Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 10 October 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Problems in Reading Comprehension Skills among
Secondary School Students in Yemen

Suad Awad Dahman Balfakeh, Ph.D. Candidate


This paper tries to identify the Students' problems in answering reading comprehension questions. Two questionnaires and two reading tasks about the students' perceptions towards the areas under investigation were used. The subjects of the study consisted of 120 students who were in the final year of the secondary school (scientific and literary sections) and 15 teachers who teach English to those students.

The findings indicated that students have serious deficiencies in discourse-based reading skills such as recognizing text organization and identifying cohesive devices. It also show that students fall back on Arabic, their mother tongue, when answering reading comprehension questions due to difficulties they face in comprehending a text. The results of the tasks administered to the students contrast with claim made by teachers that they pay attention to the reading skills investigated.

Key Words: recognizing text organization, and identifying cohesive devices.

1. Introduction

Clearly the view of reading and comprehending texts in the mother tongue is different from in a foreign language. It appears that most readers in the native language are able to predict what will come next. Several reasons may be mentioned to explain this situation.

Firstly, there is our knowledge of the code and the fact that certain combinations of items are more likely to occur than others.

Secondly, there is our knowledge of the topic.

Finally, there is our knowledge of the lexical, syntactic and rhetorical devices that guides us in comprehending a written text as efficiently as possible.

The students are able to use this knowledge, which they have acquired through their experience of learning and using their own language. Unfortunately, our students who are learning English as a foreign language are still in the process of acquiring this knowledge, and it is not clear whether explicit training in guessing and using contextual and other clues to meaning will actually help the foreign language reader to comprehend a text. The various problems Arab learners face in using English at the discourse level are manifested in both receptive and productive skills. The problem lies in the Arab learners' failure not only to read of more than one sentence but also to listen to an extended speech, dialogue or lecture with adequate understanding.

2. The Purpose of the Study

This study attempts to demonstrate how the following areas constitute problems for our students when they read a text for comprehension:

  • To follow the organization of a text and identify antecedents and references in it.
  • To answer questions that are asked in a text but not in the words in which the question is asked.

3. Background of the study

The research was conducted at three secondary schools at Aden in Yemen. The subjects of the study consisted of 120 students (70 boys and 50 girls) who were in the final year of the secondary school (scientific and literary sections) and 15 teachers who teach English to those students. They are all native speakers of Arabic and English is taught as foreign language. The students have been studying English for seven years. The number of students performed the written tasks were 120 students. While 15 teachers and 63 students filled the questionnaires. The teachers and students were randomly selected for this study. Some teachers have been teaching English for twenty years, others for ten years and some are fresh teachers who have taught the subject for about five years.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Spelling Variations in Kannada | A Survey of the State of the Art in Punjabi Language Processing | The Representation of Homosexuality - A Content Analysis in a Malaysian Newspaper | Noun Reduplication in Tamil and Kannada | Journey of Self-discovery in Anita Nair's Ladies' Coupé | A Study of Communicability and Intelligibility of Advertisements in Tamil With Special Reference to Tooth Paste and Health Drink | Explicit Grammar Instruction | Teaching English as a Second Language Using Communicative Language Teaching - An Evaluation of Practice in India | Discovering Values in English Language Teaching | The Core Functions of the Hindi Modals - Speech Act Approach | Textbook Analysis of English for Engineers | Cross-Professional Collaboration on E-Learning Courses | Reading Arundhati Roy's Fiction The God of Small Things Through Her Non-Fiction | Teaching English through Indian Writing in English in Rural India | Proverbs in Modern Tamil and Telugu Societies | Using Problem Based Learning Technique in Teaching English Grammar | Problems in Reading Comprehension Skills among Secondary School Students in Yemen | The Literary Value of the Book of Isaiah | Will Sentences Have Divergence Upon Translation? : A Corpus-Evidence Based Solution for Example Based Approach | HOME PAGE of October 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Suad Awad Dahman Balfakeh, Ph.D. Candidate
Blok H51/3-30, Rumah Antarabangsa
University Sains Malaysia
11800 USM
Pula Penang

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