Foundations: Reading Skills is a four-level-reading textbook for students of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) who have a basic knowledge of English. It is designed primarily to help students prepare for studying in English–medium academic courses.
Foundations: Reading Skills is comprised of ten thematically-based units, each of which contains two readings. Skill-building and vocabulary-building activities accompany each reading.
An important goal of Foundations: Reading Skills is to help students become confident readers by increasing their vocabulary base and improving their word-comprehension skills. It engages them in the process of reading thoughtfully and encourages them to move beyond mere passive reading. To accomplish this, the book addresses the reading process in a direct manner, and various reading and vocabulary skills are presented as part of that process. The instruction and practice with reading skills helps students increase their reading fluency and equip them with skills they need for academic achievement. Focus on vocabulary-building promotes their language acquisition and academic advancement. Also, the lexical and syntactic content of the readings has been controlled. The tasks are varied, accessible, and engaging, and they provide stimuli for frequent student-teacher and student-student interaction.
Student awareness of reading and thinking processes is further encouraged in many parts of the book by exercises which require students to work in pairs or small groups. In discussions with others, students formulate and articulate their ideas more precisely, and so they acquire new ways of talking and thinking about a text. These activities present opportunities for real-world contact and real-world use of language. Students are asked to write, and then to read each other’s work so they can experience the connection between reading and writing.
Traditionally, reading classes are based one one of two approaches: in one approach, class time is primarily spent with students doing individual reading and exercise-completion; in the other, class time is devoted to group discussions of the reading and exercise-completion. Because both approaches are important, this book integrates them by alternating reading activities with speaking or writing activities.
Within each unit, students not only practice reading, but they also receive instruction in various skills and strategies incorporated into the reading process.
The basic format for each unit in Foundations: Reading Skills is as follows:
These pre-reading questions serve to introduce the topic of the reading and get students thinking about that topic. Activating prior knowledge allows students to tap into what they already know, and then builds on that knowledge and stirs curiosity. The questions allow students to interact with each other.
A number of key words which are common in everyday and academic English are explained in simple English. These are followed by a fill-in-the-blanks exercise to make sure that students understand the words and can use them in context. Understanding is crucial to language acquisition.
Scanning and Skimming
In this section students are asked to scan the reading for specific information, or to skim it for main ideas.
In this section a variety of skill-building and vocabulary-building exercises are introduced: determining the main idea; understanding reading structure; guessing meaning from context; recognizing contextual reference; finding the topic and topic sentence; understanding signal terms; making an outline; understanding cause and effect; comparison and contrast; exemplification; classification; understanding parts of speech; understanding antonyms and synonyms, etc. These dynamic skill and vocabulary acquisition exercises ensure that students will develop and acquire the important reading skills and vocabulary needed to make them good readers.
Each unit concludes with a set of questions for discussion designed to encourage students to think about, distill, and exchange views about the information they have been presented with throughout the unit. Following the discussion, the students are sometimes requested to write the answers to the discussion questions, a place for students to reflect in writing on the learning in the unit.
UNIT 1: Communication
UNIT 2: Education
UNIT 3: Healthy Lifestyles
UNIT 4: Special Times: Special Foods
UNIT 5: Revision
UNIT 6: The Computer Age
UNIT 7: Life’s Stresses
UNIT 8: Exploration, Discoveries, and Inventions
UNIT 9: Money Issues
UNIT 10: Revision
Foundation 2: Reading Skills, Intermediate, First Ed.