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Language and Literacy resources

“Sixty words per minute for all”: Why this goal for the early grades?
Authors: Abadzi, H.
Published: 2010
Reference:

“Abadzi, H. 2010. Sixty words per minute for all”: Why this goal for the early grades?   Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Human Development Network Fast Track

Short paper arguing that failure to learn reading is the primary reason for repetition in the early grades. Students cannot learn from books until they can read fluently, and they may even be unable to solve verbal problems written in maths books. Abadzi argues that by by the end of grade 1 students should be able to read very common words, albeit haltingly. By the end of grade 2 at the latest, students should be reading simple texts fluently, at a rate of at least 60 words per minute.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
A history of disputes about reading instruction
Authors: Hempenstall, K.
Published: 2013
Reference:

Hempenstall, K. 2013. A history of disputes about reading instruction.

Discusses the disputes internationally and in Australia on how reading is taught and raises the important issue of the lack of impact of research on teaching practice.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
A seven year study of the effects of synthetic phonics teaching on reading and spelling attainment
Authors: Johnston, R.S. and Watson, J.E.
Published: 2005
Reference:

Johnston, R.S. and Watson, J.E.  2005. A seven year study of the effects of synthetic phonics teaching on reading and spelling attainment. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Education Department

The report of a groundbreaking, seven-year research trial that was a powerful influence on the British government adopting systematic phonics as the best foundation for teaching children to read at primary school. The study involved dividing around 300 Primary aged children into three groups. One group was taught via the synthetic phonics method, one by a standard analytic phonics programme, and the third by an analytics phonics programme which included systematic phonemic awareness teaching without reference to print. The outcomes of the study proved overwhelmingly that the synthetic phonics approach is more effective than the analytic phonics approach. At the end of the programme, the synthetic phonics-taught group were reading and spelling seven months ahead of their expected level. It has also proven to help close the gender gap with boys’ word reading accelerating. The synthetic phonics method as implemented in the study involved, right from the start of school, children learning a small number of letter sounds and using that knowledge right away to sound and blend the letters to find out how to pronounce unfamiliar words. They then rapidly learnt more letter sounds and continued to use the strategy. The study found that these children had much better reading and phonological awareness skills than those taught either by analytic phonics, or by analytic phonics plus phonological awareness.

Keywords: Reading, Literacy
An exploratory study of early letter-sound knowledge in a low socio-economic context in South Africa
Authors: O'Carroll, S.
Published: 2011
Reference:

O'Carroll, S. 2011.  An exploratory study of early letter-sound knowledge in a low socio-economic context in South Africa.  Reading and Writing, Volume 2, Number 1, pp. 7-25 

A South African research study that argues for the importance of letter-sound knowledge in the earliest stages of children learning to read and in particular for children who come from poor socio-economic family backgrounds. She examines an intervention that focused on the teaching of letter-sound knowledge to pre-school children in the context of building language skills, emergent literacy and understanding print. She suggests that there is an urgent need for quality teacher training programmes for teachers of pre-school children.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading, Early childhood development (ECD)
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
At a Loss for Words: How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers
Authors: Hanford, E.
Published: 2019
Reference:
Hanford, E. 2019. At a Loss for Words: How a flawed idea is teaching millions of kids to be poor readers. St Paul. Minnesota: American Public Media, APMreports
 

https://www.apmreports.org/story/2019/08/22/whats-wrong-how-schools-teach-reading

Critique of whole language and balanced literacy approaches to teaching reading. Has a rich set of URLs to useful sources.

Keywords: Reading, Literacy
Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development
Authors: Wong, M.
Published: 2015
Reference:

Wong, M. 2015. Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development, Psychology & Psychiatry, 29 May 2015

Report on a study done at the University of Stanford that shows how different literacy teaching methods affect reading development. Beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, instead of trying to learn whole words, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading, according to the Stanford research investigating how the brain responds to different types of reading instruction.

Keywords: Literacy
Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development
Authors: Wong, M.
Published: 2015
Reference:

Wong, M. 2015. Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development. Psychology & Psychiatry, May 29, 2015

Popular report on Stanford University research led by Bruce McCandliss that provides some of the first evidence that a specific teaching strategy for reading has direct neural impact. Beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, instead of trying to learn whole words, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading.

Keywords: Reading, Literacy
CITE-ITEL
Authors: University of Texas at Austin
Published: 2017
Reference:

CITE-ITEL. A critical, interactive, transparent & evolving literature review in initial teacher education in literacy. (Access date). Retrieved from: https://cite.edb.utexas.edu/

CITE-TEL is a web-based resource, the Critical, Interactive, Transparent & Evolving literature review in Initial Teacher Education in Literacy, hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. It seeks to list the research literature that is focused on initial teacher preparation in literacy and provides a forum for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to engage with this growing body of research.

Annotation:

This project is operating under the direction of faculty, doctoral students, and recent graduates from the Language and Literacy at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with the Literacy Research Association.

