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Challenges in Teaching Beginning Reading: Cross-Cultural Comparisons Dr. Linda B. Akanbi Kennesaw State University World Congress.

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Presentation on theme: "Challenges in Teaching Beginning Reading: Cross-Cultural Comparisons Dr. Linda B. Akanbi Kennesaw State University World Congress."— Presentation transcript:

1 Challenges in Teaching Beginning Reading: Cross-Cultural Comparisons Dr. Linda B. Akanbi Kennesaw State University World Congress on Reading San Jose, Costa Rica July 31, 2008

2 Changing the Lens Unfortunately, we become so immersed in our own environments that we tend to forget that large segments of the world read using scripts that are very different from our own (Samuels, 1994, p. 373).

3 Purpose To highlight some challenges for teaching literacy in different linguistic and sociocultural environments while focusing on a comparison of different languages and writing systems.

4 Goals To share research findings on literacy education in other countries. To increase understanding of literacy acquisition in other languages and cultures.

5 Previous Research Goswami (1999) Akanbi (2005)

6 Languages and Writing Systems Examined Arabic Hebrew German Greek Chinese (Mandarin) Yoruba Kiswahili

7 The Arabic Language Background Information Classical Arabic Modern Standard Arabic

8 Arabic

9 Features of Arabic Script 28 letters (all consonants). Letters written from right to left (except numerals). Letters change form depending on position in a word. No distinct upper and lower case letter forms.

10 Features of Arabic Script (contd) Both printed and written Arabic are cursive. One letter equals one phoneme. Presence of vowels indicated differently. Complex morphemes. Arabic syntax vs. English (Palmer, El-Ashry, Lelcere, and Chang, 2007).

11 Learning to Read in Arabic Acquiring spoken language (NSA). Decoding the print of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Understanding the print when the diacritical marks are eliminated.

12 The Hebrew Language Brief History Modern Hebrew Israeli Hebrew Official language of Israel

13 Hebrew Orthography Consonantal system. Abundance of homographic words. Two systems of vowelling. Double purpose letters. Pointed Hebrew (Eakle and Garber, 2004; Share and Levin, 1999).

14 Learning to Read in Hebrew Children learn to read in pointed Hebrew. Role of phonological awareness. Role of morphology Process of word formation (Ben- Dror, Bentin, and Frost, 1995). Challenges

15 Learning to Write in Hebrew Writing consonants vs. vowels. Directionality. Referential writing strategy. Phonological writing strategy (Share and Levin, 1999).

16 Emergent Writing Samples from Three Different Languages English Hebrew Arabic

17 The German Language: Brief History Low and High German. Development of Standard German. Gutenbergs invention of the printing press (early 15 th century). Martin Luthers translation of the Bible ( ). Creation of a binding orthography by the kingdom of Bavaria.

18 Some Features of German Orthography Consistent phoneme-grapheme relationships. Use of umlaut signs. Vowel complexity related to length. Spelling impacted more than reading (Wimmer, Landerl and Frith, 1999).

19 Beginning Reading Instruction in German No reading instruction in kindergarten. Systematic phonics instruction. Direct modeling and training on how to recognize words via grapheme- phoneme translation and blending.

20 Research Wimmer and Goswami (1994) Frith, Wimmer and Landerl (1998)

21 The Greek Writing System Language Family. Transparent orthography. No vowel distinctions. Half the syllable types found in English. Stress position influenced by morphological and lexical factors (Harris and Guannouli, 1999).

22 Research Performance on letter-name tasks. Letter-names vs. letter-sounds. Greek children vs. English-speaking children on literacy development. Association between phoneme awareness and reading ability for Greek children (Tafa and Manolitis, 2008).

23 Greek Spelling Orthographic irregularity. Alternative spellings. Rote learning of certain words.

24 Beginning Reading Instruction in Greek First formal reading instruction in grade 1 at age six. Greek children encounter two different alphabets. Reading Greek vs. Roman script.

25 Chinese Languages Mandarin (885 million first language speakers). Cantonese (70 million speakers). Many different Chinese dialects.

26 Chinese Writing System Non-alphabetic writing system Use of visual symbols called characters. Phonetic component = sound Radical component = meaning Characters represent morphemes.

