From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report in Special English.
Teachers and parents normally call attention to the
pictures when they read storybooks to preschool children. But a study published in 2011 suggests that calling
attention to the words and letters on the page may lead to better readers.
The two-year study compared children who were read to this way in class with children who were not. Those whose teachers most often discussed the print showed clearly higher skills in reading, spelling and understanding. These results were found one year and even two years later.
Shayne Piasta, an assistant professor of teaching and learning at Ohio State University, was an author of the study. She says most preschool teachers would find this method manageable and would need only a small change in the way they teach. They already read storybooks in class. The only difference would be increased attention to the printed text.
Ms. Piasta says if you get children to pay attention to letters and words, it makes sense that they will do better at word recognition and spelling. But she says research suggests that very few parents and teachers do this in a systematic way.
The report appears in the journal Child Development.
More than three hundred children age four and five were observed in classrooms in Ohio and Virginia. The children came from poor families and were below average in their language skills. This put them at risk for reading problems later.
For thirty weeks, the children took part in a program called Project STAR, for Sit Together And Read. The project is based at Ohio State. It tests the short-term and long-term results of reading regularly to preschool children in their classrooms.
Laura Justice at Ohio State was an investigator for the study. She heads the Preschool Language and Literacy
Laboratory. She says one of the areas that interests researchers is known as the "locus of learning."
LAURA JUSTICE: "Where is it that a child learns something? Where is that space? We think we have identified it pretty well in terms of fostering young children’s knowledge about print."
Professor Justice says this knowledge can be gained by having focused discussions when reading a book to a child.
LAURA JUSTICE: "We think we understand how information about print is transmitted from the adult to the child. And we've developed this intervention that really helps adults center in on the things that we need and want children to learn."
There are different ways that adults can talk to children about print. They can point to a letter and discuss it, and even trace the shape with a finger. They can point out a word: "This is ’dog.’" They can discuss the meaning of the print or how the words tell the story. And they can
talk about the organization of the print -- for instance, showing how words are written left to right in English.
And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I’m Bob Doughty.
LAURA JUSTICE: “孩子们学习的轨迹在哪里？空间在哪里？我想，我们在培养一些孩子印刷课本知识上找到了这个轨迹。”
LAURA JUSTICE: “我想，我们明白了印刷课本上的知识是如何从大人灌输给孩子的，围绕这种介入活动，就可以帮助大人以孩子需要或想学的知识为中心。”