diciembre 2016 - mayo 2017
ISSN 2007-5480


Theory in the English Reading Comprehension as a Foreign language in an advanced level at UAM-Azcapotzalco

Lucila Mendoza Reyes *
Guillermina Bolaños Huerta **


La presente investigación está basada en la “Teoría del proceso de aprendizaje” para mejorar las habilidades de lectura de los estudiantes en comprensión de lectura. Uno de los objetivos más importantes de la materia de inglés en un nivel avanzado es ayudar a que los alumnos adquieran conocimientos, habilidades y actitudes con el fin de mejorar su comprensión de lectura la cual les permitirá leer y entender cualquier texto en inglés.


The present investigation is supported by “The Theory in the learning process” to improve the students’ reading skills to get a perspective on the practice of Reading Comprehension. One of the main objectives of the English subject in an advanced level is to help the students to acquire: knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to improve their reading comprehension which makes them to be able to read and understand any text in English

Palabras clave

Comprensión de lectura, proceso interactive, estrategias de lectura.


Reading Comprehension, interactive process, reading strategies.



The theory of English in Reading Comprehension as a foreign language in an advanced level is necessary for designing and teaching the student Community, because they had a global vision. That means, they are trying to figure out what is going on around the world related to their career. There is a necessity of understanding the written language for different purposes. One of the main objectives of the English subject in an advanced level at UAM-Azc is to help the students to acquire: knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to improve their reading comprehension which makes them to be able to read and understand any text in English.

The present investigation is supported by The Theory in the learning process to improve the students’ reading skills to get perspective into the practice of Reading Comprehension.

Reading Comprehension

The theory pretends to represent that the rate of reading is constant and that the accuracy of comprehension during reading can be predicting from a measure of material difficulty and individual ability. According to Lee Van Patten (1994:189) reading comprehension is “to comprehend or take in the meaning, something written or printed”. Therefore, every person who reads has a purpose. This means, they look for a general idea (skimming); something specific (scanning), just for pleasure (receptive reading) or something for an investigation or a carefully reading (intensive reading).


Since the 60’s reading comprehension was valuable in the oral language, under the influence of the audio-linguistic who centered the reading comprehension, to reinforce grammar and vocabulary. (Grabe 1991: 376). However, due to the different point of views, audio-linguistic vision of reading comprehension reveals two forms: a) relating the institutional academic needs of a second language and, b) in the change of the 70’s of the reading comprehension concept emerges the psycholinguistic of Goodman model (1967, 1985) and Smith (1971, 1979, 1982) (Grabe 1991:376). In the same period, (Grabe 1991:377) typify reading comprehension as an active process of comprehension, where the students need to learn strategies to achieve a better knowledge of the reading. So, there are two important approaches that try to explain how the foreign language reader processes reading based on analogous foundations of student´s mother tongue.

The first one, The Component Skills Approach, focuses on six important points to consider in order to help the reader’s comprehension:

The second one is the Interactive Approach that combines three model processes:

On the other hand, to achieve the comprehension of a reading, the linguistic knowledge and the schema-theory has to interact and it is from the Interactive Model of Reading Comprehension, where Lee Van Patten (1994) makes reference of the schema-theory, which let new interactive models to the understanding of the reading comprehension. Van Patten (1994:190), point out that this process consists in several knowledges represented in different levels the linguistic representations such as: letters, clusters, lexical, syntactic and semantic knowledge.

These components shouldn’t be apart. They should interact with each other.

Interactive Model of Reading Comprehension

Reading as an interactive process

At the end of the seventies, psycholinguistic and cognitive psychologist advances set the reading theory as a group of abilities. The interactive theory emerges. This theory encourages the reader to use his previous knowledge to interact with the text and build a meaning. Kenneth Goodman (1982) is the leader of this psycholinguistic model and according to him:

Due to the complexity of process should ensure that the reader understands the text and can build ideas about content by extracting what student is interested in. The student must have the opportunity to ask questions, decide what is important and what is secondary. The process is divided into three threads to know:

As soon as the student is reading an academic text, the reader recreates the meaning of the text, together with the author. In other words, readers negotiate the meaning with the author by applying their prior knowledge to it. Understanding the context helps students to understand the background, environment, and circumstances in which the author wrote the text. Teachers in each discipline need to teach the general analytical tools and the discipline specific values, and strategies that facilitate disciplinary reading and learning. The type of instruction that a student receives will also affect reading comprehension. Strategies for improving reading comprehension must be taught directly by educators, because reading without comprehension or understanding is not reading.

