most schools, as it is believed that they rely mainly on the traditional approach of teaching reading. The article will argue that teachers need to change the way they think about teaching reading. The methodologies of teaching reading and the role of the teacher in this process will be described in a framework according to the schema-model. This is followed by a discussion of the traditional way of teaching reading according to the bottom-up and the top-down approaches. As opposed to the traditional bottom-up or top-down approaches an interactive approach is recommended. The article also gives a framework of what learners should be taught and assessed on within the interactive model. Although individual teachers can inspire their students to great achievements, the needs of the nation's huge number of poor readers call for systemic change. Low levels of adolescent literacy is not a problem that can be solved in isolation with some extra tutoring or supplementary programmes for those unable to read well - it will take a concerted nationwide policy and an execution thereof that reaches deep into districts and the instructional practices of teachers across the curriculum. Change must occur at the classroom level, as well as at the school, district and government levels. It is only through both a change in perspective - by looking for new ways to teach reading - and a change in practice - where all teachers regard themselves as reading teachers - that we will be able to make a sustained difference in the lives of struggling readers. The paper concludes therefore that with the interactive model we can improve the performance of most struggling readers (Albright & Luke 2008).

Keywords : literacy; illiterate learners; teaching reading; schema-theory; schemata; traditional bottom-up or top-down approaches; interactive model of reading; phonics; word recognition skills; holistic interpretation; decoding.

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