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An exploration of diversity in the adult basic education literacy classroom Krieger, Beverley Elaine 1996

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AN EXPLORATION OF DIVERSITY IN THE ADULT BASIC EDUCATION LITERACY CLASSROOM by BEVERLEY ELAINE KRIEGER B.Ed. (Secondary), The University of British Columbia, 1963 Post Baccalaureate Diploma, Simon Fraser University, 1992 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Language Education) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1996 © Beverley Elaine Krieger, 1996 Abstract A narrative inquiry study was conducted to explore the educational experiences and perceptions of literacy of a small group of adult literacy learners from various language backgrounds. The purpose of the study was to identify the common experiences of this representative group of adult literacy learners in order to explore some implications for practice in the literacy classroom. The four groups represented included: (a) Canadian born whose only language is English, (b) immigrant from a country where English is the official language, but it is nonstandard English, (c) EASL immigrant, and (d) Canadian born, but whose initial language acquisition was in a language other than English. The questions for the study were developed through input from members of the Provincial Fundamental Articulation Committee and Academic and Career Preparation English faculty from the institution where the study was conducted. In addition, a pilot study was conducted to further refine the questions for the study prior to the actual study. The study was conducted over a five month period, with the subjects chosen from the researcher's classroom. A number of common themes were identified. Previous school experience had been a struggle, and didn't meet the literacy skill expectations of the subjects. All were comfortable with their native spoken language, but all reported problems with reading or writing. Although, everyone saw reading as gaining meaning from print, primarily passive strategies for meaning acquisition were reported. A supportive environment was identified as important for optimum learning to occur. All had a pragmatic ii approach to learning. All learned best by doing. Improved literacy skills were perceived as necessary for improved employment opportunities and a better life. The implications for instruction identified by the researcher included awareness of the learning gaps that may have hindered the subjects' acquisition of literacy skills (including mastery of basic English decoding), a metacognitive approach to learning, a caring sensitive, flexible instructor, and a supportive learning environment. Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iv List of Tables vii Acknowledgement viii Dedication ix Chapter One - INTRODUCTION 1 The Purpose of the Study 5 Research Questions 6 Definitions of Terms Used 7 Significance of the Study 9 Organization of the Thesis 12 Chapter Two - REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE 14 Learners' Beliefs About Themselves in Society 14 Beliefs About Reading and Writing 19 Personal 19 Theory-Based 22 Beliefs About Learners and How They Learn 25 Personal 25 Adult Learning Theory 28 Plans and Goals 29 Literacy Practices 31 Summary 35 Chapter Three - METHODOLOGY 37 Instrument Development 37 Sample Selection 43 Data Collection 44 Interview Administration 45 Result Interpretation 45 Chapter Four - THE LIFE STORIES OF FOUR LITERACY LEARNERS FROM VARIOUS LANGUAGE BACKGROUNDS 48 Chuck's Story 48 Early Childhood 49 Elementary School 49 Secondary School 51 Adult Basic Education 53 Early Reading Experiences 54 Reading Habits 55 Reflections on Reading, Writing, & Language Skills 56 Perceptions of the Reading, Writing, & Learning Process 57 Angela's Story 60 Early Childhood 61 iv Language Background 62 Elementary School 62 Trade School 67 Secondary School 67 Vocational Skills Training 68 Adult Basic Education 69 Early Reading Experience 70 Reading Habits 72 Reflections on Reading, Writing, and Language Skills 73 Perceptions of Reading, Writing, and Learning Process 75 Ellen's Story 81 Early Childhood 81 Language Background 82 Elementary School 82 Night School 88 Private Canadian College 89 Adult Basic Education 90 Early Reading Experiences 91 Reading Habits 92 Reflections on Reading, Writing, & Language Skills 93 Perceptions of the Reading, Writing, & Learning Process 94 Holly's Story 99 Early Childhood 99 Language Background 100 Elementary School 101 Secondary School 105 Adult Basic Education 111 Early Reading Experience 112 Reflections on Reading, Writing, & Language Skills 113 Perceptions of the Reading, Writing, & Learning Process 114 Chapter 5 - SUMMARY, LIMITATIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 119 Summary 119 Previous School Experiences 119 Learners' Perceptions of Language, Reading, and Learning 121 Kinds of Interactions that Promote Literacy 124 Application of Literacy Skills to the Real World 125 Best Approaches for Literacy Acquisition from the Subjects' 127 Perspective Actual Experiences of Acquiring Literacy Skills 129 Limitations of the Study 130 Implications for the Theory of Adult Literacy 132 Assumptions Regarding Learning 132 The Connections Between Language and