DEVELOPING COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE THROUGH READING IN EFL STUDENTS AT TERTIARY LEVEL
Generally speaking, within Bologna process, Valencian Universities (Spain) faced a problem concerning about language learning outcomes, and this became major issue with the implementation of Plurilingualism policies. Students coming to Tertiary level, especially first grade students at Teacher Training Faculty, show poor performance when dealing with productive skills (writing and speaking). However, that could only be the tip of the iceberg as receptive skills (listening and reading) aren't really developed up to an intermediate level of understanding, which creates an uncomfortable situation regarding University requirements, despite the efforts. The issue has long been argued for several authors (Pavon, 2007; Pérez-Vidal, 2007) coming from different educational backgrounds and teaching levels, but there was no satisfactory answer to the problem as it seemed to be a weak motivation to sustain any revision of teacher education program.
Today future teachers need to train themselves to function effectively in a more global way of learning, as not only they need to be ready for mobility at work or studies, but also for education new challenges such as teaching by using active methodologies with the support of new technologies. Furthermore, EFL students at first grade of Teacher Training studies follow a program mainly based on developing linguistic competence as they have to fulfil B1 level prerequisite in order to have their academic degree, although the subject includes English didactics. Consequently, few sessions are devoted to the other knowledge areas such as learning how to teach English to children, how to apply knowledge or even to include reading literature works as part of their future pupils' learning process. In this sense, something had to be improved in order to provide students, within the four-months learning period, with the learning strategies that would allow them to make progress in both linguistic and communicative proficiency.
This work shows how organizing a few extra sessions of guided reading promotes oral skills (either productive or receptive), as much as written work, when lessons are well planned, basic competences well defined, and students are asked to work collaboratively. Workshops were planned following in several authors' footsteps (Collie, J. Slater, St. 1987; Lazar, G. 1993; Albaladejo, MD. 2004). This would also support the opinion of those authors (Dalton-Puffer, 2008; Kelly, 2009) who argued against developing mainly communicative skills without paying much attention to form. Students perceptions in fact are somehow erroneous concerning about their level of listening and reading skills, however with the help of guided reading workshops students gain fluency, confidence, and also cultural knowledge. This self-confidence would supposedly improve their performance in English, and students would score higher not only in terms of communicative competence, but also in their language proficiency levels. Linguistic competence would be objectively measured at the end of the term through a placement test provided by University so as to assess students achievements compared to those who would not attend to reading workshops.