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Language and Literacy resources

When signals are lost in aggregation: a comparison of language marks and competencies of first-year university students
Authors: Fleisch, B., Schöer, V., and Cliff, A.
Published: 2015
Reference:

Fleisch, B., Schöer, V., and Cliff, A. 2015. When signals are lost in aggregation: a comparison of language marks and competencies of first-year university students. South African Journal of Higher Education, Volume 29, Issue 5, January 2015, pp. 156 - 178

A comparative analysis of National Senior Certificate marks and National Benchmark Test (NBT) Academic Literacy (AL) test results for a cohort of first-year education students at the University of the Witwatersrand, which showed that the same mark in English HL and FAL does not necessarily reflect the same level of English language academic competence as measured by the NBT AL test. On average, students who wrote the FAL papers scored between .5 and .9 of a standard deviation below students who wrote the HL paper (and probably need extensive and ongoing academic support).

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Reading, University
Impact of teachers’ practices on students’ reading comprehension growth in Guatemala
Authors: Rubio et al
Reference:

Rubio, F., de Véliz, L. R., Perdoma Mosquera, M. C., and Salanic López, V. 2017. Impact of teachers’ practices on students’ reading comprehension growth in Guatemala.   In: Gove, A., Mora, A. and McCardle, P. (Eds). 2017. Progress toward a literate world: Early reading interventions in low-income countries, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Volume 2017, Issue 155, pp. 67–76.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading, Language
Investigating the Comprehension Iceberg: Developing empirical benchmarks for early grade reading in agglutinating African language
Authors: Spaull, N., Pretorius, E., and Mohohlwane, N.
Published: 2018
Reference:

Spaull, N. Pretorius, E., and Mohohlwane, N. 2018. Investigating the Comprehension Iceberg: Developing empirical benchmarks
for early grade reading in agglutinating African languages. RESEP Working Paper Series No. WP01/2018. Stellenbosch: University of Stellenbosch

Investigating the Comprehension Iceberg: Developing empirical benchmarks for early grade reading in agglutinating African languages

Annotation:

Report on an assessment survey using an adaptation of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA)with 785 Grade 3 learners across three languages (Northern Sotho, Tsonga and Zulu) that showed that there were large differences in reading results on fluency, accuracy and oral comprehension between languages with conjunctive and disjunctive orthographies. Te results suggest that there are minimum words correct per minute (wcpm) rates for each language, below which it is virtually impossible to read for meaning - 52-66 wcpm for Northern Sotho, 39-48 wcpm for Tsonga nad 20-32 wcpm for Zulu. The authors argue that there is a strong need for empirical language-specific norms and benchmarks for African languages.

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Reading, African languages
Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World
Authors: Salzburg Global Seminar
Published: 2018
Reference:

Salzburg Global Seminar. 2018. Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a
Globalized World. Salzburg: Salzburg Global Seminar

The Salzburg Global Seminar convened the session Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World in Salzburg, Austria, in December 2017. The five-day session resulted in the Salzburg Statement for a Multilingual World, which has since been translated into more than 50 languages. Together, the more than 40 representatives from policy, academia, civil society and business, representing over 25 countries looked specifically at language policy through the lenses of social justice and social cohesion; the relationship between multilingualism and dynamic and entrepreneurial societies; the role of language policy in achieving the fourth Sustainable Development Goal for quality education; and the evolving role of technology in this field.

Keywords: Literacy, Language, Reading
Lifewide learning for early reading development
Authors: Dowd, A.J. et al
Published: 2017
Reference:

Dowd, A. J., Friedlander, E., Jonason, C., Leer, J., Sorensen, L. Z., Guajardo, J., D’Sa, N., Pava, C., and Pisani, L. 2017. Lifewide learning for early reading development. In: Gove, A., Mora, A. and McCardle, P. (Eds). 2017. Progress toward a literate world: Early reading interventions in low-income countries, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Volume 2017, Issue 155, pp. 31–49.

A large scale study of the influence of the home and community literacy environments in Asia and Africa that found that a modest but consistent relationship between students’ home literacy environments and reading scores, and a strong relationship between reading gains and participation in community reading activities.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
Working toward a more literate world: Reading intervention commentary
Authors: Lovett, M.
Published: 2017
Reference:

Lovett, M. W. 2017. Working toward a more literate world: Reading intervention commentary. In: Gove, A., Mora, A. and McCardle, P. (Eds). 2017. Progress toward a literate world: Early reading interventions in low-income countries, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Volume 2017, Issue 155, pp. 131-141

A commentary on the evidence coming out of evidence-based practices in early reading instruction and intervention in low- and middle income countries In Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
Great expectations: A framework for assessing and understanding key factors affecting student learning of foundational reading skills
Authors: Moore, A.-M. et al
Published: 2017
Reference:

Moore, A.-M., Gove, A., and Tietjen, K. 2017. Great expectations: A framework for assessing and understanding key factors affecting student learning of foundational reading skills.  In: Gove, A., Mora, A. and McCardle, P. (Eds). 2017. Progress toward a literate world: Early reading interventions in low-income countries, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Volume 2017, Issue 155, pp. 13–30.

