Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beginning Reading

Question: Does “primerese” (i.e., controlled) writing in basal series cause problems for children learning to read?

Answer/Quote: “By the time they begin learning to read in school, children know a great deal about the forms and functions of language. This article describes some of the mismatches that can occur between child knowledge and the language of controlled ‘primerese’ texts used to teach reading.”

“The results … indicate that the controls and distinctive features of primerese text are counterproductive.”

“The question we address in this study is what happens when linguistically knowledgeable children encounter the kind of unnatural ‘primerese’ language typically used in basal texts for beginning readers. p. 380.

“The unnatural features of primerese may have negative consequences that go well beyond the kinds of miscues reported here. They may cause children to approach reading in a way that entails more attention to print and less to meaning.” P. 396.

Comment: I have not read recent editions of basal readers. It is my understanding that they have adopted many of the features of whole language, including real children’s literature. Does real children’s literature cause problems in mismatches between children’s knowledge of language and the non-controlled language of real literature? RayS.

Title: “Child Knowledge and Primerese Text: Mismatches and Miscues.” HD Simons and P Ammon. Research in the Teaching of English (December 1989), 380-398.

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