By Sari Pietikäinen, FinlandAlexandra Jaffe, Long BeachHelen Kelly-Holmes, and Nikolas Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users."
AUTHOR: William Grabe & Fredricka L. Stoller TITLE: Teaching and Researching: Reading (Second Edition) SERIES TITLE: Applied Linguistics in Action PUBLISHER: Pearson Linguistics YEAR: 2011
Clay H. Williams, English for Academic Purposes Department, Akita International University (Japan)
Grabe and Stoller's new edition of ''Teaching and Researching Reading'' is designed as a basic introduction to current theoretical models of reading processing and teaching methodology for practicing first language (L1) and second language (L2) reading instructors. The book could also serve as a useful text for pre-service teacher training and other classes that have a teaching practicum element. It approaches its topic matter from an introductory standpoint, and glosses technical and professional vocabulary. The book starts out with a broad overview of the theoretical perspectives that undergird current understanding and research in reading processes and pedagogy. L1 and L2 reading phenomena and theories are clearly distinguished and discussed separately. The text then shifts towards a review of select recent research articles, which the authors present as a representative sample of the evolving field of reading research. Finally, the authors present a series of model action research projects which readers are encouraged to use as a template for developing their own classroom-based action research projects to improve their own literacy pedagogical methodology and their students' literacy acquisition and mastery.
The first section of the book is an introduction to reading models and L2 reading in particular. Chapter 1, ''The nature of reading abilities,'' points out the difficulty of most attempts at putting a definition to the act of reading, as it is a task that is comprised of numerous subtasks and choices, which can make different reading experiences almost wholly different from each other. First, different purposes for reading (e.g. information search, skimming, learning, general comprehension, etc.) are presented along with the skills and strategies that fluent readers apply (consciously or not) to individual reading tasks. Next, the authors explain the various processes which define the act of ''fluent reading,'' before going on to describe current theories on the actual process of text to thought/concept conversion. This section is split into two parts: ''lower level processes,'' which are usually comprised of the skills-oriented automatic linguistic processes; and ''higher --level processes,'' which are defined as ''comprehension strategies that make much more use of the reader's background knowledge and inferencing abilities'' (p. 13) such as contextualization and discourse organization. The text then segues to synthesizing existing reading models into the discussion. Bottom-up, top-down, and interactive models are all discussed and their weak points are critiqued. Finally, the authors give a brief run-down of current models: the Interactive Compensatory Model (Stanovich, 2000), the Word Recognition Model (Siedenberg & McClelland, 1989), the Simple View of Reading Model (Hoover & Gough, 1990), the Dual-Coding Model (Sadoski, 2009; Sadoski & Paivio, 2001, 2007), and the Psycholinguistic Guessing Game Model (Goodman, 1986, 1996) are all explained.
Chapter 2, ''Comparing L1 and L2 reading,'' begins with a description of the myriad of unique variables in L2 reader profiles that make L2 reading processes an area of research and inquiry distinct from those of the L1. Issues such as language proficiencies, language exposure, and transfer (whether from L1, background, or general knowledge) all can potentially affect the L2. The authors elucidate the various linguistic and processing differences displayed by L1 and L2 readers. Issues such as the varying levels of vocabulary, grammar, and discourse mastery, superior metalinguistic and metacognitive awareness by L2 readers, differences between the L1 and L2 languages and scripts themselves, and how the two languages interact with each other within the brains of L2 readers are all reviewed. The authors also look at learner profiles of L1 and L2 readers in discussing individual differences, as well as differences in the reading experience itself. Issues such as differing levels of L1 literacy, L2 reading motivations, and the amount and variety of experiences with L2 texts are examined. Finally, the focus turns to social influences on L1 vs. L2 literacy acquisition and development with examples of how socio-cultural background, discourse organization, and educational institutional expectations can produce disparities in L1 vs. L2 literacy development.
Section two explores current research in reading processes and instructional methodology. Chapter 3, ''Key studies in L1 reading,'' introduces the concept of research studies as stories. In the authors' words, ''…research studies are stories and they contain features of story structures. Only the format and the formal reporting features are truly different, reflecting a different target audience and its set of well-defined expectations'' (p. 62). The authors then proceed to ''translate'' a series of research articles by Byrne and Fielding-Barnsley (1989, 1991, 1993, 1995) into a more traditional story narrative, explaining the researchers' findings that early training in sound-to-letter correspondence and phonemic identification yielded increases in literacy skills, which were detectable as far as three years past the original training sessions. After this presentation, with the story format clearly defined, the authors proceed to present 10 more studies focused on L1 reading research of note from past years. The authors review research on the correlation between child vocabulary size and reading ability, the relationship between early vocabulary knowledge and later literacy development, the effect of reading fluency on reading ability, the treatment effect of reading fluency training on overall reading ability, the role morphological awareness plays in reading comprehension, how knowledge of discourse structure impacts reading ability, whether or not question-making as a pre-reading strategy affects reading comprehension, whether specific training in question formulation would positively impact the comprehension of texts, the effect of the Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction-based teaching methodology, and finally, a strategy-based reading curriculum case study.