27 Differences between Chinese and English In Chinese, each morpheme is represented by a single syllable. In English, a morpheme may consist of more than one syllable. Far fewer syllables in Chinese than in English. Presence of tones in Chinese.

28 Differences between Chinese and English (contd) No consonant blends before or after vowels. Open syllable structure (c-v) (Hanley, Tzeng and Huang, 1999)..

29 Cognitive Demands of Learning to Read Chinese Visual discrimination and memory tasks associated with learning characters. Writing Chinese characters.

30 Methods of Teaching Reading in China Hong Kong Mainland China Taiwan

31 Hong Kong Children taught to read as young as three years old. Expected to be able to read 460 characters by end of first grade (age 7). Rote learning. Attention not drawn to phonetic component of characters.

32 Mainland China Children introduced to the reading of Mandarin through an alphabetic system called pinyin. Children are taught to read pinyin the first 8 weeks of school and then the Chinese characters.

33 Taiwan Children introduced to Mandarin through an alphabetic script called Zhu-Yin-Fu-Hao. Children learn the alphabetic script the first 10 weeks of school, and then Mandarin, a non-alphabetic script (Hanley, Tzeng and Huang, 1999; Lan, 1999).

34 Comparison of Zhuyin and Pinyin 37 characters in Zhuyin, all of which are different from the Chinese characters. Contains symbols for tone. In Pinyin, the written symbols are letters of the Roman alphabet. Both support writing development.

35 Phonological Awareness and Learning to Read Chinese Are children with superior phonological awareness better readers of Chinese? Does knowledge of an alphabetic system increase the PA of Chinese children? How do the PA skills of Chinese children compare with those of English-speaking children?

36 Teaching Reading in Bilingual and Multilingual Contexts Influence of dominant language. Differences that influence literacy instruction. Degree of similarity between first and second languages.

37 Ways Bilingualism May Impact Literacy Acquisition Having to learn to read in a weak language. Learning to read in a different script. Having early story experiences that are linguistically and culturally different from home language (Bialystock, 2002; Fillmore and Snow, 2000).

38 A Study of Bilingual Children in Singapore English-Mandarin – speaking children. English-Behasa Melayu –speaking children (Liow, 1999).

39 Results Supported a dual foundation model: alphabetic (phonological) and logographic processors. Mandarin-English – speaking children seemed to rely more on logographic. Malay-English seemed to rely more on phonological (Liow, 1999).

40 African Context for Literacy Learning Left out of the mainstream for research. Complex continent in terms of language environments and functions. Many challenges for teaching reading.

41 Challenges Teaching in the Mother Tongue (Home Language) No script for some languages. Lack of teacher training in various languages. Lack of teaching materials and language support materials. Cost. Limitations (EFA Global Monitoring Report, 2007).

42 Yoruba Brief background The Yoruba alphabet Yoruba language characteristics Research

43 Some Yoruba Language Characteristics No gender differentiation in pronouns. Importance of tones. Articles come after the subject. Adjectives may come either before or after the noun (Fakinlede, 2005).

44 Research on Use of Yoruba in Reading Instruction Six-Year Primary Project (Afolayan, 1999). Action Research (Onukaogu and Adelabu, 2004).

45 Kiswahili Brief background. Official language of Kenya and Tanzania. Swahili vs. English

46 Teaching Reading in Kenyan Primary Schools: Research Findings Language of Instruction (LOI) Policy follows general pattern. Problems with implementation of policy. Teachers use both analytical and synthetic approaches. Lack of material resources (Commeyras and Inyega, 2007).

47 Conclusion From this limited review, it appears that the skills children need in order to learn to read successfully vary, to some degree, based on the type of writing system (alphabetic vs.non- alphabetic), the degree of regularity in the orthography, special features of the language including its

48 Conclusion (contd) morphology, syntax and print features, and childrens facility in their mother tongue. Other factors that appear to impact childrens literacy acquisition include sociocultural and socioeconomic factors, language of instruction, and instructional factors including teacher preparation.

49 Conclusion (contd) It is apparent that in some countries, children face unique and sometimes complex challenges in learning to read.

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