Literacy 133 Metacognitive Aspects of Literacy Acquisition 137 Time Required for Literacy Acquisition 140 v Implications for Adult Literacy Practice 141 General Principles for Practice 141 Principles for Reading Instruction 143 The Role of the Instructor 145 Recommendations 146 Future Directions for Adult Literacy Research 146 Bibliography 147 Appendices 154 Appendix 1 - KEY STATEMENTS FOR ANNALS 154 Appendix 2 - POSSIBLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 155 Appendix 3 - ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS AND REWORDING SUGGESTED BY PRACTITIONERS 157 Appendix 4 - QUESTIONS OF THE ACTUAL STUDY - DEVELOPED AFTER THE PILOT STUDY 164 Appendix 5 - MEMORANDUM TO EXPERTS 170 Appendix 6 - SUBJECT CONSENT FORM 171 Appendix 7 - PROCEDURAL MEMO TO SUBJECTS 173 Appendix 8 - LETTER OF PERMISSION TO CONDUCT STUDY 174 vi List of Tables Table 1 Summary of Expert Prioritization of Language Background Questions 39 Table 2 Summary of Expert Suggestions Regarding Language Background 39 Questions Table 3 Summary of Expert Prioritization of Reading Experience Questions 39 Table 4 Summary of Expert Suggestions Regarding Reading Experience 40 Questions Table 5 Summary of Expert Prioritization of School Experience Questions 40 Table 6 Summary of Expert Suggestions Regarding School Experience 40 Questions Table 7 Changes to Language Background Questions Generated by Expert Survey & Pilot Study 41 Table 8 Changes to Reading Experience Questions Generated by Expert Survey & Pilot Study 42 Table 9 Changes to School Experience Questions Generated by Expert Survey & Pilot Study 42 vii Acknowledgements I would like to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to those people who have helped to make the completion of this thesis possible. I would like to thank my friend and advisor, Dr. Florence Pieronek, without whose encouragement and guidance I would never have embarked upon this project. Her initial support and generous sharing of materials are certainly reasons for its successful completion. I would also like to thank Dr. Ann Lukasevich who willingly accepted me as a student when Dr. Pieronek left for a new career, and whose perceptive critique and guidance have been very much appreciated. In addition, I would like to thank Dr. Lee Gunderson and Dr. Marvin Westwood for their encouragement and sharing of their professional expertise. Sincere thanks also go to the literacy learners who have taught me so much, and who were the inspiration for this thesis. The support of my colleagues at Kwantlen University College has also been much appreciated. Most of all, I would like to thank my husband, Jim, who has been my primary support from the beginning. DEDICATION This thesis is dedicated to my husband, Jim, and my sons, Garth and Kurt Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION There is a widespread and growing concern worldwide, in both the popular press and professional literature, concerning adult literacy-the extent of it, the problems presented by it, and the issues related to overcoming it. During the mid 1970s, the United States conducted the Adult Performance Level , (APL) survey. This survey looked at "performance tasks" as indicators of literacy competency. The projection from this survey was that by the year 2000, one third of Americans would be illiterate. This was followed, in 1985, by an American survey of young adults aged 21 to 25. This National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) measured three different types of competencies: prose literacy, document literacy, and quantitative literacy. This survey presented respondents' abilities along the three competencies cited. The main finding was that the simple inability to read-"illiteracy" was far less prevalent than difficulties in using literacy skills to perform simple tasks. In 1987, a Canadian survey similar to the American NAEP was conducted. This survey was entitled the Southam News study, and defined functional literacy as the abilty to function in society. The items were adapted from the 1985 U.S. study for the National Assessment of Educational Progress with Canadian spellings, materials, and topical references substituted for the American ones. The results showed that approximately 24 per cent of Canadians, ages 18 years and older, were functionally illiterate. Subsequently, Statistics Canada conducted a study in 1989, and confirmed the general patterns found earlier in the Southam survey, while adding greater detail and precision. Their findings revealed a 20 per cent illiteracy rate. This assessment suggested, as did the 1985 U.S. NAEP survey, that the largest problem was presented 1 by individuals who could read very simple messages, but had severely limited abilities to use their skills to complete complex tasks Since adult literacy was seen as crucial to economic performance, and governments and international bodies Wanted to understand more about short falls in literacy skills across industrialized countries, in 1994, seven member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Europe and North America undertook the International Literacy Survey. The literacy tasks involved prose, document, and qualitative literacy, and consisted of five levels of proficiency. The Canadian results of this survey showed little