Importance of strategies

There are some strategies that the students can learn and apply in order to improve the comprehension on their reading; this will help them to achieve a new level of understanding and appliance on any branch. Reading Strategies such as:

Before Reading strategy

Before having your students talk about a major topic, it's essential to activate their background knowledge about it. One way to do this is the ABC Brainstorm. The idea is simple. Students try to think of a word or phrase associated with the topic, matched to each letter of the alphabet. An anticipation guide consists of a list of statements that are related to the topic of the text your students will be reading. While some of the statements may be clearly true or false, a good anticipation guide includes statements that provoke disagreement and challenge students’ beliefs about the topic. Before reading the text, students indicate for each statement whether they agree or disagree with it. Write several statements that focus on the topic of the reading. It means:

Using this pre-reading activity, teachers ask students to examine together the title of the selection they are about to read. Students might work in pairs or groups to list everything that comes to mind from reading the title. The teacher can list on the board all or some of the information students “brainstorm” from reading the title. These pieces of information are used to recall background knowledge (what students already know about the topic). These pieces of information also are used to prepare for making connections to new knowledge as students continue with the text. The purpose of the strategy is to help build background information when students are going to read about something they know very little about so that when they read a selection, they will be more successful and have a context for understanding the ideas presented. Class discussions and informal talks in and out of class all serve as techniques to discover more about what students bring to their reading. Over a period of time, teachers can begin to get some idea as to what their students know and can adjust how much time needs to be spent on background information. This activity has four components:

While Reading Strategy

The teacher may:

Students, with some help from the teacher, may:

While reading students can predict what they think will happen next, based on what they have read so far and on their personal background knowledge. After reading, they can confirm whether their predictions were accurate. Predictive questioning helps students to connect earlier with the text and really understand what they are reading.

After Reading Strategy

The teacher may:

Students, with some help from the teacher, may:

After reading, the teacher asks students to find and read aloud any part of the text that supports their predictions. Students must use the text to explain their reasoning and to prove the accuracy-or inaccuracy-of their predictions.

In the practice, some researchers have found that readers who receive explicit instruction in these strategies make significant achieves on reading comprehension tests. These strategies include setting purposes for reading, making predictions, monitoring reading and realizing when something is not making sense, questioning during reading, making mental pictures of what is being read and summarizing what is read. Teachers can guide students' interaction with the text by asking questions about literary elements, having students present oral summaries of the plot, or asking them to collect details or write observations on post-it notes. If students have previewed comprehension questions, they can answer these questions as they read; working as guidance from them. So, it could be an effective strategy for the students who have difficulty remembering and writing about what they have read, unconsciously while they are passing the information on a piece of paper, they are keeping the information. Translate it to their own words helping them to understand the idea or the paragraph in a way they can remember easily and more understandable from them. So, it can be assumed that Comprehension is a process that relates the new information with the one that is already store in reader´s memory. the reader gives a meaning in the mind to the scheme-theory.

Function of the scheme-theory from the reader to contribute reading comprehension

Lee Van Patten (1994:193) point out that “for our reading comprehension, the reader scheme-theory has to be active, the conditions have to be flatter to the reader bringing out his knowledge or experiences to the reading comprehension” and, it integrated as the following:

  1. In order to clarify a confusing text, where according to the reading comprehension from the reader gives a definition to a text that can be ambiguous
  2. To develop, where the reader misses certain information and they try to build it up
  3. To filter, each reader takes from the reading what it is from their own scheme
  4. To balance out, the reader compensates linguistic deficits with other strategies in order to understand the text