Chapter 4, ''Key studies in L2 reading,” continues in the same vein of presenting ten different research studies, this time focusing on L2 reading processes, beginning with three articles relating to word-level processing and vocabulary development. The articles focus on L2 word recognition and how this is affected by L1 transfer, the impact of sight word recognition on vocabulary learning, and extensive reading effects on vocabulary development. The next article demonstrates the effects of pre-teaching vocabulary on comprehension of reading text. The next three articles focus on reading strategy use: mental translation into L1 as a reading strategy; instructional effects on strategic reading development; and a meta-analysis of reading strategy instructional impact on reading comprehension in the L2. Next, the authors present two studies concerning the effect of explicit L2 fluency training on text comprehension and the benefits of extensive reading in the L2 on L2 literacy development, respectively. For the final entry in the chapter, they review a study demonstrating the impact of motivation on L2 reading and literacy attainment.
Section three, consisting only of Chapter 5, ''Teaching reading: Sound foundations and effective practices,'' is a welcomed new addition to this edition of the text. It focuses on the extrapolation of instructional methods and applications from the research detailed in the prior chapters. The authors flesh out the abilities that students must develop in order to become skilled readers and list 9 general principles for developing reading instruction curricula before moving into suggestions for activities and exercises to practice specific skills and strategies. Activities such as word and phrase recognition exercises are promoted as means for increasing students' word recognition efficiency. For vocabulary building, the authors discuss concepts such as the importance of providing a vocabulary-rich classroom environment and systematically selecting vocabulary for explicit instruction. The authors cover methods such as elaborative interrogation, and developing text structure awareness for reading-comprehension skills practice. Shifting from skills to strategy practice, the authors introduce activities such as a Directed Reading-Thinking Activity and other activities to compel students to consciously activate background knowledge and to utilize guessing as a pre-reading strategy. Next, the authors discuss activities such as timed readings for developing and honing L2 reading fluency before shifting to extensive reading activities, such as sustained silent reading. While the authors acknowledge that there is no one activity that will motivate all students to read, the authors argue that teacher behavior and lesson design nevertheless can play an important role in student L2 reading motivation. Finally, the chapter concludes with a discussion of content-based instruction, with particular emphasis on Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction and Collaborative Strategic Reading.
Section 4, which includes the next 4 chapters, promotes the use of action research by reading teacher practitioners in order to maximize the effectiveness of reading instruction. Chapter 6, ''The reading teacher as action researcher,'' emphasizes that action research can be carried out at all levels, and that it is, in effect, an extension of teacher-initiated inquiry which allows teachers to ''look critically at their own classrooms to improve their teaching and enhance the quality of learning that takes place there'' (p. 164). A step-by-step process is enumerated and explained for the budding teaching-researcher: 1) establishing a topic and purpose for the research; 2) posing questions; 3) anticipating outcomes; 4) specifying data collection type; 5) determining ethical data collection means; 6) formulating a timeline; 7) systematically collecting data; 8) analyzing data; 9) reflection; 10) generating solutions; 11) experimenting with the solution; and 12) sharing results.
Chapter 7, ''Vocabulary, fluency and motivation: Action research projects,'' offers a variety of action-research project ideas falling under the topics in the title of the chapter. Nine studies are proposed: 1) to determine how to assist students in becoming more efficient in dictionary use; 2) to determine the effectiveness of glosses on text comprehension; 3) to encourage students' autonomous vocabulary learning; 4) to identify student difficulty with rapid word recognition; 5) to use oral paired reading more effectively; 6) to compare the effectiveness of different fluency activities; 7) to analyze which individual topics in supplementary reading motivate students to read more; 8) to assess methods for building students’ self-image as readers; and 9) to discern students' attitudes towards reading. All studies proposed in this chapter and the next two chapters are organized according to the first eight steps of the procedure outlined in Chapter 6.
Chapter 8, ''Strategic reading, discourse organization and main-idea comprehension: Action research projects,'' outlines 9 more studies under the topics listed in the title. The individual studies cover: 1) supporting the development of strategic reading; 2) determining which strategies students are using; 3) modeling strategic reading behaviors through out-loud readings; 4) determining the effectiveness of graphic organizers (to indicate discourse organization); 5) training students to use graphic organizers; 6) training students to recognize signal words; 7) determining the effectiveness of questions for evoking student discussion on texts; 8) comparing the effectiveness of small-group and whole-class discussions for reading comprehension; and 9) determining which grammatical structures merit explicit instruction.