change from the previous two nationwide studies. The average percentage of adults functioning at a Level 1 or 2, or considered functionally illiterate, remained at an average of 21.5%. The economic costs of illiteracy are felt in three major ways. These include (a) costs to the individual-unemployment (13% in Canada at Level 1 - OECD, 1995), (b) low income levels, (c) less ability to compete for jobs, and (d) psychological impacts due to poor self-image and perceptions of capability. The firms who employ these adults are also affected. Productivity losses and errors in inputs and processes reduce product quality, and problems in job reassignment impact negatively on employers. Society at large also suffers. Consequences of low literacy levels to society include higher product costs due to increased production costs, and higher costs for training programs supported by the public purse (O'Neill & Sharpe, 1991). Many of the people who lack adequate literacy skills return to school to acquire these skills because of a desire for improvement and/or because of external pressure from various funding agencies or employers. Such learners are very diverse and come from a variety of family, cultural, socioeconomic, experiential, educational, and language backgrounds. They all come for a variety of reasons such as to improve their literacy skills for personal needs, the demands of the workplace, or the threshold requirements for academic or career programs. 2 In order to understand these learners, The Advanced Education Council of BC (1995) commissioned an Adult Basic Education Student Outcomes Project. This was undertaken in twelve BC colleges and institutes, and the demographics were very revealing. Fifty-eight per cent of the participants in Adult Basic Education were female, and the majority were between 20 and 40 years of age. The reasons for enrollment were very diverse. Twenty-seven per cent enrolled in order to upgrade their academic skills, so they could access other college programs. Thirteen per cent enrolled in order to upgrade their skills, and another 13 per cent enrolled to get better jobs. Eleven per cent enrolled for general education, and interestingly enough only 11 per cent enrolled for high school completion. The learners who enroll in Adult Basic Education programs reflect the diversity of educational levels of Adult Basic Education learners. Only 12% of adult Canadians who have attained elementary school education have the required reading skills to meet daily demands. The figure jumps to 48% for Canadians with some high school schooling and to 70% for those whose highest level of schooling is secondary completion (Statistics Canada, 1991). Therefore, it is not surprising that even high school graduates are enrolled in Adult Basic Education literacy programs. Taylor (1989) in his study of adult basic education programs identified two types of learners-immigrants and native born Canadians. In a study commissioned by the BC Royal Commission pn Education (1988), four cultural groups in the school system were identified. These included: (a) indigenous Canadians - Aboriginal, (b) heritage Canadians - families who have been in Canada for three or more generations, (c) people who are Canadian born but whose parents immigrated here, and (d) new Canadians who are immigrants themselves. The 1991 Canadian census included some interesting data concerning language groups. In metropolitan Vancouver, 8.4% of the respondents had Chinese as a mother tongue and 7.2% had it as a home language. Punjabi was ranked next with 2.5% of the respondents citing it as their mother tongue and 2.2% of the respondents identifying it as their home language. In addition, 10.2% of the respondents identified a language other than French or English as their mother tongue, and 6.0% identified it as their home language. Literacy clearly involves language skills, and it is this common denominator that formed the basis of the selection of participants in this study. The educational experiences of one person from each of four distinct language groups of typical Adult Basic Education literacy learners will be explored--(a) Canadian born with English as the only language, (b) English speaking immigrant from a country where English is the official language, but it is nonstandard English, (c) a speaker of English as a second or additional language, and (d) Canadian born whose initial language acquisition was in their heritage language and who may or may not be bilingual in that language and English. Research findings have shown that literacy for the adult is not simply the act of reading and writing. Adults bring their own images, practices, plans, and perceptions of literacy and learning processes to their acquisition of literacy skills. Literacy acquisition is a complex and multilayered phenomenon, and it is essential that in dealing with adults that we understand their perspectives. In considering the cultural scripts that adults bring to and take from learning, there are four dimensions that are operative-beliefs, literacy activities or processes, literacy practices, and learners' plans and goals (Zieghan, 1992). Beliefs are a major component in understanding the adult learner. No adult learner is a taba rose. The learners have beliefs about themselves as members of the community, as members of a family, and as workers. They also have beliefs about reading, writing, and the instructional process. As well, learners have beliefs about themselves as learners and how they learn. 