Reading comprehension questions: the distribution of different types in global EFL textbooks

Book chapter


Freeman, D. 2014. Reading comprehension questions: the distribution of different types in global EFL textbooks. in: Harwood, N. (ed.) English Language Teaching Textbooks: Content, Consumption, Production Hampshire Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 72-110
AuthorsFreeman, D.
EditorsHarwood, N.
Abstract

This chapter presents research into the types of questions and tasks that accompany the reading texts in global EFL textbooks. In essence, the rationale for undertaking such an investigation is the crucial role reading and questions play both in learning per se and language learning in particular and the still dominant place textbooks hold in many classrooms.

I have identified the different types of comprehension questions and tasks in textbooks and created a taxonomy which consists of two tiers: the first tier represents pre-reading question-types and is composed of five different types and the second tier, which will be the focus of this chapter, represents post-reading comprehension and task question-types (comp-qs). The latter, the comp-q-types, comprises eight different question types and these are grouped into three categories, Content, comprising three question-types spanning lower to higher order thinking; Language, comprising three question-types, not hierarchical; and Affect, two question-types, one lower order and the other higher order. I then apply this taxonomy to the questions and tasks accompanying the readings in four series of global intermediate-level EFL textbooks, each of which has undergone at least one revised edition: Cutting Edge (Cunningham & Moor 1998, 2005) English File (Oxenden & Latham-Koenig 1999, 2006), Headway (Soars & Soars 1986, 1996, 2003, 2009) and Inside Out (Kay & Jones 2000, 2009). I have considered the distribution of the question-types in terms of frequency, which measures how many of each question-type is asked; in terms of their occurrence, which measures which question-types are present or not in a given reading, regardless of how many times they appear; and their range, which measures how many different question-types there are in any given text, edition or series: that is, how many out of the eight possible comprehension question-types are used, irrespective of how many of each type, or which type.

The results contain a combination of the expected – the existence of very basic, lower order questions – and the perhaps less anticipated – the proportion of questions that promote higher order thinking and linguistic skills. Across all ten textbooks in the study, the most widely used comprehension question-types are those that require inferential comprehension, although different series demonstrate their own preferences.

In order to provide an informed discussion regarding these results, I held semi-structured interviews with the writers and editors of the series in this study. This has allowed me to gain an insight into the approaches and priorities these writers have when they are creating the reading skills elements of their textbooks.

KeywordsReading Comprehension Questions; global EFL textbooks coursebooks
Page range72-110
Year2014
Book titleEnglish Language Teaching Textbooks: Content, Consumption, Production
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Output statusPublished
Place of publicationHampshire
ISBN9781137276308
Publication dates
Print2014
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Jul 2019
References

