Issues in EFL in Japan (Not currently being updated)

My name in James Hall and I teach an English Teaching Methodologies class for aspiring English teachers and advising 5 senior students (one is in the USA). This blog is will be used as a forum to discuss issued in EFL in Japan. This blog will also serve as a portal to the learners' blogs as I will periodically summarize the hot topics appearing in the learners' blogs. Please come join us!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Reading Silently vs. Following Along

Keywords: Reading Silently, EFL Reading
We are going to ask you to read a text about different and somewhat sensational treatments in alternative medicine. Please read the directions and then do part1 and part2. When you have finished, please answer the question at the ending. Please write your answer as a comment to this post.
Part I: Read the first part of the text to yourself. While you are reading, try to think of the answer to the following questions:
  1. Where in the West are alternative medicines particulary popular?
  2. What is a colonic?
TEXT:Would you let someone massage your face with a very sharp knife just to lose a few pounds? Or how about press the inside of your mouth with a frozen piece of metal to improve brain function? Would you have salt water pumped through one nostril and out the other to treat a head code? Although these therapies may sound a little shocking, more and more people are paying large amounts of money for the health benefits they promise.Alternative therapies and medicines are becoming popular everywhere, but especially so on the west coast of the United States. Californians are known for their enthusiasm for new trend in health or beauty. So it is not surprising that they are rushing to their therapists’ office to have their colons cleaned. The colon-enema, or colonic, works by pumping five to ten gallons of warm water mixed with coffee through the colon. The water flushes out hardened waste and bacteria, leaving the colon clean and healthy. Enthusiasts claim that a colonic makes their skin look younger, improves sexual functions, and gives an overall feeling of good health. Although the colonic is a relatively new treatment in the West, it has been used safety for centuries in China and other countries in the East. In fact, in part of Russia, patients are given a colonic immediately upon checking into a hospital. Answers to the questions in Part I:

Part II:
Please follow along while we read the text. While you read and listen to the text, try to think of the answer to the following questions.
  1. What does Eastern medicine generally focus on and what does Western medicine generally focus on?
  2. What should you do before spending your money on the latest treatment in alternative medicine?

Please click on the link here to listen to the text. After clicking on the link, if you receive a download window, click "open" and wait for your computer to open the sound file (It might take a couple of minutes.) Make sure to read the text while you listen to it. If the sound file automatically opens in a new window, make sure to view this page so you can read the text while you listen:(V)o¥o(V)

TEXT: Another popular therapy is fasting. People who fast check themselves into a fasting clinic and have nothing but water for seven to ten days. They claim that fasting cleans and energies the entire body. Some even claim that fasting can cure serious diseases. The “grape fast,” which involves eating nothing but dark grapes for seven days, is used widely in Russia as part of a treatment program for cancer.Alternative therapies such as these are finally gaining acceptance in the mainstream medical establishment. Several American universities, including the Harvard School of Medicine, offer courses and degrees in alternative therapies, herbal medicines, and nutritional therapy.The more progressive schools teach what is called “The New Medicine.” This is a combination of Eastern and Western medical practices.The Eastern side of “The New Medicine” focuses on prevention and treating the causes of disease. The Western side focuses on symptoms and pain.Skeptics, however, remind us that many alternative and new therapies have never been thoroughly tested. Some treatments are not as effective as promised. And some are even dangerous. Some herbal medicines, widely believed to be safe, can even be deadly if not used properly. Before spending your money on the latest treatment, consult your doctor and do a little research. So how about it? A colonic, anyone?

Answer to Comprehension Questions for Part II
Question: Was it easier for you to understand the text reading on your own or was it easier for you to understand the text following along while someone else read it? Why? Please write your answer as a comment to this post. This text was taken from Charles M .Knudsen (2003) . STRANGER THAN FICTION.NAN ' UN - DO, p.14


  • At 12:45 pm, Blogger yuko said…

    i write a comment for the first time. my friend announced me this blog and i have much interest in this discussion.

    it is easier for me to understand the text reading silently than following along. coz in the case of READING SILENTLY, i can read the passage with my own speed. if i cannot understand a sentence well, i can read again and again until i can understand it. and in my opinion, when we have to understand content of the text, we had better concentrate our attention on grasping the text.

    on the other hand, following along is also good way to read the texts following along. we can find collect stress and rhythm. they will help us to grasp the text.

  • At 11:20 pm, Anonymous Keena said…

    Hello!I heard about this discussion from Gami!!It is very interesting subject to discuss.

    I agree with Yoko's opinion. I also think it was easier for me to understand the text reading on my own than following along while someone read it. Because English is a second Language for me, I felt the speed of reading was a bit too fast. Sometimes I could not understand these wards and I was confused when I listend someone's reading.
    But If I am a native English speaker, maybe it is easer to understand the text following along while someone read it. The reason is that I do not need to read for my own but just listen. If I am a native speaker, I mean, I can understand the text even I close my eyes. It is so easy!
    Anyway, I felt the content of this text was a little difficult for me and I think it is easy to understand the text reading for my own slowly or repeatedly. Thank you.

  • At 1:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    私も上記のお二人と同じく「Reading Silently」のほうが問題を解きやすく感じました。どうしても長年の癖で英語を読むときは英語を「音」ではなく「文字」で捉えてしまうので、読むという作業に徹底したほうが集中して問題を解ける気がしました。




  • At 11:48 am, Blogger JH said…

    Dear Yuko, Keena, and Anonymous,
    Thank you for your comments. I was surprised that all of you preferred reading silently. I tried a similar exercise with English teachers and Assistant Language Teachers at a teacher's workshop. The majority of participants that that following along to someone else's reading was better. There reasons were that
    1) The reader's intonation helped them understand the text.
    2) They could understand the words better when someone spoke them.


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