4 Literacy practices are simply the activities that are employed daily in the learners' lives. An awareness of these literacy activities, in which learners already engage, often awakens a latent competency and self-awareness as a literate person, within the adult literacy learner. Processes are the specific moment-to-moment transactions that the learner engages in with print. This includes going beyond decoding and encoding and encourages readers' reactions to the print. It also includes the accessing of prior knowledge that the reader brings to print. Included are the strategies employed in synthesis, evaluation, and application of the print medium. In addition, adult learners have specific plans and goals for their literacy acquisition. An understanding of a particular learner's plans, practices, and processes can assist in negotiating the learner's ongoing goal and decision making. Therefore, this study was designed to explore the educational memories of the four adult learners as they first learned to read the printed word and subsequently experienced formal and informal education. Throughout the study, there will be a further exploration of the four dimensions of the adult literacy acquisition process-beliefs about literacy acquisition, literacy activities or processes, literacy practices, and learners' plans and goals. The Purpose of the Study The purpose of the study was to investigate lifelong experiences on adults' acquisition of literacy skills including: •beliefs about themselves as members of the community, as members of a family, and as workers. •beliefs about reading and writing and the instructional process. •beliefs about themselves as learners and how they learn and have learned. •awareness of literacy activities that were employed in the learners' daily lives. 5 •the processes involved in the learners' moment-to moment transactions with print, including readers' reactions to the print, activation of prior knowledge, and the strategies employed in the synthesis, evaluation, and application of the print medium. •awareness of specific goals for literacy acquisition. Research Questions Specifically the study will seek answers to the following questions: 1. What are the characteristics of four diverse learners in an Adult Basic Education literacy classroom in terms of previous learning experiences and how have these affected their current reading ability? 2. What are these ABE learners' perceptions of literacy and learning? 3. What are the kinds of interactions that promote literacy? 4. What are the applications of literacy skills to the ABE learners' real world? , 5. What, in the opinion of these four literacy learners, are the best approaches to acquire literacy skills? 6. What are the common experiences of these four learners in acquiring literacy skills which may address classroom practice? 6 Definitions of Terms Used The following terms are important in understanding the study. Literacy - There have been many attempts to define literacy. The first as described by Ahman (1975), was the definition of literacy in absolute terms, as an achievement of grade level. The second was the definition of literacy, within a particular context, with emphasis on the skills need to perform the literacy tasks in that context. Fingeret (1984) suggested that "literacy is a shifting, abstract item, impossible to define in isolation from a specific time, place, and culture (p.7)." Literacy, therefore, is described as "culturally and historically J relative (p.7)." Definitions can also include a variety of purposes for literacy. They can include (a) literacy for "survival" in a particular context (reading a manual for work), (b) literacy for empowerment, ("Literacy is closely related to self-reliance and a sense of personal power over conditions that affect one's life." Hunter & Harman, 1979, p.1), and (c) literacy for development of social awareness (using literacy in social situations to communicate and express themselves and to gain a deeper and more adequate understanding of themselves and their world). Most current definitions have expanded the scope of literacy beyond reading and writing skills to describe literacy in terms of the adult's ability to function within a particular society or segment of society. Throughout this report, the term "literacy" is used to refer to a particular mode of behaviour -- namely the ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities at home, at work, and in the community -- to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and 7 potential. In denoting a broad set of information-processing competencies, this conceptual approach points to the multiplicity of skills that constitute literacy in advanced industrialized countries. In contrast, a term such as illiteracy, which is still widely used in many countries, fails to alert the reader to the important facts that all people are literate to a degree, and that no single standard of literacy can be used. (OECD, 1995, p. 14) Adult Basic Education (ABE) - Although Adult Basic Education refers to skills and content upgrading to the