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Title: Can children and parents read happily ever after? : an investigation of extensive reading in Taiwan
Authors: Chiang, I-Chin Nonie
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study aims to explore the effect of extra-curricular English input for primary school learners in Taiwan, where English is spoken as a foreign language. Like many other countries, e. g. Japan, Korea and Mainland China, Taiwan started its primary English programme in the past ten years to improve English proficiency through an early start, yet there are reports of low achievement, slow progress and low parental satisfaction. A base-line and a pilot study showed that English learning in Taiwan is generally confined to the classroom and learners rarely receive input outside of school, apart from attending private language schools, which focus on cramming for exams. The main study considered extra-curricular input to increase the amount of exposure to English, which would be natural, enjoyable and accessible to children. This pointed to the use of English storybooks. The pilot study showed that young beginners need scaffolding in their learning, so the project involved parents to support reading with their children at home. Participants were sixty-three Taiwanese primary school pupils and their parents from three classes in one state school, with three subgroups: a family reading group, an independent reading group and a control group. The study period was one academic semester. Apart from the control group, pupils in the family reading group and the independent reading group were directed to read with or without their parents at home. The method of investigation used for this study was qualitative in the form of questionnaires, proficiency tests, reading records, interviews and audio recordings of family reading from that subgroup, and quantitative in the form of tasks designed to measure improvement in the learners' proficiency in terms of vocabulary and morpho-syntax. The results showed that learners who read more slightly outperformed the non-readers in terms of morpho-syntax. The audio recordings showing interaction of the parents and children during reading demonstrated that further help is necessary for such an idea to work in practice. This study also reveals the difficulty of arranging a time for home reading between the parents and children and, in addition, points to the insufficient exposure to English for these Taiwanese young learners in their daily lives, which will continue to contribute to their slow progress, despite their age advantage.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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