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EXTENSIVE READING ON A BUDGET. Kindra Santamaria and Marie Schein Texas Christian University. Increasingly common budget cuts. Budget cuts and program reductions are common in foreign language programs
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EXTENSIVE READING ON A BUDGET Kindra Santamaria and Marie Schein Texas Christian University
Increasingly common budget cuts • Budget cuts and program reductions are common in foreign language programs • Educators must choose among the time and resources they have to spend on each of the four skills • Teachers are beginning to look for opportunities to supplement language instruction outside of the classroom
a solution: extensive reading • Extensive reading is gaining recognition as one possible way to engage students in the language outside of class (i.e. Elley, 2000; Tanaka & Stapleton, 2007). • Extensive reading = reading for enjoyment • Quicker than intensive reading (reading to learn) • One important benefit – vocabulary acquisition
The vocabulary deficit: learning to read in the l2 • The L2 learner has • An implicit understanding that all languages have morphology, syntax, and phonology • Previous experience with literary genres • L1 reading strategies • Hardly any vocabulary • children learn1,000 - 5,000 words per year in their L1 (Graves & Watts-Taffe, 2002), with many of those estimates between 2,000 and 4,000 • L2 students cannot acquire this many new words each year unless they read in the L2 a great deal outside of the classroom (Cunningham, 2005; Grabe, 2009).
Characteristics of an extended reading program (day & bamford, 2002) • The reading material is easy. • A variety of reading material on a wide range of topics must be available. • Learners choose what they want to read. • Learners read as much as possible. • The purpose of reading is usually related to pleasure, information and general understanding. • Reading is its own reward. • Reading speed is usually faster rather than slower. • Reading is individual and silent. • Teachers orient and guide their students. • The teacher is a role model of a reader.
Fluency can be expensive • The goal of Day & Bamford’s program is fluency (students reading rapidly and automatically). • They argue that fluency cannot be achieved unless students are reading level-appropriate texts. • They must understand 98% of the vocabulary in the text (Hu & Nation, 2000). • To acquire L2 level-appropriate texts, one must purchase a library of graded and/or authentic texts that vary in level and literary genre
Fluency can be expensive: non-english studies • Hitosugi and Day(2004) created an extensive reading program for second semester learners of Japanese • They used a grant to fund the purchase of Japanese children’s books. • Rankin (2005) designed a program for an honors intermediate German course • He purchased varying levels of two different graded German easy reader series • Rodrigo, Krashen, and Gribbons ( 2004) created two fourth semester Spanish courses that contained both self-selected readings and assigned readings • They purchased authentic and graded texts
Our modified program • No money to create the extensive reading library? • We adhered to all of Day & Bamford’s characteristics except the first. • Instead of purchasing level-appropriate texts, we had our students read from journals and newspapers already present in our university library • Can students benefit from reading texts that are not level-appropriate?
Another modified extensive reading program: arnold (2009) • for advanced learners of German • Students read online articles of their choice for seven 75 minute periods during the semester. • Students were allowed to use dictionaries • Results • Students picked a wide variety of topics that may not have been available in a graded reader program. • Students enjoyed the program and reported understanding 84% of what they read. • Some students selected more difficult material in order to challenge their linguistic ability
Additional goals • This project would provide our students with the opportunity to • explore the French and Francophone cultures on their own time but continuously throughout the semester • visit our library, grab one of the French newspapers or magazines that we had suggested, find a comfortable seat, and start leafing the publication in search of an article that caught their attention • generate curiosity in class and raise interesting questions regarding aspects of the French culture not necessarily incorporated in the curriculum • create a non-intimidating venue where students would feel encouraged to express their views freely but would also pay attention to accuracy
our study: Participants • Third semester learners of French • They had already learned and applied the past tense forms that frequently appear in these types of texts • They have already been exposed to some L2 reading strategies • The cultural content in the course could be found rather easily in articles • 13 students participated in the quantitative portion (pretest-posttest) • 24 students participated in the qualitative portion (reading log) • Those in the quantitative study and 11 others
Our study: design • Publications available: France-Amèrique, Le Devoir, Le NouvelObservateur, L’Express, and Le Monde • The library provided online access to all of these publications except Le Devoir. • Like Arnold (2009), we permitted our students to use a dictionary. • Students read an article of their choosing for 15 minutes during class • They could spend an additional 30 minutes reading at home if they did not finish • 5 articles over the semester (once a chapter)
Quantitative assessment • We selected a text from L’Express for both the pretest and the posttest. • 933 words (read for comprehension not speed) • Topic: a trip several scientists took to learn more about baobabs • Students read the article for 15 minutes and answered 5 comprehension questions about the article and wrote a summary in French. • They marked the last word they read when they were told to stop. • The summaries were compared for an understanding of what happened and why as well as depth of expression.
