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Language and Literacy resources repository

“Sixty words per minute for all”: Why this goal for the early grades?

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.

A seven year study of the effects of synthetic phonics teaching on reading and spelling attainment

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.

An exploratory study of early letter-sound knowledge in a low socio-economic context in South Africa

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.

Are we country of cognitive genocide?

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".

Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development

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.

Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development

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.

CITE-ITEL

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.

Dialects matter: The influence of dialects and code-switching on the literacy and numeracy achievements of isiXhosa Grade 1 learners in the Western Cap

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.

Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS)

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.

Efficient learning for the poor: new insights into literacy acquisition for children.

Abadzi argues that reading depends on the speed of visual recognition and capacity of short term memory. To understand a sentence, the mind must read it fast enough to capture it within the limits of the short-term memory. This means that children must attain a minimum speed of fairly accurate reading to understand a passage. Learning to read involves “tricking” the brain into perceiving groups of letters as coherent words. This is achieved most efficiently by pairing small units consistently with sounds rather than learning entire words. To link the letters with sounds, explicit and extensive practice is needed; the more complex the spelling of a language, the more practice is necessary. All students should attain reading speeds of 45– 60 words per minute by the end of grade 2 and 120–150 words per minute for grades 6–8.

 
   
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