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How Should Heritage Languages Be Taught?: The Effects of a Free Voluntary Reading Program

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ABSTRACT The United States has experienced a sharp rise in recent years in the number of heritage language (HL) bilinguals, students who speak a language other than English at home. Due to a lack of advanced language development in other settings, many of these students enroll in foreign language courses in their respective home languages. This paper reports on a program designed to promote heritage language and literacy development in one university-level HL course, Spanish for Native Speakers (SNS). The ten-week program involved two classes of mostly English-dominant SNS students participating in an experimental course that included a combination of the following elements: free voluntary reading (FVR) outside the classroom, in-class literature circles (small group book discussions), a survey of popular literature in Spanish, and individual inquiry learning projects. Three measures of the course were used to evaluate its success in terms of vocabulary acquisition, attitudes toward Spanish literacy development, and reading habits. The experimental group made significant gains in word knowledge, read more than a comparison group of SNS students, and exhibited positive attitudes toward Spanish literacy at the end of the ten-week course. The evidence in favor of FVR, theoretical justifications for the approach in SNS courses, and implications for redesigning heritage language curricula at the secondary and university levels are discussed.
... There is strong evidence that reading, particularly self-selected or 'free voluntary' reading (FVR) is a major contributor to both first and second/foreign language development and literacy (Krashen, 1993;Elley, 1991;Elley & Manghubai, 1983). FVR has also been found to be more motivating than traditional form-focused instruction, therefore resulting in more positive attitudes toward reading and greater frequency of out-of-school reading (Greaney & Clarke, 1973;Cho & Krashen, 1994, in press 1995Constantino, 1994Constantino, , 1995McQuillan, 1994McQuillan, , 1995Tse & McQuillan, in press). However, despite these advantages, FVR is seldom a significant part of beginning and intermediate second/foreign language curricula (Huber, 1993), and many second/foreign language students report doing little reading for pleasure in the language they study (McQuillan, 1995;Dupuy, in preparation). ...
... FVR has also been found to be more motivating than traditional form-focused instruction, therefore resulting in more positive attitudes toward reading and greater frequency of out-of-school reading (Greaney & Clarke, 1973;Cho & Krashen, 1994, in press 1995Constantino, 1994Constantino, , 1995McQuillan, 1994McQuillan, , 1995Tse & McQuillan, in press). However, despite these advantages, FVR is seldom a significant part of beginning and intermediate second/foreign language curricula (Huber, 1993), and many second/foreign language students report doing little reading for pleasure in the language they study (McQuillan, 1995;Dupuy, in preparation). ...
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We describe a novel way of creating interesting reading material for the foreign language classroom, handcrafted books.
... Nevertheless, many HL curricular approaches have not adequately reflected the unique needs of the HL learners (Kondo-Brown, 2010). Instead, HL instruction has focused on explicit grammar (Schwarzer & Petr ´on, 2005), spelling instruction (Pyun & Lee-Smith, 2011), and vocabulary and translation practices with prescribed reading materials (McQuillan, 1996). For instance, Schwarzer and Petr ´on (2005) studied three Spanish HL learners' disappointing experiences with a college grammar-focused Spanish HL course. ...
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Drawing on multiliteracies, the author examines how a multiliteracies curriculum in a 3rd-year Korean heritage language (HL) class at a southeastern U.S. university contributed to the development of a student's HL literacy skills. Print-based and multimodal responses (i.e., a digital animation movie) to the readings of students' choices and language logs were aligned with the four components of a multiliteracies pedagogy (i.e., situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformative practice). The qualitative data analysis suggests that a multiliteracies curriculum helped an HL learner develop motivation to read in Korean, adopt an agentive take on Korean language learning, and form an emerging literate identity as a legitimate reader and writer in the HL. The author discusses important implications for reading/literacy educators in various contexts.
... Most perceived the practice of ER in their reading classes to be favorable, effective in helping them to enhance their English skills, important for their learning, and helpful in raising their confidence in learning English. The results are in accordance with findings in previous research on learner attitude toward ER (Alshamrani, 2003;Crawford Camiciottoli, 2001;Leung, 2002;McQuillan, 1994;NG & Sullivan, 2001;Yang, 2001). In addition, the instructor, who approached ER teaching differently, did not appear to be a factor of student participants' attitude toward ER. ...
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The effect of reading on general communicative competence remains a focus of second language acquisition research. Extensive reading, in particular, provides rich input and helps learners acquire languages. Research has provided findings that support the value of extensive reading (ER); however, there is scant evidence to date showing the relationship of extensive reading to overall competence and, particularly, writing competence. The present study investigated the relationship of ER to overall English language competence as well as teachers’ and students’ views about its implementation. The participants were 190 Taiwanese university freshmen and their three English instructors. The data includes scores on pre- and post-tests measuring students’ listening, reading, and writing as well as questionnaire responses and interview accounts. The findings of the study indicate that the effectiveness of ER for the student participants is partially supported and, hence, have implications for English teaching and learning in EFL contexts.