Keywords: Reading, Literacy, Language
The Threshold Project
Authors: Macdonald, C. et al
Published: 1993

A major study conducted in the late 1980s into the nature of the language and learning difficulties experienced by Grade Five learners when the medium of instruction changed from mother tongue to English.

Annotation:

The Threshold Project began in 1985 with a pilot project conducted by the Institute for Research into Language and the Arts (IRLA). Funding was then obtained for the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) (at Rhodes University) to undertake a three year research study. The study included language teaching and testing theory, cross-cultural cognitive development research, materials development, and observation of classroom practice. The problem addressed by the project was the nature of the language and learning difficulties experienced by Standard Three (Grade Five) when the medium of instruction changed from mother tongue to English.

Five final reports and a Consolidated Main Report were produced from 1990 to 1993.


Macdonald, C.A. 1990. Crossing the Threshold into Standard Three in Black Education. The Consolidated Main Report of the Threshold Project. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council

Macdonald, C.A. 1990. “How many years do you have? English language skills evaluation. A final report of the Threshold Project. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council

Macdonald, C.A. 1990. Ballpoint pens and braided hair: An analysis of reasoning skills and the curriculum. A final report of the Threshold Project. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council

Macdonald, C.A. 1990. Swimming up the waterfall: A study of school-based learning experiences. A final report of the Threshold Project. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council

van Rooyen, W. 1990. The disparity between English as a subject and English as a medium of learning. A final report of the Threshold Project. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council

Langham, D.P. 1993. The textbook as a source of difficulty in teaching and learning.  A final report of the Threshold Project. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council

Keywords: Literacy, Language, Reading, English
Finding the plot in South African reading education
Authors: Rule, P. and Land, S
Published: 2017
Reference:

Rule, P. and Land. S. 2017. Finding the plot in South African reading education, Reading & Writing, Vol.  8, Issue 1., Article 121.

This article argues that we have lost the plot in South African reading education. To find it, we need to move beyond the predominant mode of reading as oral performance, where the emphasis is on accuracy and pronunciation, to reading as comprehension of meaning in text. While reading research in South Africa has been conducted mainly in school contexts, this case study is of a school and Adult Basic Education and Training Centre in a rural KwaZulu-Natal community near Pietermaritzburg. It found that an oratorical approach to reading dominated in both settings. It suggests that developing the way in which teachers understand the teaching of reading and transforming the teaching practices of those who teach as they were taught in the education system of the apartheid era are key to improving the teaching of reading.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
Proxies and perplexities: What is the current state of adult (il)literacy in South Africa?
Authors: Aitchison, J.
Published: 2016
Reference:

Aitchison, J. 2016. Proxies and perplexities: What is the current state of adult (il)literacy in South Africa? Journal of Education, Issue 66, pp. 111-138

This article provides a detailed analysis of the data from a range of official sources that have been used to enumerate the number of people who can be described as totally or functionally illiterate and estimates whether illiteracy in South Africa can be reduced in the foreseeable future

Keywords: Literacy
Why Jaydon can't read: the triumph of ideology over evidence in teaching reading
Authors: Buckingham, J., Wheldall, K., and Beaman-Wheldall
Published: 2018
Reference:

Buckingham, J., Wheldall, K., and Beaman-Wheldall, R. 2013. Why Jaydon can't read: the triumph of ideology over evidence in teaching reading. Policy, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 21-32

A lively discussion of the entrenched rate of illiteracy among Australian children which identifies a failure in the institutions teaching reading educators to accept evidence-based science on the effective teaching of reading which has five main components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension..

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
Reading in African languages - an Annotated Bibliography
Authors: Pretorius, E.J.
Published: 2018

This annotated bibliography was compiled by Professor Lilli Pretorius of UNISA as part of the Primary Teacher Education Project (PrimTEd). It gives a summary account of research that has been done on reading in African languages from 2004 to 2017, more specifically on languages belonging mainly to the family of Southern African Bantu languages. It comprises over 40 annotated entries, mainly research articles from accredited journals, chapters from books and postgraduate dissertations or theses, and also lists several other sources closely related to reading in the African languages. Originally compiled in 2017, it is designed in such a way that new entries can be added to it as new research emerges, and it will be regularly updated.

