Reading is perhaps the most important learning skill that teachers try to teach and develop in their students. Today, research has produced various approaches to reading. Students are expected to engage in academic reading through different strategies, including interactive reading that enhances reading comprehension.
First of all, it is important to annotate that academic reading entails more than simply reading words off a page or a computer screen, for that matter. Academic reading is in fact a critical reading of academic text that has a specific purpose – to acquire and enhance knowledge. Teachers resort to various plans/methods that help students enhance their reading proficiencies and harness academic reading competencies.
The plans/methods that teachers resort to are commonly referred as reading strategies. Among such strategies lies interactive reading. It consists of a giving readers control over what they are reading. They can use their imagination and knowledge to interpret and construct meaning. In the end, all strategies aim at developing academic reading through reading comprehension.
Having said this, the challenge for teachers is to find the adequate strategies that can help their students improve their reading comprehension skills; this will facilitate engagement in academic reading via any reading strategy, including interactive reading. Due to the importance that reading comprehension has in the entire reading process, it is important to elaborate on what it is and what it entails. Following this line of thought, “reading comprehension involves two primary processes: (a) decoding printed text and (b) understanding language accessed through the process of decoding” (Cain et. al 1). These two reading comprehension processes enable students to take the words from the page, convert them into spoken language, and make it easier to understand (Cain et. al 2).
Teachers are fundamental throughout this students’ learning process. Apart from instructing students in various reading strategies, it is also important to give their impart background knowledge that is beyond a student’s reading comprehension skills. This applies, especially when dealing with interactive reading, a strategy in which “the reader is seen as an active meaning-maker individual: meaning does not reside unproblematically in the text but is made by readers who engage with it in a dynamic interaction” (Granville 14). In other words, the reader has the freedom to interpret the text and draw personal conclusions. However, there is still a background knowledge that is necessary for the student to know (regardless of whether or not he/she extracts it from his/her interpretation).
Furthermore, it is important to point out that reading strategies not only foment reading comprehension, but also “promote the students’ independence, confidence and engagement with literature” (Levy, Dickerson, and Teague 103). Ultimately, reading comprehension and reading strategies aim at helping students become more analytical and critical whenever they engage a new text. Therefore, they will manage to extract the knowledge contained inside the text. Of course, mastering the reading comprehension process is not an easy task, especially considering that skills related to complex cognitive processes can be significantly difficult (Svetina, Gorin, and Tatsuoka 1). However, teachers should realize how important it is to develop such skills and employ reading strategies. If all the steps would be taken, students’ ability to engage in academic reading will be greatly facilitated.