Integrating Reading And Reading Skills In The Romanian Curricula – A Case-Study
Reading is one of the four skills included in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It is seen not only as a skill when it comes to foreign languages, but also when it comes to mother languages. Lately, one has noticed a decrease of the students’ interest in reading, no matter the level or the age. As far as we are concerned, we are trying to analyze how reading is integrated in the Romanian curricula. There are a lot of studies regarding the theories of reading. In order to increase motivation for reading, we should first see which the factors that may help students read more are or the factors that prevent students from reading. This paper will take into account one of these, which is the Romanian curriculum and how it is structured so as to integrate reading. Does it motivate students? Are there included works appropriate? The methodology that the paper uses involves a desk-research taking into account the Romanian curricula as it was designed for teaching Romanian; we will emphasize the way reading and reading skills are integrated. The research aims at being a synthesis of how reading and reading skills are integrated in the Romanian curricula and of the way students perceive these; we also aim at formulating some propositions in order to improve students’ reading skill and to increase their motivation for reading.
Keywords: Readingmotivationreading skills
Reading has always been an activity involving more than one side of human activity; it has been a
way of disseminating knowledge and information, a way of enriching cultures, but also a way of spending
one’s time in a pleasant manner being a leisure time activity. It has been seen as a “seduction, rebellion or
obsession” (Manguel, 1996) along the time. Reading belongs to any cultural space and to any historic
epoch and as it is so ancient, it has been the subject of many different changes of point of view along the
time. For instance, Romania has seen reading differently in different periods of its history to talk only
about its recent history: if during the communist period, it was seen as a refuge, a way of trying to
maintain oneself in a world of freedom, after 1989, reading has changed more and more.
People having the custom to read during Ceausescu’s time have become less and less interested in
reading as TV, newspapers, internet started to provide plenty of information which was on one side easier
to understand and on the other side, easier to find and less expensive. Statistics prove thus that reading
and especially literature reading have decreased nowadays in Romania although Romanians’ favourite
reading is represented by fiction books (15,59 %), followed by general knowledge books (14,32%) (Cât,
cum si ce citesc românii, octombrie 2012 (www.iwox.ro)).
Nevertheless, researchers belonging to different fields such as sciences of education, psychology,
philology continue to advocate for the importance of reading; so, if its importance for people’s becoming
remains the same, where should we look for the causes of the less and less number of people reading
literature or simply reading generally something just for fun? Could we blame it only on the new
technologies or is it something else somewhere behind which might be changed in order to make people
and especially young people draw nearer reading?
Our working hypothesis is that young people could be more attracted to reading and that they
might develop their reading skills continuously if the school curricula were designed with this purpose in
view and that it is necessary that something should be done taking into account the present-day situation
as it is revealed by international surveys:
“Students in Bulgaria and Romania had a considerable lower average achievement than their
counterparts in all other participating EU-27 countries. The mean scores in these countries were 60 points
lower than the EU-27 average. These countries had the lowest results in 2000 and their average scores
remained approximately the same in 2009.” (Teaching Reading in Europe: Contexts, Policies and
Practices, European Commission, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 2011, p. 15)
Paper Theoretical Foundation and Related Literature
As “reading is nowadays a current but also diverse practice, we assist –maybe as a consequence of
the encounter with the omnipresence of the picture- at the constitution of a new culture of reading”(
Muresanu, M., Literatura ca discurs mediat, Editura Universitatii Al.I.Cuza, Iasi, 1996, p. 11). According
to Muresanu, there are three fields continuously interacting as far as reading is concerned:
reader as a text according to his expectations and the encounter between the reader and the text.
When teaching literature in school, if we, as teachers, desire to facilitate reading and to develop reading
skills, we have to take into account all these three fields.