CITE-ITEL has  focused on the identification of empirical studies of initial teacher preparation in the area of literacy from the period 2000-2016. The current CITE-ITEL system includes over 700 published reports of research on initial teacher preparation in literacy and is growing.

Based on the analysis of these studies a set of topical areas has been identified. Studies, with relevant findings, have been linked to these topic areas. For each of the topic areas, synthesis statements that summarize the findings in each of the areas have been written. New topic areas will be created as research expands. The synthesis statements will be updated on an annual basis.

At the top of each page, are several links that take you into CITE-ITEL based on your interest. 

The Articles link will take you to all of the articles that are currently included in the CITE-ITEL data-base. The articles are organized alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If you are looking for a specific article or author, you can use the search box to locate the article or the author. If you click on the article entry, you will be taken to the article analysis page.

The Journals link operates in a similar way. The journals are listed alphabetically and you can search the system.  If you follow the link to a specific journal you will see the articles that have been published that are part of our data-base.

The Categories link will take you to into the structure we use within the system to reflect the focus for the articles.  Each article is linked to these major topics with Categories that are nested within Topics.  Following the link to any of these categories will give you a list of the articles that have been linked to that Topic. These links were made as part of the article analysis.

The Synthesis link will take you to the categories that have been synthesized.  There are currently eight syntheses ready to view on the system.

 

CITE-ITEL

 

Keywords: Literacy, Language, Reading, Initial teacher education
Consolidating research and comparing practice: What funders need to know for meaningful engagement with literacy in South Africa. Research Brief.
Authors: Shiora, K
Published: 2019
Reference:

Shiora, K. 2019. Consolidating research and comparing practice: What funders need to know for meaningful engagement with literacy in South Africa. Research Brief. Johannesburg: JET Education Services

Excellent overview of research and practice in South African literacy education in schools. It also looks at current state and NGO programme and project interventions and makes a number of recommendations for research, development and action.

Keywords: Literacy
Dialects matter: The influence of dialects and code-switching on the literacy and numeracy achievements of isiXhosa Grade 1 learners in the Western Cap
Authors: Mtsatse, N. and Combrink, C.
Published: 2018
Reference:

Mtsatse, N. and Combrink, C. 2018. Dialects matter: The influence of dialects and code-switching on the literacy and numeracy achievements of isiXhosa Grade 1 learners in the Western Cape. Journal of Education, Issue 72, pp. 20-37

A study of the influence of different dialects and code-switching on the literacy and numeracy achievements of isiXhosa Grade 1 learners in the Western Cape which found that many teachers did not use the standardised isiXhosa though they believed that dialects should not be used in the classroom. Many teachers had little or no knowledge about how to teach early reading in isiXhosa and use dialects as an aid. Learners who speak a dialect different from the standardised one start at a significant disadvantage. The authors argue for the standardisation of African languages, teacher training and development and better resource allocation and development of appropriate texts.

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Numeracy, Mathematics
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
Ending the Reading Wars: Reading acquisition from novice to expert
Authors: Castles, A., Rastle, K. and Nation, K.
Published: 2018
Reference:

Castles, A., Rastle, K., and Nation, K. 2018. Ending the Reading Wars: Reading acquisition from novice to expert. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 2018, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 5-51.

An exceedingly thorough and comprehensive up to date review of the science of learning to read, spanning from children’s earliest alphabetic skills through to the fluent word recognition and skilled text comprehension characteristic of expert readers. Phonics is highlighted as central to learning in a writing system such as English but other research is reviewed on what else children need to learn to become expert readers. Consideration is also given to how these findings might be translated into effective classroom practice.

Keywords: Literacy, Language
Exploring relationships between Oral Reading Fluency and comprehension amongst ESL learners in South Africa
Authors: Spaull, N. and Pretorius, E.
Published: 2015
Reference:

Spaul, N. and Pretorius, E. 2015. Exploring relationships between Oral Reading Fluency and comprehension amongst ESL learners in South Africa. Presentation to Economic Society of South Africa, University of Cape on 4 September 2015

Conference presentation on Oral Reading Fluency and its correlation with comprehension among EFAL learners in South Africa

Keywords: Literacy, Reading, Language
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
Foundation and Intermediate Phase B.Ed. programmes at selected South African universities: languages and literacies components
Authors: Reed, Y. (Comp.)
Published: 2019
Reference:

Reed, Y.  (Comp.) 2019. Foundation and Intermediate Phase B.Ed. programmes at selected South African universities: languages and literacies components.

