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August 2020 - Year 22 - Issue 4

ISSN 1755-9715

“Switching” to Critical Reading: Reading within the Four Resources Framework

Endang Setyaningsih is an assistant professor at Sebelas Maret University, Surakarta, Indonesia. She is interested in the teaching of and research in EFL Reading and Critical Literacy.



Teachers today are challenged to equip their students with critical reading competence which requires readers to determine trustworthiness, accuracy, completeness, timeliness  and to pay attention to the reflected values and representation; to what is presented as well as to what is omitted and maintained; to detect and resist social unjust, domination, or power abuse. (Wallace, 2003; Giroux, 1991).  In the practice, however, many teachers are still struggling with how to teach these skills to the students. This article addresses the issue by proposing a doable lesson outline highlighting ‘switching activity’ which is developed within Luke and Freebody’s Four Resources Framework (FRF henceforth).

The FRF consists of code-breaking, text participant, text user, and text analyst.  At the bottom line, the FRF suggests that readers’ task does not stop at cracking the symbolic graphic representation of the text. Instead, readers should critically analyze texts, knowing how the text attempts to position the reader and what other viewpoints are absent or silenced from the text. Luke and Freebody (1999) noted that the FRF is neither developmental nor taxonomic. It means that the roles could be introduced at any time or level whenever there is chance; whether it comes naturally or created with the aid of, for example, questions and materials selection. The roles engagement is also fluid because a student may perform all roles at (nearly) the same time.

Regardless of the non-developmental and fluid nature of the FRF practice, earlier studies on the implementation of FRF in EFL settings indicate that without sufficient base on basic comprehension, engagement in text analyst role is vulnerable. Critical assessment may be base-less and potentially misleading or off-target without basic comprehension. This leads to the classic question of the possibility to teach critical reading in the second or foreign language context in which learners are commonly still struggling with their reading proficiency. Wallace (2003) asserted that criticality is not rooted at language proficiency. But it is likely that a certain degree of threshold of language proficiency has to be surpassed. Yet, it also means that the critical reading can be implemented with regard to the current level of students’ language proficiency. This paper forwards switching activities (Setyaningsih, 2017) that are modifiable to all level of students with adjustment on the materials.


Lesson outline

Level: Undergraduate
Aim: To help students develop critical reading skills (developing multiple perspectives and identifying bias)
Preparation: Instructor has to read the book then select and copy selected excerpts (or chapter)

1.    Introduce the topic of the text that you are going to discuss in class. Tell the students the text they are going to read are excerpts (or chapter or part of a chapter) from a book entitled Women Don’t Ask (Babcock and Laschever, 2007).
2.    Allow sufficient time for reading. Reading aloud is also possible to examine students’ role as code-breaker. 

Combining fascinating research with revealing commentary from hundreds of women, this groundbreaking book explores the personal and societal reasons women seldom ask for what they need, want, and deserve at home and at work–and shows how they can develop this crucial skill.
By neglecting to negotiate her starting salary for her first job, a woman may sacrifice over half a million dollars in earnings by the end of her career. Yet, as research reveals, men are four times more likely to ask for higher pay than are women with the same qualifications. From career promotions to help with childcare, studies show time and again that women don’t ask–and frequently don’t even realize that they can. Women Don’t Ask offers real-life examples of the differences between the negotiating habits of men and women, and guides women in retooling their attitudes and approaches. Discover how to:
•Take the first step–choosing to negotiate at all
•Develop a comfortable, effective negotiation style
• Overcome fear, personal entitlement issues, and gender stereotypes

3.    Gauge students’ basic comprehension of the excerpts. (text participant role)  
4.    Ask the students the excerpt that they like most. Elicit information that elaborate their choice. You could ask them what the most striking information that that they learned from the excerpt is. 
5.    Ask the students to switch the presentation of text into action. Allow students to work in group and create a mockup scene from the excerpt (switching the form). This activity requires students to visualize and verbalized what they comprehend on the situation depicted in the excerpt. This act out is gender specific. The boss is performed by male student and the employee is female.  (text user role)
6.    Invite one or two groups to perform for the class. 
7.    Ask students to think of the possible scenario if the boss is a woman and the employee is also a woman, and if the boss is a woman and the employee is a man. Do they think that the situation will be different from the book? (switching gender)
8.    Invite students to share their thoughts
9.    Group students into groups of three to five. For each group assign one question to ponder. Alternately, pairing is possible.
a)    Do you think the writer will tell you the same thing if he/she is male/ female? (switching gender); 
b)    Is the idea still relevant here and now (switching time and place); 
c)    What would be the text or situation like from the perspective of the boss? (switching point of view) 
10.    Allow students to think of the questions then discuss their answer in 10-15 minutes. (text analyst role)
11.    Invite students to share their thoughts with another groups or pairs.
12.    Ask the students to create 2-3 questions they want to ask after reading the excerpts of the book. (may reflect engagement in certain roles of reader) 
13.    Display 5 of the students’ questions and ask if another students also have similar questions. 
14.    Invite students to do reflection on the activities

Note: Consideration on time allotment has to be made beforehand to allow sufficient time for critical dialogues with and among students. If the instructor decides to use a chapter instead of certain part or excerpt of a chapter, the reading stage can be carried out as out-class preparation activity. This outline may take up to five sessions depending on length required by the students to gain basic comprehension and the flow of critical dialogue and ‘act-out’ stage.



While directed at practicing text analyst role, the lesson outline addresses the code breaker, text participant, and text user role as well. Due to the non-taxonomic nature of the roles (Luke and Freebody, 1990 & 1999), it is often not easy to identify which role that the students attend to at a certain point. For example, code breaker is always attached to other roles. When students read the material, they break the code and when they understand the meaning of the sentences they are text participant at the same time. As noted by Luke and Freebody (1999), an efficient reader is characterized by the engagement in the four roles simultaneously. Yet, it is also possible that one role may be more obvious than the other at a certain occasion. For example, when the cipher is obscure, code breaking plays major role. On the other hand, when the when text comprehension is achieved, students tend to be more ready to approach the text critically by e.g. questioning the text, identify  bias, prototyping, or offer alternate view which are promoted by the use of ‘switching’ activities. Their critical practice is then usually more obvious than the other practices. The lesson outline is rather general and while it excludes detail on technical issues such as how to gauge students understanding, do the act-out and manage time allocation, it includes spaces for flexible modification by considering the wide range of possible class demography and dynamic.



Babcock, L. & Laschever, S. (2007). Women don’t ask. New York: Bantam.

Giroux, H. A., (1991). “Towards a postmodern pedagogy” in Cahoon, L. (1996). From modern to postmodernism: An anthology. Massachusetts: Blackwell publishing

Luke, A. & Freebody, P.  (1990) ‘Literacies’ programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect 5 (3),  7-16.

Luke, A. & Freebody, P.  (1999) “Further notes on the four resources model” Reading Online. Retrieved from

Setyaningsih, E.; Lengkanawati, N. & Musthafa, B. (2017). Switching to Postmodern Teaching - Turning to Critical Literacy. In The Tenth Conference on Applied Linguistics and The Second English Language Teaching and Technology Conference in collaboration with The First International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture, and Education (Vol. 1,  pp. 122-126.

Wallace, C (2003). Critical reading in language education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Please check the 21st Century Thinking Skills course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Drama Techniques for the English Classroom course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Advanced Drama and Improvisation Techniques for the English Classroom course at Pilgrims website.

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