Sofia Dima considers that reading can be seen from three perspectives (Dima, 2000): as an
intellectual activity, as a socio-cultural activity and as a social institution. Reading as an intellectual
activity refers to the “perception, structuring and relating the signs among them” (Dima, 2000), while
reading as a socio-cultural activity is a “delayed pseudo-communication” (Dima, 2000). The third
perspective under which Dima sees reading is as a “social-institution” and it is this last aspect which
concerns us; in its quality of “social institution”, reading has more peculiar characteristics (Dima, 2000)
classrooms; it has a socio-economic part related to the activity of publishing and selling; it is a cultural
habit operating hierarchies among texts; it is a continuous assessment process changing in the same time
with groups’ and times’ mentalities; it is a way of enriching the reader’s cultural horizon;
habits, preferences and behaviours of the public reflecting a constant or changing reading
the aims or to the existing conditioning, varying from individual momentary mood up to the social
can be subjected to different interpretations given the number of readers and their diversity.
Among these characteristics, there are three which we are interested in within the frame of this
paper: first of all, reading is
as it reveals the school and teachers’ responsibility related to reading and developing reading skills; the
documents by which the Romanian education system is supposed to do that is the curricula. It also falls
also under the school’s responsibility to realize that in time,
the new reading preferences and habits and the curricula.The third characteristic to be referred to is
conditioning making reading a requirement, a must in schoolwhich might affect its status of leisure
Thus, the documents we need to take into account in order to better understand how reading and
reading skills development are integrated in teaching/learning at school in Romania are the national
curricula. The age groups taken into account for the overview of the national curricula in Romania are:
10, 11 to 14, 14-16, 16-18. We are speaking here of
In point of methodology, we aim at achieving an overview of the national curricula in Romania
with respect to how reading and reading skills are integrated and/or promoted within the frame of the
Romanian public system of education.
According to the
Literature is taught in the 4th form (to pupils of 10 years old) 5 hours/week.
designed according to the Common Framework for Developing Communication Skills in Mother
Language. This framework takes into account: the Literary Framework for Teachers, LiFT (Witte, 2009),
this document being used to design the necessary skills for reading and PIRLS Assessment Framework
(PIRLS , 2011), involving the progress of the reading skills at the end of the primary education.
The curriculum includes 4 categories of information:
The curriculum for students from 11 to 14 years old (Ordonul Ministrului Educatiei Nationale, nr. 5097/09.09.2009, 2009) takes into account the same 4 general skills as the previous curriculum, that for the younger students. The texts are either literary or non-literary at this stage. Apart from other topics of interests, this curriculum mentions that it aims at developing skills for reading. The curriculum includes not only general skills, but also values and attitudes which should be developed in students, such as: arousing the interest for and the pleasure of reading, as well as developing the autonomous reflexive thinking related to the written/oral messages.
The curriculum for students from 15 to 18 years old (the IXth, the Xth, the XIth, the XIIth forms) involves partially different general skills: using Romanian in order to comprehend written or oral messages, using different types of analysis to comprehend literary/non-literary texts, expressing for/against opinions. The curriculum includes not only general skills, but also values and attitudes which should be developed in students, such as: arousing the interest for and the pleasure of reading, as well as developing the autonomous reflexive, critical thinking related to the written/oral messages. The contents fall into two categories: Literature; Language and Communication. Romanian Language and Literature is taught in the 9th and the Xth form form (to pupils of 15, 16 years old) 3 hours/week.
The curricula for students from 16 to 18 years old (Anexa nr. 2 la Ordinul ministrului educaţiei şi cercetării nr. 5959 / 22.12.2006, PROGRAME ŞCOLARE CICLUL SUPERIOR AL LICEULUI, LIMBA ŞI LITERATURA ROMÂNĂ, CLASA A XII-A, Aprobat prin ordinul ministrului Nr. 3252 / 13.02.2006, 2006) (the XIth, the XIIth forms) are unitary in point of general skills, of the values and attitudes which are promoted, as well as point of the two categories of contents: Literature; Language and Communication. It emphasizes among other aspects: developing advanced reading skills (synthetizing features of a literary movement, of a literary period…) being based on a chronological approach.