Chapter 9, ''Reading-lesson stages, reading materials and extensive reading: Action reading projects,'' continues the pattern of thematically grouped action-research proposals. The first three studies evaluate the effect of pre-reading, during-reading, and post-reading activities, respectively. The reading materials section offers 4 action project ideas: 1) determining the level of challenge in text activities; 2) documenting students' level of exposure to non-linear texts; 3) determining goals for post-reading exercises in curricular materials; and 4) determining potential sources of difficulty in the materials. The extensive reading section offers up two research ideas: inventorying available reading materials and evaluating the effectiveness of extensive reading programs in terms of correspondence with the ten principles advocated by Day and Bamford (1998).
Section 5, comprised of just Chapter 10, ''Resources for exploring L2 reading,'' is a reference guide of pertinent journal titles, L1 and L2 reading-related books, action research resources for teachers, websites, and professional organizations. This section is followed by a glossary.
This book functions as an excellent introduction to current theory on reading processing with a very welcomed emphasis on pedagogical application. Instead of the typical either-or (theory or practice) dilemma common to texts on reading research, the authors manage to effectively marry the two. The text is extremely targeted in its intended audience, however. While it would function well as a possible pre-service teacher education text, or even in an introductory graduate-level education or L2 teaching program with a heavy emphasis on practice, the low level would preclude it from being taken seriously in a theory-intensive course. Ultimately, the intended audience is practicing teachers who merely wish to expand their understanding of reading instruction, and who perhaps lack the training to extract useful information from research articles directly (or, perhaps, after long days in the classroom, simply do not wish to expend the requisite effort to do so). The formulaic presentation of research articles in the story-telling format is innovative and rather bold on the authors' parts, making the content extremely reader-friendly and approachable to those who lack a research background. I'm sure that many in the intended audience will find the straightforward style a refreshing change to the opaque (and sometimes dry) style of research reporting normally employed in academic tomes and journals.
The book covers a vast amount of ground, in both the theoretical grounding and practical application, so it's understandable that no one topic goes into considerable detail. Also, given the sizeable body of literature on reading processing and the number of processing theories that exist, one can be sure that the authors agonized over what to include and what to leave out. The introduction to reading models covers the major models admirably well. In a subsequent edition, I'd prefer if the authors gave a bit more focus to word-level processing and lexical recall models. Given the foundational role of word recognition in most reading models, this glancing treatment seemed odd, and it would certainly benefit the intended audience to have some grounding in reading models at the word level, as well as at the sentence and text levels.
The articles laid out in the third section were well chosen and provided a thorough cross-section of interesting sub-topics in reading. The collection of research project ideas in the fourth section made for monotonous reading, but the ideas were solid, and for a beginning researcher, the ready-made template would be invaluable. The resource section at the end, while not exhaustive, was thorough and up-to-date.
In all, this book would be highly informative and useful to any practicing or soon-to-be-practicing L2 instructor wanting to augment his/her understanding of reading processes and/or to conduct action research. The easily approachable writing style makes it an excellent primer text for anyone beginning studies in L1 or L2 reading fields.
Byrne, B., & Fieldings-Barnsley, R. (1989). Phonemic awareness and letter knowledge in the child's acquisition of the alphabetic principle. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 313-321.
Byrne, B., & Fieldings-Barnsley, R. (1991). Evaluation of a program to teach phonemic awareness to young children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 451-455.
Byrne, B., & Fieldings-Barnsley, R. (1993). Evaluation of a program to teach phonemic awareness to young children: A 1-year follow-up. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 104-111.
Byrne, B., & Fieldings-Barnsley, R. (1995). Evaluation of a program to teach phonemic awareness to young children: A 2- and 3-year follow-up and a new pre-school trial. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 488-503.
Day, R.R., & Bamford, J. (2002). Top ten principles for teaching extensive reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 14, 136-141.
Goodman, K. (1986). What's whole in whole language. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Goodman, K. (1996). On reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Hoover, W., & Gough, P. (1990). The simple view of reading. Reading and Writing, 2, 127-160.
Sadoski, M. (2009). Dual coding theory: Reading comprehension and beyond. In C. Block & S.R. Parris (Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (pp. 38-49). New York: Guilford Press.
Sadoski, M., & Paivo, A. (2001). Imagery and text. Manwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Sadoski, M., & Paivo, A. (2007). Toward a unified theory of reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11, 337-356.
Siedenberg, M., & McClelland, J. (1989). A distributed, developmental model of word recognition. Psychological Review, 96, 523-568.
Stanovich, K. (2000). Progress in understanding reading: Scientific foundations and new frontiers. New York: Guilford Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Clay Williams is an Assistant Professor in the English for Academic
Purposes Department of Akita International University. His primary areas of
research include cross-script effects on L2 literacy development, lexical
access in non-alphabetic script reading, and adapting L2 teaching
methodologies to East Asian classroom contexts.