Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reading, Writing and ESL Students

Note: Normally, I do not publish my blog, English Updates, on weekends. However, I publish several other blogs during the week having to do with ideas in English education that are not current, but still useful. On weekends, I will publish samples of these ideas. RayS.

Question: Why should reading and writing be taught together in working with ESL students?

Answer/Quote: “Most experts agree that although not identical, reading and writing are similar…and mutually supportive…language processes.”

Quote: “In her informative and thorough review of research on reading and writing relationships, Stotsky (1983) concluded that (1) good writers tend to be better readers than are less able writers, (2) good writers tend to read more frequently and widely and to produce more syntactically complex writings, (3) writing itself does not tend to influence reading comprehension, but when writing is taught for the purpose of enhancing reading, there are significant gains in comprehension and retention of information , and (4) reading experiences have as great an effect on writing as direct instruction in grammar and mechanics.”

Comment: My own experiences bear out the effects of reading on writing. In the early 1970s, I conducted a workshop for fifth- and sixth-grade teachers on establishing a writing curriculum for grades 5 and 6. In the course of the workshop, we invited six people for whom writing was an important part of their professions. They included children’s books authors, newspaper writers, and a lawyer. Five of the six writers said that they had never learned to write in school, but they never remembered being without a book as they passed through the grades. I think it’s pretty clear, both from the research and from my personal experiences, that reading influences writing—for native-English speakers and ESL students. RayS.

Title: “Comprehending through Reading and Writing: Six Research-Based Instructional Strategies.” N Farnan, J Flood and D Lapp. Pp. 135-137. In Kids Come in All Languages: Reading Instruction for ESL Students. Eds. K Spangensberg-Urgschat and R Pritchard. Newark, DE: IRA. 1994, 108-131.

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