In order to notice how reading skills are developed according to the Romanian Curricula, we followed contrastively the skills required for all the age groups included as well as the examples of activities related to reading included by the curricula.
Thus, for the 4th form (students of 10 years old), the Romanian curriculum includes specific skills related to reading as well as learning activities, such as those presented in Table no. 1:
The texts to be used involve about 800 words and belong to different typologies: narrative, descriptive texts, short poetry, information and functional texts: tables, diagrams, maps, plans, postcards, invitations or, if possible SMS and e-mails.
For the Vth up to the VIIIth form (students from 11 to 14 years old), the Romanian curriculum includes specific skills related to reading as well as learning activities similar to the ones presented in the table below:
In point of contents, reading is seen from three points of view: The Book as a Cultural Object, Elements of Literary Theory (narration, description, dialogue, literary procedures, literary genres and species (partially), and Texts (Non-literary texts -the news, the train schedule, a show programme, the newspaper/magazine article, the advertisement text- and Literary texts).
The texts to be used involve about 2 pages and 5-7 literary texts including excerpts from Romanian well-known writers (in the Vth form), 6-8 literary texts including excerpts from Romanian well-known writers (in the VIth, the VIIth and the VIIIth forms).
The approach of the reading is different in the IXth form: the texts are thematically grouped and there are 8-10 works to be studied, belonging to different literary genres, epochs, Romanian authors. They depend on the teacher’s choice, but there is a list of suggested texts from different cultures.
As far as the skills are concerned, there is a grading from the IXth to the XIIth forms; in the Xth form, there are at least 13 literary texts belonging at least half of them to Romanian authors. As far as the literary texts are concerned, it is important to be an exchange among the students.
Comparing the curricula for all the three age groups taken into account, one can easily observe certain constants: all of the three emphasize the same types of contents, that is Literature and Language and Communication. As far as the shared values and attitudes are concerned, they differ slightly, their differenciation coming with the students’ age: if for the youngest, they aim at arousing the interest in/the pleasure for reading, for teenagers, they switch to the development of autonomous reflexive thinking or even to the autonomous reflexive critical thinking. The skill corresponding to reading is for all the categories the written comprehension of the text. The differences come from the number of texts to be studied varying from 5 to 13, their length or the concepts of literary theory involved at the respective level.
Apart from the general issues, there are also a cathegory of particular remarks which can be made out of the analysis of the above mentioned curricula, especially in point of contents. For instance, there is a list of compulsory authors (regarded as being the most representative ones for the Romanian culture) without compulsory works attached; however, students have to read and study one work by each author, but there is no statement telling how this work should be chosen and methodological reasons show that the choice is not the students’ but their teachers’ as the available teaching time does not allow studying deeply more than one single work belonging to an author. Most of the writers classified by the history of literature among the „classics” belong to the XIXth century Romanian culture and so are the realities described which brings out some difficulty in reading their work. On the other hand, specialists suggest that pupils should be let „choose their own reading materials whenever possible and [be provided] with a wide selection of texts”( Teaching Reading in Europe: contexts, policies and practices, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 2011, p. 41).
In order to increase motivation for reading and to develop the students’ reading skills, they should be able to find connections between what they know, what they are and what they read or, if the activities suggested by the curriculum are quite generous and allow students to get involved actively in their learning, things are different concerning the relations a teacher may establish between analysing compulsory literary texts and analysing other types of texts on one hand and between literary compulsory
authors and recent authors better known by students from their extra-curricular reading. Moreover,
students should be shown that reading as well as literature in general are nothing else but life facets and
they could learn more about themselves by learning more about fictional works and characters.
Another remark which can be done refers to the works’ study according to
study, that is the differences in point of curriculum for the Romanian language and literature between
students studying sciences and students studying humanities: the first and the most important difference is
related to the number of works studied; the others are related to grammar issues, to writing the foreword
for a book, discussing the favourite author’s books or specialised languages. Consequently, the
differences are minor in the contents.