... Kondo-Brown (2010a) has pointed out that little research has investigated how best to teach academic and advanced vocabulary for use beyond the immediate personal domain to heritage learners. Given that authentic reading texts are recommended for literacy development of heritage learners, (Johnstone, 1997;McQuillan, 1996), the teaching of vocabulary is an area that needs pedagogic attention in heritage curriculum and pedagogy. ...
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While heritage language learners are becoming visible in the research literature as a distinct group of language learners with specific needs, existing curriculum structures in secondary schools often focus on programs either for foreign language learners or for first language learners. The study reported here examines the experiences of heritage learners of Japanese who have been inappropriately placed in courses designed for native speakers and as a result, in some cases, have withdrawn from taking any formal program of Japanese language study. Focusing on the situation of Australian senior secondary Japanese students, this article reports the findings of questionnaire and interview data, featuring the voices of both teachers and heritage learners of Japanese. The data identify the issues that delineate heritage language learners from native speakers and highlight, through the experiences of misplaced learners, the need for appropriate placement, pedagogy and curriculum.
... Moreover, vocabulary acquisition through extensive reading has been considered as occurring incidentally because learners are focused on the task of reading instead of learning vocabulary (Hulstijn, 2001). Due to the ease of access to extensive reading materials as a source of input for learners, incidental vocabulary acquisition has become an issue of interest in input-oriented language acquisition theories (Jenkins, Stein, & Wysocki, 1984;McQuillan, 1996;Meara, 1997;Nagy, Anderson, & Herman, 1987;Nagy, Herman, & Anderson, 1985;Pigada & Schmitt, 2006; inter alia). ...
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... 303). Successful extensive reading programs involve a good deal of teacher guidance, including suggestions on books selection and how to choose books, all of which can be very useful in matching readers to texts (e.g., Krashen & Mason, 2015;McQuillan, 1996McQuillan, , 1998McQuillan, Beckett, Gutierrez, Rippon, Snyder, Wager, & Zajec, 2001;Shin & Krashen, 2008). However, even with such measures, only the individual reader knows his level of interest, background knowledge, and word knowledge relative to a particular text sufficiently to make the decision whether to read a book or not, as Lee (2007) documented. ...
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I provided data (McQuillan, 2016) to show that there is an adequate amount of reading material that can be read at or above 98% vocabulary coverage to provide sufficient input to acquire most of the word families from the 2,000- to the 9,000-word-family levels. Cobb does not dispute these findings, nor present any evidence to counter them. On the substantive issues addressed in my paper, then, we are apparently in agreement. Cobb’s commentary instead focuses on three other points: (a) acquiring vocabulary via free reading takes too long; (b) it will be too difficult for readers to select the right free reading texts to make adequate progress; and (c) some form of ‘teaching,’ presumably explicit vocabulary instruction, would be more effective and efficient in promoting vocabulary growth than free reading. I’ll address each of these critiques in turn.
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School children appear to increase their vocabularies by thousands of words per year. Many have hypothesized that a large proportion of this growth occurs through incidental learning from written context. However, experimental research has until now failed to provide unequivocal support of this hypothesis. The present study attempted to determine whether students do acquire measurable knowledge about unfamiliar words while reading natural text. Fifty-seven eighth-grade students of average and above average reading ability read either an expository or a narrative text about 1,000 words in length. After reading, subjects completed two vocabulary assessment tasks on 15 target words from each passage (thus serving as controls for the passage not read), an individual interview and a multiple-choice test, both designed to tap partial knowledge of word meanings. Results of within-subject, hierarchical regression analyses showed small but statistically reliable gains in word knowledge from context. Tentative extrapolations from the results and current estimates of the volume of children's reading lead us to believe that incidental learning from context accounts for a substantial proportion of the vocabulary growth that occurs during the school years. /// [French] Les écoliers semblent augmenter leur vocabulaire de milliers de mots par an. Nombreux sont ceux qui ont pour hypothèse qu'une large proportion de cette croissance intervient grâce à une acquisition accidentelle à partir d'un contexte écrit. Cependant, la recherche expérimentale n'a pas pu jusqu'à présent fournir un soutient univoque à cette hypothèse. L'étude présente essaie de déterminer si les élèves acquièrent en fait des connaissances mesurables sur les mots qui ne leur sont pas familiers au cours de la lecture de textes naturels. Cinquantesept élèves de quatrième à compétence de lecture moyenne et au-dessus de la moyenne ont lu un texte d'exposition ou de narration d'environ 1000 mots. Après la lecture, les sujets ont complété deux tâches d'évaluation de vocabulaire sur 15 mots cibles à partir de chaque passage (servant ainsi de contrôles pour le passage non lu), un entretien individuel et un test à choix multipes, désignés à aborder la connaissance partielle des significations de mots. Les résultats des analyses de régression hiérarchique de sujet unique ont montré des gains moindres mais statistiquement sûrs en connaissance de mots à partir d'un contexte. Des extrapolations d'essai à partir des résultats et des calculs courants du volume de lecture chez les enfants nous ont menés à croire que la lecture accidentelle à partir d'un contexte compte pour une proportion substantielle de la croissance du vocabulaire qui a lieu au cours des années scolaires. /// [Spanish] Al parecer, alumnos incrementan su vocabulario con miles de palabras cada año. Muchos han avanzado la hipótesis que una gran proporción de este incremento ocurre por medio de aprendizaje incidental del contexto escrito. No obstante, investigación experimental no ha provisto evidencia irrefutable para esta hipótesis. Este estudio trató de determinar si los alumnos adquieren conocimiento medible de palabras desconocidas durante la lectura de textos normales. Cincuenta y siete alumnos de octavo grado, de habilidad normal y superior en lectura, leyeron un texto descriptivo o narrativo, de approximadamente 1000 palabras. Después de la lectura, los alumnos completaron 2 actividades de evaluación de vocabulario sobre 15 palabras específicas de cada pasaje (sirviendo así como control de los pasajes no leídos), una entrevista individual y un test de elección múltiple, ambos diseñados para descubrir conocimiento parcial de significado de palabras. Los resultados por individuo, utilizando análisis de jerarquía de regresión, mostraron pequeño pero estadísticamente fiable progreso en el conocimiento de palabras por medio de contexto. Extrapolaciones tentativas de los resultados y cálculos presentes del volumen de lectura de alumnos, nos llevan a deducir que aprendizaje incidental del contexto da cuenta de una proporción considerable del incremento de vocabulario que ocurre durante los años escolares.
