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Title: Beyond ABC : investigating current rationales and systems for the teaching of early reading to young learners of English
Author: Rixon, Shelagh
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 2339
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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The premise of this thesis is that the role of the first steps in reading in courses for Young Learners of English (YL) at the beginner stage is a neglected area, with anomalies centred around the fact that ‘words on the page ’are often treated as if they were facilitative from the outset for language work in areas such as speaking while very little support is offered to children as to how to decode these words. Chapter 1 (Introduction) traces the rapid spread of YL teaching worldwide and considers the preparation of teachers for their roles. Materials are discussed as an important source of support and structure for teachers and a case is made for a focus in the main study on systems and rationales for early reading found among teachers themselves or evidenced in published materials. Chapter 2 (Literature Review) discusses relevant issues for systematic support for YL in their first steps in reading English. Areas discussed are: Teacher Cognition, Sociocultural inductions to reading, Orthographic Depth, Phonology, research on reading development across languages and influences in the YL world of established early reading methods for English native-speaking children. Chapter 3 (Research Methodology) justifies the decision to investigate the area via two main studies: (1) questionnaires and in-depth interviews with EYL professionals and (2) close analysis of course materials. It is argued that the qualitative stance of the former is not in conflict with the more objective and quantitative handling of course material data since both are appropriate ways of focusing on the same issue. A third, small-scale, study of the publishing experiences of curriculum experts and materials writers is justified and described. Chapter 4 (Findings) reports and integrates the findings of both main studies and summarizes the findings from the study with curriculum experts and materials writers. Main findings are that EYL professionals tend not to put linguistic considerations high in their priorities for decision-making and that materials analyzed had an underlay in the Alphabetic Principle but were dominated by ‘ABC’ ordering of Reading-Focal items and included activities which tended not to promote pattern-seeking or other behaviour likely to lead to ‘self-teaching’. Chapter 5 (Discussion) discusses the significance of the findings of the two main studies and uses the results of the third study to add balance to the materials analysis study. Limitations of, and reflections on, the research are discussed. Chapter 6 (Conclusions) draws implications for professional education, pedagogy and materials illustrated by examples in the Appendices. Claims are made for the contributions of the study that (1) it opens up discussion on an area of YL teaching which has been neglected both in the research literature and in practical materials creation (2) through the use of in-depth interviews it allows a voice for EYL professionals which has not been heard before (3) the concepts of Reading-Focal versus Vehicular language in YL course materials are claimed as new and useful, leading directly (4) to procedures and analysis tools which can be used with any set of YL materials. Directions for further research building on this thesis are indicated.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB1501 Primary Education