Reading is a complex and multifaceted skill, and notions of how best to teach reading have been in constant revision, especially with the rise of the Internet. The International Reading Association (2009) has said that ‘to be fully literate in today’s world necessitates proficiency in the new literacies of information and communication’. You can, therefore, argue that teachers need to often needed when it comes to electronic texts (how to deal with hyperlinked texts, for example), and the nature of a text itself has changed, with new games of text emerging (email, chat, microblogging, ect.), as well as new combinations of text and image. All of these new texts require a new set of skills, usually clustered under the umbrella term of digital literacy.
Digital literacy refers to ‘a person ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment’ and ‘includes the ability to read and interpret media, to reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments’ (Jones-Kavalier & Flannigan, 2006). It is connected to critical literacy, which has become more important because of the increasing ease of publication online, and which means learners need to be more critical about sources of information they refer to.
In this chapter, we will look at some activities designed to help the teacher use technology to facilitate reading-skills development. These activities are intended as examples of how a teacher can use technology to enhance the different types of more traditional reading that occur in the language classroom (those usually connected with print texts). Different reading sub-skills are examined here, which include skimming, scanning, reading for gist, activating schema and inferencing. The activities try to use technology in ways that make it easier or more motivating to practice these sub-skills.
The activities also deal with different areas of reading, such as extensive reading; reading aloud; comparing reading texts; reading for information; integrating reading and writing; identifying different text-types; reading and summarizing and reading for pleasure.
The last of these seems to be particularly important, as anecdotal evidence indicates that many teachers complain nowadays that their learners (especially teenagers) don’t read and don’t like reading. The global Harry Potter and Twilight phenomena show that this is not always the case, teacher’s disposal. It should be emphasized that there is ‘no magic bullet; no single explanation for what teachers can do to ensure that their learners learn to read a second or foreign language’ (Hudson, 2007: 297).