Alexander, Olwyn. (2009). Retrieved 18 Dec 2012, 2012, from http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2009/forum/future-course-book
Allwright, Richard L. (1981). What do we want teaching materials for? . Elt Journal, 36(1), 5-18.
Armbruster, Bonnie, & Ostertag, Joyce. (1993). Questions in elementary science and social studies textbooks. In B. K. Britton, A. Woodward & M. R. Binkley (Eds.), Learning from textbooks: theory and practice. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Barrett, Thomas, C. (unpublished paper) Taxonomy of cognitive and affective dimensions of reading comprehension in Clymer (1968)
Bereiter, Carl, & Scardamalia, Marlene. (1993). Surpassing ourselves: an inquiry into the nature and implications of expertise. Illinois: Open Court Press.
Block, David. (1991). Some thoughts on DIY materials design. ELT Journal, 45(3), 211-217. doi: 10.1093/elt/45.3.211
Bloom, Benjamin S, Engelhart Max D, Furst Edward J, H, Hill Walker, & R, Krathwohl David. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of education goals handbook 1: cognitive domain. New York: David McKay.
Cabaroglu, Nese, & Roberts, Jon. (2000). Development in student teachers' pre-existing beliefs during a 1-year PGCE programme. System, 28(3), 387-402. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(00)00019-1
Carton, Aaron S. (1971). Inferencing: a process in using and learning language. In P. P & Q. T (Eds.), The psychology of second language learning (pp. 45-58). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clymer, T. (1968). What is reading? Some current concepts In H. M. Robinson (Ed.), Innovation and change in reading instruction: the sixty-seventh yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education Part II Illinois: University of Chicago Press.
Cunningham, Sarah, & Moor, Peter. (1998). Cutting Edge intermediate. Harlow: Longman.
Cunningham, Sarah, & Moor, Peter. (2005). New Cutting Edge Intermediate 2nd Edition. Harlow: Longman.
Day, Richard R, & Park, Jeong-suk. (2005). Developing reading comprehension questions. Reading in a foreign language, 17(1), 60-73.
Guszak, Frank J. (1967). Teacher questioning and reading. The Reading Teacher, 21, 227-234.
Holm, Sture. (1979). A Simple Sequentially Rejective Multiple Test Procedure. Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, 6(2), 65-70. doi: 10.2307/4615733
Johnson, Keith. (2003). Designing Language Teaching Tasks. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kay, Sue, & Jones, Vaughan. (2000). Inside Out Intermediate. London: Macmillan.
Kay, Sue, & Jones, Vaughan. (2009). New Inside Out Intermediate. London: Macmillan.
Kuzborska, Irena. (2011). Links between teachers’ beliefs and practices and research on reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 23(1), 102-128.
Littlejohn, Andrew Peter. (1992). Why are English Language Teaching materials the way they are? Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Lancaster, Lancaster.
Meara, Paul. (2002). The rediscovery of vocabulary. Second Language Research, 18(4), 393-407. doi: 10.1191/0267658302sr211xx
Nation, ISP. (1979). The curse of the comprehension question: Some alternatives. Guidelines, 2, 85-103.
Nuttall, Christine. (1982). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language. London: Heinemann.
Nuttall, Christine. (1996). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language (2nd Ed). London: Macmillan.
OUP. (2006). The story of Headway. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Oxenden, Clive, & Latham-Koenig, Christina. (1999). English File 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Oxenden, Clive, & Latham-Koenig, Christina. (2006). New English File Intermediate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pearson, P David, & Johnson, Dale D. (1978). Teaching reading comprehension. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Richards, Jack C. (2006). Materials development and research—making the connection. RELC Journal, 37(1), 5-26.
Richards, Jack C, & Rodgers, Theodore S. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sanders, Norris M. (1966). Classroom questions: What kinds? New York: Harper & Row
Smith, Richard. (2012). IATEFL Research SIG: Online article discussion of Tomlinson B (2012) Materials development for language learning and teaching. Language Teaching Vol 42/2:143-179 Retrieved 25 May 2012, 2012, from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/resig/messages
Smith, Richard John, & Barrett, Thomas C. (1974). Teaching reading in the middle grades. Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Soars, Liz, & Soars, John. (1983). Headway Intermediate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Soars, Liz, & Soars, John. (1996). New Headway Intermediate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Soars, Liz, & Soars, John. (2003). Headway Intermediate 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Soars, Liz, & Soars, John. (2009). Headway Intermediate 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tsui, Amy BM. (2003). Understanding expertise in teaching: case studies of second language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Waters, Alan. (2012). Trends and issues in ELT methods and methodology. ELT Journal, 66(4), 440-449.

Permalink -

https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8906q/reading-comprehension-questions-the-distribution-of-different-types-in-global-efl-textbooks

  • 8
    total views
  • 0
    total downloads
  • 1
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Identifying potential predictors of traumatic reactions to psychotic episodes
Chisholm, B., Freeman, D. and Cooke, A. 2006. Identifying potential predictors of traumatic reactions to psychotic episodes. British Journal of Clinical Psychology. 45 (4), pp. 545-559. https://doi.org/10.1348/014466505X90136