INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE WORD READING, VOCABULARY AND LISTENING COMPREHENSION OF ESL READERS: A PSYCHO-LINGUISTIC PERSPECTIVE UTILISING MULTIPLE LANGUAGES
University of the Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Research has shown that reading difficulties lead to poor academic performance and weak self-esteem and, negatively affect learners’ motivation to read. Reviewing the academic and literacy achievements within the South African education context, several concerns have been raised about the poor state of literacy in our country, especially among English language learners (L2 learners). In addition South Africa’s national assessment policy only allows a learner to fail once in a phase; consequently, many South African learners are pushed through the education system without the basic literacy skills to cope in higher grades. Emanating from the above, it is evident that innovative instructional methods are needed to support the literacy and reading development of South African learners. Moreover, researchers have argued that fundamental to L2 reading success, is learners’ ability to recognise words (i.e. effective and fluent word reading), whilst they have also stressed the importance of vocabulary knowledge and linguistic comprehension. Embedded in a whole-language approach for reading development this experimental research utilised a pre-test/post-test research design to investigate the possible value of implementing alternative strategies and multiple languages to enhance the word reading, vocabulary knowledge and linguistic comprehension of Grade 3 ESL readers (n = 48). The core focus of this intervention programme inter alia involved strategies to enhance word learning and linguistic comprehension, utilising participants’ L1 (i.e. Sesotho), the L2 to be learned (i.e. English) and additionally they were taught the basic signs and fingerspelling of South African sign language to compliment and strengthen the visual recognition and knowledge of words. Following the experimental intervention of six months learners were re-tested in November 2016; post-test results were very promising and have shown that experimental learners significantly improved in word reading, vocabulary, syntax and linguistic comprehension. From a psycholinguistic perspective on reading much emphasis have been placed on the role of language and linguistic skills and how they interact and influence reading development. Consequently, the findings of this study are very promising and have highlighted that innovative ways and multiple languages can be used to enhance word reading, vocabulary and linguistic comprehension in English, which in turn can contribute to better reading performance in general.
Keywords: Psycholinguistic approach to reading, multiple languages, Sign language, ESL learners, word reading, vocabulary knowledge, listening comprehension.