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Can Learners Make the Jump from the Highest Graded Readers to Ungraded Novels?: Four Case Studies Diane Schmitt Jez Uden Nottingham Trent University Norbert.

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Presentation on theme: "Can Learners Make the Jump from the Highest Graded Readers to Ungraded Novels?: Four Case Studies Diane Schmitt Jez Uden Nottingham Trent University Norbert."— Presentation transcript:

1 Can Learners Make the Jump from the Highest Graded Readers to Ungraded Novels?: Four Case Studies Diane Schmitt Jez Uden Nottingham Trent University Norbert Schmitt University of Nottingham

2 Lexical Coverage and Reading Comprehension For most learners to gain adequate comprehension when reading fiction for pleasure 98% coverage is generally agreed to be the coverage required (Nation, 2009, Laufer & Ravenhorst- Kalovski, 2010, Schmitt, Jiang, & Grabe, 2011).

3 Lexical Coverage and Reading Comprehension For extensive reading to be effective, it must be comprehensible and meaningful. Unless learners are at an advanced stage of their language development, the vocabulary load of unsimplified reading material (e.g. newspapers, novels) will probably be too high for the input to be comprehensible (Schmitt, 2008).

4 Lexical Coverage and Reading Comprehension In order to meet the conditions needed for learning from extensive reading at a variety of levels of proficiency, it is essential to make use of simplified texts (Nation, 2009:49).

5 Graded Readers

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7 A Bridge to Ungraded Reading? Philip Prowse, Series Editor of the Cambridge Readers (CER), states that the CER series was intended as a bridge to ungraded reading (personal communication).

8 Key Question Does the use of graded readers really promote learning by providing for a smooth and orderly progression to full English, as it is supposed to? (Honeyfield, 1977:431)

9 Differing Views Nation has repeatedly claimed that graded reader schemes need to go much higher (Hirsh & Nation, 1992, Nation & Wang, 1999, Hu & Nation, 2000, Iatefl, 2011). 8,000 – 9,000 words are needed to obtain 98% coverage of the running words in an unsimplified text (Nation, 2009:99-10).

10 Differing Views From my experience learners at this [highest graded reader] level usually want to wean themselves off [graded readers] and try native texts even if they are actually hard and even if the coverage rate isn't perfect for fluent reading. (Waring, 2008)

11 The Study 1. What is the gap between the highest level of graded readers and ungraded fiction in terms of vocabulary load? 2. Do learners have the requisite vocabulary knowledge to meet this gap? 3. What happens to learners comprehension as they make the jump from the highest level of graded reader to ungraded fiction? 4. What happens to learners reading speed as they make the jump from the highest level of graded reader to ungraded fiction? 5. What happens to learners perceptions of reading pleasure and ease as they make the jump from the highest level of graded reader to ungraded fiction?

12 Participants a.Measured before starting Level 6 readers b.Measured after reading Level 6 readers and before ungraded novels

13 Research Design 10 weeks - Preliminary Reading participants read: 10 Level 5 Cambridge Readers 18 weeks - Main Study participants read: 10 Level 6 Cambridge Readers (last 2 focus of study) 2 ungraded novels participants were tested on: Known words in each of the 4 books Reading Comprehension Reading Speed Perception of Reading Ease/Pleasure

14 Research Design

15 Data Collection Instruments Yes/No Vocabulary Tests Book Title Size of Test (No of Words) Murder Maker134 This Time its Personal138 Way of the Peaceful Warrior573 The Innocent633 1 in 4 sampling rate

16 Data Collection Instruments Multiple choice reading comprehension One test for each book 15 M/C items per test

17 Data Collection Instruments

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19 Reading Speed Measurements Assessed on reading speed for all four books Read at a comfortable pace and timed for fifteen minutes (3 x 5 minutes) at the beginning of each book. At the end of each five minute set the participants were asked to underline the last word they reached. The reading speed for each set was measured, recorded in words per minute and combined to produce an overall average.

20 Data Collection Instruments Perception of Reading Ease/Pleasure Questionnaire

21 Data Collection Timeline

22 Results

23 What is the gap between the highest level of graded readers and ungraded fiction in terms of vocabulary load?

24 Graded Reader Jumps

25 What is the gap between the highest level of graded readers and ungraded fiction in terms of vocabulary load?

26 Do learners have the requisite knowledge to meet this gap?

27 What happens to learners comprehension as they make the jump from the high level of graded reader to ungraded fiction?

28 What happens to learners reading speed as they make the jump?

29 What happens to learners perceptions of reading pleasure and ease as they make the jump?

30 Further Points Overall, 3 learners were able to make the jump to unsimplified novels successfully The jump was not much different than a progression between Graded Reader levels Marta quit Peaceful Warrior because of the content, not linguistic difficulty

31 Further Points One learner (Deimante) found the jump difficult, and preferred to stay with the graded readers The learners reading pleasure seemed to have more to do with the books themselves than whether graded/unsimplfied

32 Further Points In real terms, the small decrease in reading speed may not make a much of a difference Rose reading The Innocent 204 WPM = 7 hours (graded reader speed) 163 WPM = 8 hours 48 minutes (actual speed) Any real difference for pleasure reading?

33 Further Points These results are for highly motivated learners Would the results be the same for learners with less motivation?

34 Q & A Slides and handout available at:

35 What is the gap between the highest level of graded readers and ungraded fiction in terms of vocabulary load?

36 What happens to learners comprehension as they make the jump from the high level of graded reader to ungraded fiction?

37 What happens to learners reading speed as they make the jump?


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