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Reading
The Salzburg Statement for a Multilingual World
Authors: Salzburg Global Seminar
Published: 2017
Reference:

Salzburg Global Seminar. 2017. The Salzburg Statement for a Multilingual World. Salzburg: Salzburg Global Seminar

This statement, made by the participants in the Salzburg Global Seminar’s session on Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World (12–17 December 2017), calls for policies that value and uphold multilingualism and language rights. It has been translated into all South African official languages.

Keywords: Language, Literacy
Are we country of cognitive genocide?
Authors: Aitchison, J.
Published: 2018

Full version of an article published in a condensed form by The Conversation on 26 February 2018 as "South Africa’s reading crisis is a cognitive catastrophe".

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
Teach in first language, it’s key to success
Authors: Dikotla, M.
Published: 2018
Reference:

Dikotla, M. 2018. Teach in first language, it’s key to success. Mail and Guardian, 2 February 2018

Opinion piece by the Director of the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy on why switching to second-language teaching too early places pupils at a great disadvantage.

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Reading, English, Primary
What’s Hot in Literacy. 2018 Report
Authors: International Literacy Association
Published: 2018
Reference:

International Literacy Association. 2018. What’s Hot in Literacy. 2018 Report. Newark, Delaware: International Literacy Association

A useful guide to what topics “literacy experts” (mainly teachers and reading/literacy specialists in the United States, Canada, Phillippines, Australia and Nigeria) are currently most interested in and what they consider most important.

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Reading
Why the New Zealand National Literacy Strategy has failed and what can be done about it.
Authors: Tunmer et al
Published: 2013
Reference:

Tunmer, E., Chapman, J.W., Greaney, K.T., Prochnow, J.E. and Arrow A.W.  2013.  Why the Language and Literacy resources repository New Zealand National Literacy Strategy has failed and what can be done about it. Auckland, New Zealand: Massey University Institute of Education

Responding to evidence from PIRLS 2011 and Reading Recovery monitoring data that New Zealand’s 1999 National Literacy Strategy had failed, the authors look at the factors causing the failure (a constructivist orientation towards literacy education with a lack of attention to phonemic awareness and alphabetic coding skills, lack of response to differences in literate cultural capital, and policies on the first year of literacy teaching resistant to providing explicit instruction and assessment) and review more effective strategies based on contemporary theory and research.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading, Language
My fish died and I flushed him down the toilet”: Children disrupt preservice teachers’ understandings of “appropriate” picture books for young children
Authors: Dixon, K. and Janks, H.
Published: 2018
Reference:

Dixon, K. and Janks, H.  2018. “My fish died and I flushed him down the toilet”: Children disrupt preservice teachers’ understandings of  “appropriate” picture books for young children. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, Vol. 20, pp. 1-17

A study of the relationship between pre-service teachers’ conceptions of children and of picture books in the context of little material on picture books in curricula for teacher education.

Keywords: Literacy, Language, Reading
Putting reading in Northern Sotho on track in the early years: Changing resources, expectations and practices in a high poverty school
Authors: Pretorius, E. J. and Mokhwesana, M.M.
Published: 2009
Reference:

Pretorius, E. J. and Mokhwesana, M.M. 2009. Putting reading in Northern Sotho on track in the early years: Changing resources, expectations and practices in a high poverty schoolSouth African Journal of African Languages, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp. 54- 73

Groundbreaking study of a grade 1 reading intervention in a high poverty school over a four year period that found that improvements in reading in the African languages are dependent on changes in instructional practices in classrooms.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading, Language
Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS)
Authors: Department of Basic Education
Published: 2017

This research study sought to examine the results of three interventions to improve teachers’ instructional practice – one with block training twice a year (which included provision of scripted lesson plans, materials and training), another with the same block training and ongoing support from a reading coach, and a third involving parents. The intervention with reading coaches was found to be a critical component in the persistence of gains.

Annotation:

This significant study was the first systematic large-scale Randomised Control Trail (RCT) study undertaken in South Africa, to compare the cost-effectiveness of three different intervention models on early literacy performance in an African Home Language, Tswana. This study tracked 4 500 children (20 each from 230 schools), most of whom came from homes that typically had few books and a limited engagement by parents or caregivers with the learners in reading activities.  One component was observations of 60-school lessons in intervention and control group schools. Another was two sets of detailed case studies in six rural and urban schools that looked at changes in teachers’ instructional practices as the result of the two interventions. An impact study looked  at who benefited from the three types of intervention and the different impact of the interventions on different types of learners and schools and made a number of recommendations.