Grade 12 level, for the purpose of this thesis it is synonymous with literacy. This term is defined in reference to the institution where the study is being conducted, as reading below the Grade 8.0 level on a standardized reading test. English as a Second or Additional Language (EASL) - This term is defined in reference to the institution where the study is being conducted, as people whose first language is not English, but who have met the criteria for entrance to the ABE program, in that they have (a) an Auditory Vocabulary of Grade 5.0 Equivalency, and (b) at least 60% accuracy on a standardized reading test appropriate for learners at a Grade 8.0 equivalency, or (c) who have had five years or more of schooling in Canada in English. General Educational Development (GED) - This consists of a battery of five tests administered by a provincial examining board to adults (those over the age of 19), who (a) have been out school for two years or more, and (b) who do not have a Grade 12 diploma from any other jurisdiction. The areas examined include: mathematics, science, social studies, literature and the arts, and writing 8 skills. Upon successful completion of this battery of examinations, the applicant is issued a GED diploma which is a Grade 12 equivalency. The GED is offered in all ten provinces and throughout the United States. Heritage Language - Heritage language is a language other than English that is spoken in the home and is the first language of the parents. Native Speaker - This term refers to an individual who was born in Canada and who has spoken only English all his or her life. Significance of the Study A phenomenological and historical study will be undertaken of one learner in each of the language groups cited. It is hoped that the reporting and interpretation of the learner's own words will demonstrate the nature of adult illiteracy, the factors that may lead to it, and the adult literacy acquisition process. Friere (1981) states: The question of the importance of reading is addressed by considering the ways in which experience itself is read through the interactions of the self and the world. Through examining memories of childhood it is possible to view objects and experiences as texts, words, and letters and to see the growing awareness of the world as a kind of reading through which the self learns and changes. The actual reading of literacy texts is seen as part of a wider process of human development and growth based on one's understanding both one's own experience and the social world. Learning to read must be seen as one aspect of the act of knowing and as a creative act. Reading the world thus precedes reading the word....(p.5) 9 Adults have specific plans and goals for their literacy acquisition. An understanding of a particular learner's plans, practices, and processes can assist in negotiating the learners' ongoing goal setting, decision making, and literacy acquisition process. According to Brown (1992), phenomenology is not an attempt to give meaning to lived experiences. Rather, phenomenology describes lived experience. In other words, the phenomenologist does not look at the material learned, but at what the learning experience is like for an individual. The literacy learning of an adult is not a simple process. The experience of education does not occur in a vacuum. As Grumet (1992) states, Whenever we speak of education, we are speaking of a person's experiences in the world. Despite the unique specificity of each person's perspective, the intentionality of all conscious acts focuses our gaze on some object, real or imagined, we exist always in context. Colloquial assessments of a person's education are often descriptions of that context, in the field of experience. The judgment that one is 'well-educated' may be a measure of social class, literacy, years of schooling, travel, the length and breadth of experience. All or any of these measures describe, if superficially, a person's experience in the world, as such, they are more descriptive of outer status than of inner condition.... Just as art requires the imposition of subjectivity upon the objective stuff of the world, and is embodied in that stuff—in its materials, forms, and limitation-so education requires a blending of objectivity with the unique subjectivity of the person, its infusion into the structures and shapes of the psyche....Viewed from this perspective, education emerges as a metaphor for a person's dialogue with the world of his or her experience. (p.38-43) 10 By paying attention to learner's beliefs, practices, processes, and plans, researchers, practitioners, and adult learners themselves come to view the literacylearning process as multi-dimensional. Constructing such a picture requires a process of coinvestigation in which the adult learner plays a central role, not only in providing the data, but also in analyzing and making sense of it from personal experience. In generating knowledge about literacy development, researchers need to take into account the many texts and interpretations that learners bring. Therefore, they should design research that does not simply support their own perspective, but rather reflects the learners' perspective. Even the most recalcitrant resisters dream of attaining an education, but their past