Last year, for my Masters in Education at the University of Cambridge, I carried out a research project exploring the reading strategies that children with English as an Additional Language (EAL), and monolingual children with English as a first language, use in a paired reading task. Motivating my research was a recent report I read, which shows that the achievement gap in core subjects between pupils with English as a first language, and pupils with EAL, is largest for reading.
When city planners in Portland, Oregon, were looking for ideas to make public spaces more inviting to youths across the region, they turned right to the source. Tyler White, a junior at De La Salle North Catholic High School, teamed up with a diverse group of students from several area schools to research and develop a detailed action plan for youth inclusion.
These days, I live and work in Ireland. Near my home, is Newgrange – a huge mound of rock and earth that’s over 5,000 years old. At dawn, on the shortest day of the year, everyone gathers to see the sun’s first light shine along a passage and light up a chamber in the mound.
This special moment reminds me of how our classrooms should be. We should connect them to the wider world beyond their walls. We should allow light to shine in from outside.
Extensive reading is based on the well-established premise that we learn to read by reading. This is true for learning to read our first language as well as foreign languages. In teaching foreign language reading, an extensive reading approach allows students to read, read, and read some more.
When EFL students read extensively, they become fluent readers. But there is more. Studies have established that EFL students increase their vocabulary, and become better writers.
About the webinar
It’s often seen as the poor relation in language learning, but as technology changes the way we communicate, our writing skills become more important. In this webinar we’ll look at ideas that can help our students develop their writing skills.
This article follows a previous article, in which I introduced the research project I carried out as part of my Master’s degree in research in second language education. In my study, I explored the scaffolding strategies that children with English as an Additional Language (EAL), and monolingual children with English as a first language, use in a collaborative reading task. I paired an EAL pupil with either an older EAL pupil, or an older monolingual pupil, and I recorded the children as they read together. Underlying my research was the belief that literacy should not only be viewed as a set of skills, but also as a social practice, meaning that the role of a reader’s lived experience plays an important role in comprehension.
Brian Sztabnik says, “I have taught English on the secondary level for the past 12 years, and for many of those years I taught books only one way: I would hand out a set of novels, and study guides to go along with them. In class we would do close readings and go over the study guide questions, and, of course, as an English teacher I was compelled to pick apart all those symbols.
There were quizzes along the way and a big test at the end, all of which assessed the same topics we covered in class, and mimicked many of the questions on the study guide. Once we finished one book, we would move on to the next. It was lather, rinse, repeat.
While I may be painting a uninspired picture, this traditional approach certainly has its benefits: With a common text, skills can be targeted and taught with examples that everyone recognizes. Whole-class discussions are more vibrant and engaging since everyone has (theoretically) read the same book, and everyone has the potential to participate. It’s also much easier to assess. [Read more…]