Rabu, 07 Oktober 2020

The Fundamental Competencies of Reading

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When teaching reading, some teachers ask their students just to read aloud. In this activity, the aspect of information getting from the text may be little ignored. Some other teachers just focused on understanding the information from the text. They asked the students to read the text silently. Both teachers were only doing one aspect of the fundamental competencies in reading. The fundamental competencies in reading are decoding, comprehension, and response.

A. Decoding

In reading, decoding generally means altering printed language to spoken language whether it understood or not, and whether it is converted to overt, oral speech or to covert, inner speech. In decoding, it is producing the spoken analog of the printed language but not necessarily the thought analog. 

1. Phonics 

Phonic decoding usually be done through 'sound it out' at the level of individual letters or simple letter combinations. The basis of phonics is the knowledge about the way graphemes stand for phonemes. A grapheme is the smallest unit in a written language, a letter of the alphabet in alphabetic languages. English has 26 letters. A phoneme is the smallest unit in a spoken language. English has approximately 44 phonemes, although there is some disagreement about the number. 

2. Structural analysis

In structural analysis, words can be broken down into units larger than individual graphemes and phonemes. They can be, syllable analysis, phrase analysis and clause/sentence analysis. These are the basis of structural analysis.

3. Sight vocabulary

Another way word is decoded is “automatically” as wholes, without the analysis and synthesis involved in phonics and structural analysis. Some words don’t easily lend themselves to analysis. Many everyday words deviate at least in part from common phonics patterns—for example, done, gone, none, the, of, are, have, come, were, what, been, know, and there. Such words become so familiar that they are recognized instantly, like old friends. The students’ competence in sight vocabulary is determined by their vocabulary mastery.

4. Context 

Context in decoding involves the use of our intuitive knowledge of grammar and meaning. Context often serves to limit what a word might be, but in some cases, it actually determines what a word is. Context also serves a kind of reciprocal relationship with phonics, structural analysis, and sight words.

5. Dictionary 

Dictionaries provide all the information necessary for proper decoding: pronunciations, grammatical classes, meanings, morphemes, common variations, and so on. Of course, a general degree of reading ability and some specialized skills are needed for effective dictionary use, but dictionaries and glossaries at different reading levels are widely available and a variety, including picture dictionaries, are usually found in schools.

B. Comprehension

If decoding is saying something, comprehension is understanding something, getting its meaning. This is the second fundamental competency of reading, and the central one. Whereas decoding involves producing a spoken analog of printed language, comprehension involves producing a thought analog of printed language. This is decoding in the general sense rather than in the special sense peculiar to reading. In this sense, comprehension is the reconstruction of the author’s message—the author constructs a message and encodes it in printed language, and the reader decodes the printed language and reconstructs the message. When all goes well, communication occurs—two minds with one thought and the implications of that thought. Three levels of comprehension are usually proposed: the literal level, the inferential or interpretive level, and the critical, applied, or appreciative level.

1. The literal level

This level involves literal comprehension, interpreting the author’s words in a given sentence in a way that has meaning to us, but without considering and weighing the implications of any interpretation we may have. Literal comprehension involves word meaning, but it is more than decoding the meanings of individual words one at a time. Context determines word meaning to a great extent.

2. The inferential level

The level of inferential comprehension, also called the interpretive level, is the level of comprehending what is implied but not explicitly stated. The morphemes that make up infer mean “to carry into,” implying that we carry meaning into a text rather than draw it out. There is probably no comprehension without some degree of inference (Were those “kids” children or goats?). As we have shown, inference produced by context is helpful and sometimes necessary in decoding to speech and determining literal meaning, so the boundary between decoding and comprehension is a bit blurry to a degree, we are always reading between the lines. But inferential, interpretive comprehension goes far beyond the determination of word meanings. It is involved with building a mental model of the whole situation implied by the text with reasonable

certainty. What we mean by a “mental model” is a coherent image of a situation, either actual or fictional, that is consistent with the language of the text (Sadoski & Paivio, 2001).

C. Response

The third fundamental competency of reading involves a personal reaction to what is read, the contemplation of the ideas and feelings evoked by the text, responding to the text both cognitively and affectively.

1. The critical level

Critical reading involves assessing and judging the value of what is read. Critical reading means evaluating and judging, but a good critic does more than retort with thumbs-up, thumbs-down verdicts. A good critic engages in the task of looking deeper and appraising relative strengths and weaknesses. Critical reading involves an open-minded assessment of a work’s form, style, credibility, depth, and relative stature among other works of the same kind. It involves gaining insight and enlightenment as well as detecting bias and propaganda.

2. The applied level

Application involves the construction of knowledge by the reader, particularly for the purpose of carrying that knowledge beyond the text. This amounts to learning, where learning is traditionally defined as a potential or actual change in behavior as a result of instruction or experience. Reading to learn is a central part of much schooling, where what we learn through reading is put to work both in and out of school.

3. The appreciative level

Reader response can take the form of “living through” a text. This can be seen as a major aspect of literary appreciation, where a reader constructs a mental model or inner world where the settings, characters, and events come alive far beyond what the author may have described or implied and what the reader might have ever before imagined. The reader may have a favorite fictional work where the characters and settings reside in memory with as much reality as actual persons or places. The immense popularity of the Harry Potter books or The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein serve as current cultural examples. Appreciation also can be seen as an extension of critical reading, where through careful evaluation and discrimination readers personalize the challenging new ideas or experiences, they encounter and develop heightened internal standards.


Sadoski, Mark. 2004. Conceptual Foundations of Teaching Reading. New York: The Guilford Press

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