Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An easier, more effective way to enhance literacy

An easier, more effective way
Sent to the Times of India, June 26, 2013.
The "Project to enhance reading skills of students in government schools" (June 24) plans to increase reading ability in English and Hindi by requiring teachers to give reading assignments in both languages. There is an easier, more effective, and more pleasant way: Help students develop a voluntary, self-selected reading habit in both languages.
A growing body of research shows consistently that when interesting reading is available, young people will read. It also shows that those who read more develop higher levels of literacy, which means better reading ability, better writing ability, larger vocabulary, better spelling, and better control of complex grammatical structures.  There is also evidence that self-selected voluntary reading, pleasure reading, is more powerful than assigned reading.
The first step in making this happen is to invest in local and school libraries, with knowledgable librarians who can help young people become dedicated readers.
Stephen Krashen

…when interesting reading is available …: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, and Westport, CONN: Libraries Unlimited (second edition). Krashen, S. 2011. Free Voluntary Reading. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Self-selected reading more powerful than assigned reading: Lee, S. Y. 2007. Revelations from Three Consecutive Studies on Extensive Reading. Regional Language Center (RELC) Journal 38 (2): 150-170.

Libraries: Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36.

Project to enhance reading skills of students in government schools
TNN Jun 24, 2013, 06.55AM IST
AJMER: The education department will soon start an experimental 'reading project' in government schools to improve the quality of education. The reading campaign will start from July 1 in all government schools in state. Compulsory one-hour English and Hindi reading sessions will be held every day in Classes I to VIII.
The department has also formulated an evaluation system and decided grades to mark the stage of each student. Grade 'A' will be given to students who can read both English and Hindi well. While 'B' grade for students having problems in reading and 'C' grade for those who can not read in any language.
The onus of transforming 'C' grade students to 'A' grade ones will be on the teachers.
Teachers will give assignments to students to read from English and Hindi books. "Purpose of the project is to hone the students' skills to speak and read languages," said an official.
The experiment was initiated by the Rajasthan Elementary Education Council. The council was worried after getting the Sambalan Abhiyan report highlighting the inability of students up to middle level to read Hindi properly in most government schools. Their reading skills in English were far worse and multiplication and addition were alien to them.
Since no student upto Class VIII can be failed, the quality of education has suffered badly, "Promoting such students to secondary classes would have a negative impact on the board exam results," a government school teacher said.
"An evaluation will be conducted after every two months to assess the progress of the students," said Mahaveer Singh Rathore, assistant coordinator of Sarva Shikha Abhiyan.
"The evaluation will be conducted by the officials of administrative service to maintain transparency in the process. If the students get 'C' grade then their teacher will be punished," added Rathore.
Meanwhile, academicians are apprehensive since most government school teachers themselves have poor pronunciation skills. 

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