To inform the work of the Primary Teacher Education Project the Literacy Working Group conducted an audit of language and literacy teacher education at ten South African universities in the 2017 to 2018. In addition an analysis was made of the Bachelor of Education modules taught in sixteen universities. The final report was compiled by Professor Yvonne Reed of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Curriculum, Initial teacher education
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
Hard Words: Why aren't kids being taught to read?
Authors: Hanford, E.
Published: 2018
Reference:

Hanford, E. 2018. Hard Words: Why aren't kids being taught to read? St Paul, Minnesota: American Public Media, APMreports

https://www.apmreports.org/story/2018/09/10/hard-words-why-american-kids-arent-being-taught-to-read

Popular article from the United States of America that argues that, thought scientific research has shown how children learn to read and how they should be taught, many educators and teacher educators do not known the science and, in some cases, actively resist it. As as a result, millions of children are set up to fail.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
How psychological science informs the teaching of reading
Authors: Rayner, K., Foorman, B., Perfetti, C., Pesetsky, D. and Seidenberg, M.
Published: 2001
Reference:

Rayner, K., Foorman, B., Perfetti, C., Pesetsky, D. and Seidenberg, M. 2001. How psychological science informs the teaching of reading. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Vol. 2. No. 2, November 2001, pp. 31-74

Detailed paper on the experiments showing the phonic basis of reading.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
How should reading be taught?
Authors: Rayner, K., Foorman, B., Perfetti, C., Pesetsky, D. and Seidenberg, M.
Published: 2002
Reference:

Rayner, K., Foorman, B., Perfetti, C., Pesetsky, D. and Seidenberg, M. 2002. How should reading be taught? Scientific American, March., pp. 84-91 Scientific American, March., pp. 84-91

Popular article on their research showing the phonic basis of reading.

Keywords: Reading, Literacy
Illiteracy: The neuropsychology of cognition without reading
Authors: Ardila, A., Bertolucci, P.H., Lucia W. Braga, L.W., Castro-Caldas, A., Judd, T., Mary H., Kosmidis, M.H., Matute, E., Nitrini, R., Ostrosky-Solis, F. and Rosselli, M
Published: 2010
Reference:

Ardila, A., Bertolucci, P.H., Lucia W. Braga, L.W., Castro-Caldas, A., Judd, T., Mary H., Kosmidis, M.H., Matute, E., Nitrini, R., Ostrosky-Solis, F. and Rosselli, M. 2010. Illiteracy: The neuropsychology of cognition without reading. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, Volume 25, pp. 689-712 

This literature review records that learning to read reinforces and modifies certain fundamental abilities, such as verbal and visual memory, phonological awareness, and visuospatial and visuomotor skills and that that literacy and education influence the pathways used by the brain for problem-solving. It includes an interesting finding that learning to read in adulthood is a process supported by different brain structures from the ones used when learning occurs at the usual age in childhood.

Keywords: Reading, Literacy
Impact of teachers’ practices on students’ reading comprehension growth in Guatemala
Authors: Rubio et al
Published: 2017
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
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: Reading, Teacher eduction and training, Language, Literacy
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
Laying firm foundations: getting reading right
Authors: Spaull, N., van der Berg, S., Wills, G., Gustafsson, M. and Kotzé, J.
Published: 2016
Reference:

Spaull, N., van der Berg, S., Wills, G., Gustafsson, M. and Kotzé, J. 2016. Laying firm foundations: getting reading right. Stellenbosch: Research on Socio-Economic Policy, University of Stellenbosch and Zenex Foundation

Final Report to the ZENEX Foundation on poor student performance in Foundation Phase literacy and numeracy which includes policy recommendations

Keywords: Language, Literacy, Numeracy, Foundation, Primary
Learning to read and reading to learn
Authors: Spaull, N.
Published: 2016
Reference:

Spaull, N. 2016. Learning to read and reading to learn. University of Stellenbosch, Department of Economics. RESEP Policy Brief April 2016. RESEP Policy Brief 

Succinct description of the data on early reading in South Africa with five policy recommendations

Keywords: Reading, Literacy
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
Literacy acquisition: Some general findings from recent research
Authors: Abadzi, H.
Published: 2008
Reference:

Abadzi, H. 2006. Literacy acquisition: some general findings from recent research. Adapted from: Abadzi, H. 2006. Literacy acquisition and the biology of reading. In: Abadzi, H. 2006. Efficient learning for the poor: insights from the frontier of cognitive neuroscience. Washington, DC: The World Bank, pp. 36-49

A summary of a key chapter on literacy acquisition from Helena Abadzi’s well known book.

Keywords: Reading, Literacy
Literacy: a cultural influence on functional left-right differences in the inferior parietal cortex
Authors: Petersson, K.M., Silva, C., Castro-Caldas, A., Ingvar, M. and Reis, A.
Published: 2007
Reference:

Petersson, K.M., Silva, C., Castro-Caldas, A., Ingvar, M. and Reis, A. 2007. Literacy: a cultural influence on functional left-right differences in the inferior parietal cortex. European Journal of Neuroscience, 2007, pp. 1-9

A study showing that the brains of illiterates are consistently more right-lateralized than with literates and that, therefore, literacy influences the functional hemispheric balance in reading and verbal working memory-related regions of the brain. The brains of literates have greater white matter densities suggesting that literacy has an influence on large-scale brain connectivity.

Keywords: Literacy, Reading
 
   
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