READING COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES & MOTHER TONGUE USE IN EAP COURSES IN ISRAELI ACADEMIA
The goal of this paper is two-fold. First, we outline the various reading comprehension strategies employed in teaching EAP courses in Israel, and discuss challenges faced by students- native speakers of various Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic, and Amharic). Second, we advocate the use of L1 in our L2 classrooms and explore the contexts in which this practice is most beneficial for the learner. The ultimate goal of an EAP course in Israeli academia is to equip students with tools for coping with academic texts in English, thus rendering a central role to teaching a wide array of reading comprehension strategies (cf. Raftari, Seyyedi, & Ismail, 2012; Rraku, 2013 for similar views). Proficient readers need to employ a variety of reading strategies (Anderson, 1991, 2005; Block, 1986, 1992; Carrell, 1998; Hock & Mellard, 2005), including word-, sentence-, paragraph-, and text-level strategies. In order to achieve high level of proficiency, reading strategies are explicitly taught and practiced by means of authentic academic texts of varying length and structure/complexity. The need to teach and train students in the various text-coping techniques brings us to the second challenge: the use of L2 vs. L1 in our EAP classrooms. Efficient teaching involves imprinting reading strategies in the students' metacognition (Carrell, 1998; Farrell, 2001; McNeil, 2011; Song, 1998; Winograd & Hare, 1988), hence the importance of students' understanding of the teacher's explanations. In this context, the use of the students' mother tongue (L1) in EAP instruction gains higher importance. Numerous advocates of L1 in ESL/EFL classrooms have outlined a comprehensive list of efficient uses of L1 (Atkinson, 1987; Auerbach, 1993; Cook, 2001; Schweers, 1999). We strongly believe that, especially in the case of weaker students, the use of L1 will facilitate their understanding and internalization of various reading comprehension strategies. To this end, we advocate presentation of (some of) text-coping techniques using the students' L1, as well as initial exemplification of these techniques using an authentic academic text in the students' mother tongue.
International Burch University