La Rivista per l'insegnamento e l'apprendimento delle lingue

EFL and ESL Knowledgeable Reading

A critical element for viable membership in global communities

Claudia Finkbeiner

In diesem Artikel geht es um die Rolle des aktiven Lesens als Schlüsselqualifikation für lebenslanges Lernen in unserer globalen, mehr und mehr von Texten bestimmten Welt. Die Autorin betont zuerst die allgemeine Bedeutung des Lesens in Englisch als Zweit- und Fremdsprache und skizziert dann das Wechselspiel zwischen Strategien und Interessen beim fremdsprachlichen Lesen. Zwei empirische Studien - die erste aus den Jahren 1994 bis 1999, mit deutschen Schülerinnen und Schülern sowie amerikanischen und taiwanesischen Kontrollgruppen durchgeführt, die zweite zur Zeit in Deutschland laufend - belegen die eingangs formulierte These, dass kritisches Leseverständnis für den modernen Bürger und für ein demokratisches, selbstbestimmtes Leben unabdingbar ist. Daraus erwächst die Notwendigkeit, diese Kompetenz mit allen Mitteln im schulischen und außerschulischen Kontext zu fördern. Die Ergebnisse der beiden besprochenen Studien können dabei wertvolle Hinweise für die Umsetzung in die Praxis des Lesetrainings liefern.


At present, we are passengers on a rapid and vertiginous roller-coaster ride involving the ups and downs of man-made scientific, societal, cultural, educational and economic transformations (Finkbeiner, 2006). Around each hairpin curve there is a new surprise waiting. At first glance, the value of our knowledge and skills seems to be continually deteriorating and to decline faster than food stored in the kitchen closet. However, at second glance, it appears that our knowledge does not really decrease. In fact, depending on the situation and on the context, knowledge has to be unremittingly re-structured, re-built, re-cycled, transformed and expanded (Vygotski, 1978; Piaget / Inhelder, 1973).
It is the perspective that has to be changed. Things look different to the passenger who is sitting straight up in the roller coaster compared to the passenger who is strapped in his seat swirling upside down.
As a consequence, only individuals who have “learned to learn”, that is to say, to critically and flexibly read and to evaluate perspective, context and situation of a specific learning scenario can be in charge of their own learning (Suchmann, 1987). Their learning biography will be constantly re-shaped and re-invented because of situated differences (Finkbeiner, 2006).
It is thus our responsibility as educators to properly qualify young people or students for a world that is increasingly constructed through texts. We can teach learners not to fear an unpredictable text and/or reading task but learn to actively and reflectively deal with it. It is argued that learning strategies (Cohen / Marcaro, in press; Mandl / Friedrich, 2006) and interest are key to this qualification (Finkbeiner, 2005; Finkbeiner/Ludwig/Wilden/Knierim, forthcoming).

English in Foreign or Second Language Reading

Along with the salient necessity for life-long learning comes an ever-increasing demand for a high literacy level, not only in the official classroom language (OECD, 2004a, 2004b), but also in the foreign or second language, particularly in English as the lingua franca (DESI Konsortium, 2006; Finkbeiner, 2005; International Reading Association, 2001). Reading flexibility and sophisticated thinking skills are required in order to be able to read, understand and evaluate a variety of different text types and text tasks academically.

Testo completo dell’articolo / Texte complet de l’article / Vollständiger Artikeltext / Full Text (pdf)