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Reading comprehension of students in two age groups, 14 and 18, is compared for three countries. Based on IEA data reanalyzed by Purves, the following rank order occurs: New Zealand, United States, Iran. The concept of reading volume is proposed as an indicator of the quantity of reading among adults and students to account partially for these differences among countries. A metric is devised for reading volume, based on the number of copies (of newspapers, magazines, and books) read per person per month. Data derived from six national and international surveys, comparable in method, purpose, and sampling of the populations, are used to calculate reading volumes, with the result that New Zealand was higher than the United States which was higher than Iran. In addition, reading volumes of subgroups of New Zealanders divided by age, sex, occupation, TV viewing, and recreational interest are presented. These findings are placed in an educational framework in which desired levels of reading achievement for students depend on reading demands of society which are (minimally) estimated by reading volume. The symbiosis of achievement and volume is discussed in the contexts of educational planning and assessment./// [French] On a comparé dans trois pays la compréhension de lecture d'éléves de deux groupes d'âge: 14 et 18 ans. Basé sur les données du IEA réanalysées par Purves, l'ordre suivant a lieu: Nouvelle Zélande, Etats-Unis et Iran. On a proposé le concept de volume de lecture comme un indicateur de qualité de lecture parmi les adultes et les éléves afin d'expliquer en partie ces différences parmi les pays. On a dispoé un métrage pour le volume de lecture, basé sur le nombre de copies (de journaux, magasines et livres) lues par personne chaque mois. On a utilisé des données provenant de six enquêtes nationales et internationales, comparables en méthode, but et échantillon de populations, afin de calculer les volumes de lecture. Les résultats obtenus sont les suivants: La Nouvelle Zélande a un volume plus grand que les Etats-Unis, le volume de cuex-ci dépasse à son tour celui de l'Iran. De plus, on a présenté les volumes de lecture des sousgroupes de Nouveaux Zélandais divisés en âge, sexe, occupation, choix de programmes télévisés, et loisirs. Ces découvertes ont été placées dans un cadre éducatif selon lequel les niveaux désirés d'accomplissement de lecture des éléves dépendent des demandes sociales de lecture qui sont (de manière minime) estimées par volume de lecture. La symbiose d'accomplissement et de volume est discutée dans les contextes de planification et évaluation d'enseignement./// [Spanish] Se comparan comprensión de lectura de dos niveles de edad, 14 y 18 años, en 3 países. Basado en los datos de la IEA (International Education Association), analizados de nuevo por Purves, el siguiente orden de rangos resultó: Nueva Zelanda, Estados Unidos, Irán. Se propone el concepto de volumen de lectura como un indicador de la cantidad de lectura de adultos y estudiantes, para justificar parcialmente las diferencias entre países. Se desarrolla un sistema de medición para el volumen de lectura, basado en el número de periódicos, revistas y libros leídos por mes y por persona. Datos derivados de 6 encuestas nacionales e internacionales - comparables en metodología, objetivos, y muestreo de población-se utilizan para calcular volumen de lectura, con el resultado de que el de Nueva Zelanda era mayor que el de los Estados Unidos, que al mismo tiempo era mayor que el de Irán. Además, se describen los volúmenes de lectura de subgrupos neozelandeses divididos por edad, sexo, ocupación, hábito de mirar la televisión, y actividades durante las horas de ocio. Estos resultados se insertan en una estructura pedagógica en la que niveles de destreza de lectura de alumnos, sujetos a la demanda de la sociedad, se calculan (mínimamente) por medio de volumen de lectura. Se discute la simbiosis de destreza y volumen en el contexto de planificación pedagógica y medición.