Quantitative results • Participants were more accurate on their responses to posttest comprehension questions than they were on their pretest responses • p < .01, d = 1.12 • Participants also significantly increased the number of words they read when reading for comprehension • p < .01, d = .45 • the posttest summaries included • a chronological order • more transitions • more detail, they understood the gist
Qualitative assessment • Students turned in reading logs after each reading • We evaluated the reading log based on content rather than grammar. • Students had an opportunity to • summarize short articles in French and express their candid responses to what they had read • produce meaningful observations within a stress-free writing environment • practice the subjunctive tense with verbs and expressions that indicate will, doubt, preference, etc…
Qualitative results: general observations • 11 students consistently produced brief summaries of no more than 4 sentences and brief reactions not exceeding the 5 sentences required • 13 students produced more elaborate summaries and clearly more engaged reaction paragraphs of between 5 and 8 sentences • Many students preferred perusing the online versions of the newspapers and magazines we had suggested
Qualitative results: common threads • Most participants tended to select articles in popular music, film, sports • Participants demonstrated varying degrees of understanding of the details in their articles but grasped the core ideas • All participants offered some reactions to and observations about their articles • Most participants compared the ideas presented in the articles with events and trends in the US • All participants attempted to use the subjunctive tense with verbs and expressions of opinions
Qualitative results: common threads • Participants took advantage of the stress-free writing environment and focused more on articulating their thoughts than producing accurate grammar
RESULTS BY TYPES OF LOG ENTRIES Entries 5 sentences or less Entries longer than 5 sentences • Students who produced brief summaries and reactions tended to compose short sentences • These students seldom used transition words to connect their thoughts • They were able to identify the main ideas but could not address the details of their articles • Their reactions to the reading were not engaged or personal • Students who produced longer summaries and reactions had annotated their articles and left evidence of sustained vocabulary search 2. These students captured the core ideas of their article and were able to discuss some of the details • The responses showed greater lexical and grammar accuracy 4. The students used some transition words to make their paragraphs more coherent
RECURRENT PATTERNS IN THE REACTION PARAGRAPHS Transitions: Donc= thus par exemple= for example Aussi= Also en fait= in fact À mon avis= in my opinion Toutefois= however Ensuite= then Bien que= although Verbs that address the author’s intentions: Montrer= to show Apporter= to bring Donner l’impression de/que= to give the impression that Exposer= to bring to light Expressions used with the Subjunctive tense: Se demander que= to wonder Penserque =to think that Aimer que= to like that Il est certain que= it is certain that
Conclusions • Can students benefit from reading texts that are not level-appropriate? Yes! • We found our modified extensive reading program to be a success • Students improved in accuracy and reading rate from pretest to posttest • Participants were able to summarize and compare ideas they gleaned from the article in the reading log • Students of differing abilities and interests were able to approach and react to the articles in unique ways
Conclusions • It is important to note that we did not have a control group • We wanted to evaluate whether students would indeed be able to understand and benefit from material that was not level-appropriate • We plan to do a replication study with a control group in the future • It is our belief that extensive reading provides an excellent opportunity for students to interact with the language in a meaningful way outside the classroom. • While an extensive reading program does take work to establish, it may not take a lot of money
POSSIBLE EXPANSION ACTIVITIES 1. Schedule whole-classroom roundtable discussions of the articles; 2. Create content-specific mini-lessons to expand field-specific vocabulary ;