nightmares of past school live on. We need further research which seeks to understand such perspectives and needs-research across the educational age and educational system lines. Only in hearing more voices can we hear and offer more alternatives to adults. (Quigley, 1993, p.88) Adult literacy learning is not a progressive process of moving from the known along a continuum. It is rather a series of encounters between an individual's life story and the ever-changing combination of learning situations presented by the external environment, whether it is at work, at home, or in a place of learning. The construction of vivid images of how literacy unfolds or becomes visible in adulthood may depend upon the blurring of distinctions between teacher and learner, researcher and researched. In the words of T.S. Eliot (1970) from Four Quartets. What we call the beginning is often the end And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. 11 A people without history , f Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern Of timeless moments... We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. (pp. 207-208) It is hoped that through this study, literacy practitioners will have a better understanding of literacy learners, and that literacy learners will have gained a clearer understanding of themselves in their personal acquisition of literacy skills. Organization of the Thesis The thesis is organized into five chapters. The first chapter deals with the problem. The problem is defined, a rationale is provided for the study, the purposes of the study are defined, the research questions are stated, the terms used are defined, the significance of the study is delineated, and a preview of the organization of the thesis is provided, The second chapter is a review of the related literature. Five themes are explored. The first four themes focus on the adult learner: (a) the learners' beliefs about themselves in society; (b) beliefs about reading and writing from a personal perspective and from a research perspective; (c) beliefs about learners and how they learn from a personal perspective and from an adult learning theory perspective; and (d) the goals and plans of adult learners. The final theme is literacy practices. The third chapter discusses the methodology employed in the study. First, the design of the study is discussed. Then, the selection of subjects is. described. Since this is a phenomenological study, the procedures used in designing the questions are described. Then, the interview conditions are described. ' The fourth chapter describes the data collected and provides the life stories of the four main participants. The fifth chapter gives a summary of the study, discussion of the limitations of the study, implications for adult literacy theory, implications for literacy practice, and recommendations for future adult literacy research based on the researcher's findings. Chapter 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE There have been many studies about Adult Basic Education learners and Adult Basic Education instruction. These studies have assisted in the design of Adult Basic Education curriculum and program planning and have facilitated the understanding of learners by practitioners. The literature review will explore five themes. The first four themes focus on the adult learner-- (a) adult learners' beliefs about the role of the adult in society (including the role of the family), (b) beliefs about reading and writing, (c) beliefs about learners and how they learn, and (d) learners' plans and goals. This is followed by a review of current literacy practices in the Adult Basic Education classroom. Learners' Beliefs about Themselves in Society The adult literacy learner is by definition an adult, and assumes all the roles of adulthood. These include roles in society at large, local community, family, and work. Verner (1964), one of the early scholars in adult education, defines an adult as a person who has reached the stage of life where he or she is responsible for himself or herself or others and has assumed a role in his or her community. Knowles (1978) posits a taxonomic system of the life roles of adults. These include: learner, a self with unique self-identity, friend, citizen, family member, worker, and leisure-time user. Parallel with these are competencies that Knowles suggests are necessary for the development of these life roles. For the learner role, reading, writing, computing, perceiving, conceptualizing, evaluating, imagining, and inquiring are the suggested competencies. Reading, writing, and computing are the traditional literacy competencies. For being a self with unique self-identity, he lists self-analyzing, sensing, goal-building, objectivising, value-clarifying, and expressing as necessary competencies. In the role of friend, competencies suggested include loving, , empathizing, listening, collaborating, sharing, helping, giving feedback, and supporting. As a citizen the adult must have the competencies of caring, participating, leading, decision-making, acting, "conscientizing", discussing, and having a historical and cultural perspective. Being a family member requires the competencies of maintaining health, planning, managing, helping, sharing, buying, saving, loving, and taking