Issue of January 7, 2018

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Who interprets best?

During the Yuletide celebration, Christmas songs filled the air. Carolers, young and old, were everywhere. In some cases, we noticed that some of them mispronounce the lyrics. Although sometimes, singing disregards correct pronunciation. Some, however, mispronounce the words blatantly. This leads us to another question: Do all singers understand what they are singing? In the case of Christmas songs, they surely know the theme, but if we give them a line or two to interpret, we will find out that some of them have a difficulty interpreting it.

It is therefore necessary to ponder why such things happen.

In education, every child or learner acquires skills in Language learning namely reading, writing, listening, speaking, and nowadays, visual representation. The assumption would be, the Language teachers are responsible in letting the learners understand and interpret a sentence or a passage.

Oftentimes, the learner’s failure to pass an examination or solve a problem is associated with the lack of proficiency. Others blame the Language teachers for this.

In teaching, it is believed that every teacher is responsible in teaching the learners how to read and understand texts through different strategies, regardless of their major.

It must be realized that the competence of the learner in a specified area depends on the subject area that the teacher has mastered. It is impractical to blame the Language teacher if a child can’t solve a Mathematical problem stated in a paragraph.

It might be argued that Language proficiency is in charge of the correct interpretation of the words in a paragraph, but solving a Mathematical problem involves a Mathematical concept. The pattern of which relies on the Mathematics teacher. History, Science, Literature, and other content areas have their own concepts of understanding sentences by producing meanings. Texts differ from one content area to another. Science texts differ from Literature and Literature texts differ from History. History texts differ from Mathematics.

Content area reading tells that the teacher can better help the learner understand what he or she reads in the teacher’s content area also. This is possible because teaching reading per se does not have a complicated cognitive requirement from the teacher. Pronunciation does not differ in any subject area. Subjects differ only in their contents. When one teaches reading, the learners are taught how to read. How they interpret the text will now depend on the subject area teacher, because the texts have different interpretations depending on the subject. One best example is jargons or technical terms.

Let us remember that the Language teacher cannot be expected to have the same level of knowledge in Science like the Science teacher and vice versa. A student will not only develop literacy in an English class. In other words, we can’t compile everything in just one subject and produce different meanings intended for other subject areas.

Blaming one another closes the door to understanding reading and writing in content areas. The bottom line is, making learners interpret texts correctly is a shared responsibility. Every teacher has his or her own strategy and techniques to make every learner proficient. Instructions regarding disciplinary literacy are better given by the teacher in that subject area.

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