The curriculum does not clearly propose reading promotion strategies or techniques for
works by comparing them with works coming from different artistic fields such as cinema or painting;
this idea is mentioned only for the high-school curricula and it could be regarded as a great opportunity to
bring students closer to reading, but the methodological are rather scarce.
Another issue which we consider important is that of
possibility of integrating/using them in order to develop reading skills, but unfortunately they are not
The review of the national curricula for the Romanian Language and Literature for three different
groups of age (10, 11 to 14, 14-16, 16-18) that is students belonging to
education (11-14) and of
shows some points in which they could be improved; we could mention here: the contents, the increasing
of students’ reading motivation, the possibility of making a difference in the science versus humanities
Romanian Language and Literature curriculum as well as of emphasizing more the reading for fun, the
interdisciplinary study which might connect literature to other arts or taking into account the new
technologies which, instead of preventing students from reading, could help them read.
We strongly consider that curricula should be revised more often and that steering documents
should generally focus as much as possible on the students’ interests and personal development especially
when it comes to reading and developing reading skills as these kinds of skills are useful not only during
school of for exams, but for the individual’s long life development and progress.
- Anexa nr. 1 la Ordinul Ministrului Educaţiei Naţionale nr. 5097 /09.09.2009, (2009), MINISTERUL EDUCAŢIEI NAŢIONALE Programa şcolară pentru disciplina LIMBA ŞI LITERATURA ROMÂNĂ CLASELE a V-a – a VIII-a Bucureşti, 10.
- Anexa nr. 1 la Ordinul Ministrului Educaţiei Naţionale nr. 5097 /09.09.2009 (2009), MINISTERUL EDUCAŢIEI NAŢIONALE Programa şcolară pentru disciplina LIMBA ŞI LITERATURA ROMÂNĂ CLASA a X-a Bucureşti, 12.
- Anexa nr. 2 la Ordinul Ministrului Educaţiei Naţionale nr. 5003 /02.12.2014, (2014), MINISTERUL EDUCAŢIEI NAŢIONALE Programa şcolară pentru disciplina LIMBA ŞI LITERATURA ROMÂNĂ CLASELE a III-a – a IV-a Bucureşti, 8.
- Anexa nr. 2 la Ordinul ministrului educaţiei şi cercetării nr. 3252 / 13.02.2006, (2006), PROGRAME ŞCOLARE CICLUL SUPERIOR AL LICEULUI, LIMBA ŞI LITERATURA ROMÂNĂ, CLASA A XI-A, Aprobat prin ordinul ministrului Nr. 3252 / 2006, 14.
- Anexa nr. 2 la Ordinul ministrului educaţiei şi cercetării nr. 5959 / 22.12.2006, (2006), PROGRAME ŞCOLARE CICLUL SUPERIOR AL LICEULUI, LIMBA ŞI LITERATURA ROMÂNĂ, CLASA A XII-A, Aprobat prin ordinul ministrului Nr. 3252 / 13.02.2006, 15.
- Cât, cum si ce citesc românii, octombrie 2012 (www.iwox.ro).
- Dima, S. (2000). Lectura literara – un model situational. Ars Longa. Iasi , 27.
- Literary Framework for Teachers in Secondary Education (http://www.literaryframework.eu/static/documents/key/6%20Final%20Report%20LiFT%20proje ct.pdf). Manguel, A. (1996). History of Reading. Penguin Books, 38.
- Manguel, A. (1996). History of Reading. Penguin Books, 38.
- Muresanu, M. (1996). Literatura ca discurs mediat, Editura Universitatii, Al.I.Cuza. Iasi, 87.
- Planul-cadru de învăţământ, aprobat cu numărul 3371/ 12.03.2013, 7.
- Teaching Reading in Europe (2011): Contexts, Policies and Practices, European Commission, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 47.
- Teaching Reading in Europe (2011): contexts, policies and practices, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 41, 26.
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