Developing of reading skills

Strategies are deliberate actions and therefore are available for introspection or conscious report. They may not always be accurate or useful but strategies are identifiable to the agent and to others by intentions and selected goal states. In a sense, strategies are skills under consideration in much the same way that Vygotsky (1978) described “defossilized” actions. We consider task goals, intentions, plans, and expectations for success beforehand or whether we ruminate retrospectively over our past successes and failures with various attributions and rationalizations, our purposes, goals, and actions are being scrutinized. Skills are continuous changes in performance according to various criteria (e.g., speed, accuracy and complexity) that are often judged against normative standards. Strategies are not different actions, they are skills that have been taken from their automatic contexts for closer inspection. Complex skills can be subdivided into components for examination and mastery. Importantly, these “defossilized” skills can be observed by both self and others; they can be shared, debated, and analyzed. Reading strategically is that reading becomes public. Students can analyze and talk about their own behavior. Teachers can isolate component actions to model and evaluate. Sharing knowledge during instruction helps students to understand how and why they should use particular tactics. Discussing, understanding, and applying strategic actions are especially important in three reading situations; during initial learning, for troubleshooting, and when processing capacity is exceeded Academic skills such as reading can profit from the same type of instructions during initial acquisition. As the skill becomes proficient and automatic, most learners do not need to consider various means and goals deliberately. The “strategy” of the means-goal connection must be transferred from teacher to pupil along with the motivation to apply it.

According to Parrott (1993:184), to explore and evaluate various practical techniques and procedures for developing reading skills it is necessary to focus on the following points:

  1. Comprehension and reading aloud
  2. Choice of reading material
  3. Presentation of text
  4. “Extensive” reading

Why is Important Reading Comprehension in an academic level?

Some university students have an undetected reading difficulty, known as a specific reading comprehension deficit. This deficit occurs when working memory doesn’t allow for full comprehension of a text, even if a student can easily read it. But this is not a problem of reading, this just turn out into an understanding issue; how to understand what they are reading. The reason this deficit often goes undetected is that strategies to identify reading difficulties prior to post-secondary education deal mostly with areas of reading ability rather than comprehension. As a student usually tends to overlook the importance of reading the newspaper, be involved in the political and economical issues in the country and around the world.

Theory is an important aspect as well as practice. There is a perspective of some components in the design of an exercise of reading comprehension. It needs to be Pedagogic. The exercise needs to be suitable for supporting the students that are nonnative speakers of the English Language as a foreign Language. The exercise needs to be done with the appropriate length, with proper theme for the students, and level.

For the design of an exercise of reading comprehension the objective must be clear. It needs to be taken into account the following:


Theory in the Reading Comprehension in English as a foreign language is important for teaching university students, because it is a tool in their learning process. They are preparing themselves to become better and qualified in their professions in the global world. They need to have information, some supporting of their arguments with facts and show confidence with their abilities and skills. So, teachers have to work with theory to improve students’ skills in Reading Comprehension with a better level of understanding.


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* Lucila Mendoza Reyes: Profesora investigadora del Departamento de Humanidades de la UAM-Azcapotzalco. Licenciada en Letras Inglesas por la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Maestría en Literatura Comparada por la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Imparte cursos de Español para extranjeros. Certificates for Overseas Teachers of English y Teaching Business English por la Cambridge University. Ha publicado artículos sobre la enseñanza-aprendizaje de lenguas extranjeras.

** Guillermina Bolaños Huerta: Licenciada en Enseñanza de Inglés por la Facultad de Estudios Superiores Acatlán (UNAM). Ha impartido cursos diversos de capacitación en el ámbito laboral e institucional, así como ha participado en la elaboración de exámenes de comprensión de Lectura en Inglés. Ha trabajado en el ámbito laboral en empresas trasnacionales por más de 25 años, llegando a ocupar el cargo de Gerente de Servicio a Ventas. Impartiendo clases de Inglés a adultos, en instituciones como: FES Acatlán, FES Cuautitlán, Universidad Bancaría de México, TecMilenio y UAM-Azcapotzalco; así como también en empresas trasnacionales como: NCH México, Siemex, Tyco y CCEI. (Centro de Capacitación Empresarial de Idiomas).

Reserva de Dererchos-INDAUTOR: 04-2010-060210103400-203
ISSN 2007-5480