A number of reports were issued by the EGRS in 2017:

 

 

Department of Basic Education. 2017. The Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS). Infographic.  Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

Department of Basic Education. 2017. Classroom observation study. The Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS). August 2017. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

Department of Basic Education. 2017. The Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS): In-depth case studies of home language literacy practices in four Grade 2 classrooms in Treatment 1 and 2 schools (October 2016 to January 2017). Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

Department of Basic Education. 2017. Family influences on early grade reading. The Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS). August 2017. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

Department of Basic Education. 2017. The Early Grade Reading Study. Impact evaluation after two years of interventions. Technical Report. 13 October 2017. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

Department of Basic Education. 2017. Summary Report. Results of Year 2 Impact Evaluation. August 2017. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

Department of Basic Education. 2017. Policy summary. Results of Year 2 Impact Evaluation. The Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS): August 2017. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading, Language, Primary
Initial Teacher Education Research Project
Authors: Initial Teacher Education Research Project
Published: 2016
Reference:

Deacon, R. 2016. The Initial Teacher Education Research Project: Final Report. Johannesburg: JET Education Services

Reed, Y. 2014. The Initial Teacher Education Research Project: Report on English courses for Intermediate Phase student teachers at five universities. Johannesburg: JET Education Services

The ITERP project – a collaboration between the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Education Deans' Forum, and JET Education Services – was to gather up-to-date information on the state of initial teacher education (ITE) in South Africa and to examine the extent to which the ITE programmes offered by universities are adequately preparing teachers to teach in South African schools.

Annotation:

Deacon, R. 2016. The Initial Teacher Education Research Project: Final Report. Johannesburg: JET Education Services

 

Reed, Y. 2014. The Initial Teacher Education Research Project: Report on English courses for Intermediate Phase student teachers at five universities. Johannesburg: JET Education Services

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Reading, Teacher Education
Papers on the Core Academic Language Skills Instrument (CALS-I)
Authors: Ucelli, P. et al
Published: 2015

The Core Academic Language Skills Instrument (CALS-I) was designed by the Institute of Education Sciences of the United States Department of Education to measure high utility academic language skills hypothesized to support reading comprehension across the content areas in grades 4 through 8.

Annotation:

Uccelli, P., Barr. C.D., Dobbs, C.L., Galloway, E.P., Meneses, A., and Sánchez, E. 2015.  Core academic language skills: An expanded operational construct and a novel instrument to chart school-relevant language proficiency in preadolescent and adolescent learners. Applied Psycholinguistics, Volume 36 (2015), pp. 1077–1109

Argues that the construct of core academic language skills (CALLS) tested with 235 fourth to eighth grade students with an innovative instrument (the CALS-I) was found to be predictive of reading comprehension.

Uccelli, P., Galloway, E.P., Barr. C.D., Meneses, A., and Dobbs, C.L. 2015.    Beyond Vocabulary: Exploring cross-disciplinary Academic-Language Proficiency and its association with Reading Comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp. 337–356

Another study on the core academic language skills (CALS) construct which was found to be an independent predictor of reading comprehension even after controlling for academic vocabulary knowledge, word reading fluency, and socio-demographic factors.

Uccelli, P., Barr. C.D., and Galloway, E.P., 2016. Core Academic Language Skills Instrument (CALS-I): Final Report

Description of development and validation of the Core Academic Language Skills Instrument (CALS-I) used to measure a comprehensive set of high-utility language skills that are relevant across content areas. CALS-I is normed for English proficient students attending urban public schools in grades 4 to 8.


Uccelli, P., and Galloway, E.P. 2016.  Academic language across content areas: lessons from an innovative assessment and from students’ reflections about language. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp. 395-404

Popular level description of development and validation of the Core Academic Language Skills Instrument (CALS-I) that concludes that CALS is an important component of students' reading skills and that schools need to target the development of these skills, given that large proportions of students have not yet developed the language skills to understand many of the
linguistic features that heavily populate most of their school texts.

Keywords: Literacy, Language
Skilled reading in isiZulu: what can we learn from it?
Authors: Land, S.
Published: 2015
Reference:

Land, S. 2015. Skilled reading in isiZulu: what can we learn from it? Journal of Education, No. 63, 2015

Study of what the orthography of isiZulu requires of readers. As an agglutinative language with a conjoined writing system, isiZulu carries meaning not only in separate words, but also in morphemes that cluster together, forming long complex words. Eye tracking data shows that competent adult readers of isiZulu move their eyes across text in saccades (shifts of the point of focus) that are short in comparison with the saccades of efficient reading of English. It also shows that readers of isiZulu fixate on points of text for longer periods than do readers of English. The key argument of the paper is that the orthography of isiZulu has features that require attention by teachers of reading if their learners are to benefit from the advantages that reading in their first language should bring.

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Reading
Towards competency standards for language and literacy teachers
Authors: Aitchison, J., Dixon, K., Pretorius, E., Reed, Y. and Verbeek, C.
Published: 2018
Reference:

Consolidated Literacy Working Group. 2018. Towards competency standards for language and literacy teachers. Unpublished document

A position paper of the Consolidated Literacy Working Group of PrimTEd on its approach to standards for language and literacy teachers

Keywords: Literacy, Reading, Standards