responsibility. As a worker, the adult requires competencies in career planning, technical skills, using supervision, giving supervision, getting along with people, cooperating, planning, delegating, and managing. Finally, as a leisure-time user, the adult must know resources, appreciate the arts and humanities, perform, play, relax, reflect, plan, and risk. From Knowles' roles and competencies, one can see that the role of the adult in society is not a simple one, but a very complex one, and that literacy skills, although they are only one small part of the adult learner's life and roles, affect most areas of an adult's life. However, social change occurs at a furious rate and produces gaps between the problems and challenges that people face and the competencies required of the adult. Knox (1980) notes that change has many faces. These included (a) increased mobility, (b) a population increase along with a great division or specialization of labor, and (c) a fractionalization of social relationships. There is also an institutionalization of most domains of life which encourages interdependence and conformity. Therefore, the goal of learners in literacy programs is not necessarily simply the recognition of words, but the ability to function more effectively in their rapidly changing world. Not only are there changes in society at large, but the demographics of society are also changing. There are older adults and more adults. Cross (1981) predicts that by the year 2000, the largest age group will be 30 to 44 year olds, with a. rising curve for 45 to 64 year olds. There is also a growing cultural and ethnic diversity. Today's immigrants in the Lower Mainland are more likely to come from Asia and the Pacific 15 Rim, rather than from Europe, as in the past (Statistics Canada, 1991). In addition, Apps (1988) sees the global community as having a "profound" effect on learning. Because of the shrinking global community and increased media coverage, interest in people and events beyond the borders of our cities, our province, and our country are rapidly expanding. As a result of this "globalization", there are the beginnings of changes in fundamental assumptions about other peoples and cultures. Everyone has experienced rapid changes due to technological growth. From shopping by computer to banking by computer, to using the fax and the Internet information highway, our everyday life has been irrevocably changed by technology. Not only does technology affect our personal lives, but it also affects our work. To be literate in today's world, people must also feel comfortable using technology. They must be able to use various tools to record, assess, organize, and disseminate information as well as be competent with mechanized equipment in the workplace. Applebee, Langer, and Mullis (1987) suggest the following: The technological and information systems available to individuals both at home and work have accentuated the differences in opportunities available to those who have well-developed literacy skills and those who do not. On the one hand, technology is reducing the literacy skills needed to complete routine tasks;on the other hand, the skills needed to develop and control these technologies are becoming increasingly complex. While the needs of the work force do not require that all individuals have advanced literacy skills, the lack of such skills can prevent them from attaining positions that they may desire, (p. 6) Therefore, people must be willing and able to adapt to changes readily and independently so that they can approach new versions or even completely new technology with confidence. The Conference Board of Canada (1991) notes that 85 16 per cent of the technology in the year 2000 has not yet been invented, and that workers need to develop the intellectual, technological, communication, and interpersonal skills that are needed for the workforce to become lifelong learners. The technological changes tend to rock the value systems of a society based on an economy of scarcity and the Protestant work ethic (work hard and you will be successful). Boucouvalas (1987) points out that in an industrial society, machine technology extends physical ability, while in an information society, computer technology extends mental ability. This has resulted in a demand for new skills by present day employers. The Conference Board of Canada (1992) generated an Employability Skills Profile that outlines the skills that employers of the 90s desire. These include communication, thinking, a desire for life long learning, positive attitudes and behaviors, responsibility, and the ability to work well with others. In addition, Boucouvalas and Krupp (1989) note that adult learning rests on the interaction between: (a) individual differences (biology, neurology, personality, emotional systems, cognition and intelligence), (b) social and cultural factors (social class, ethnic group, educational level, political system, subculture, relationships, organizations, and environment), and (c) historical factors (cohort expectations or behaviors and personal history). Concurrent with these technological advances there has been an information explosion. Families are also an important part of the literacy learner's society. In a 1984 case study of an illiterate learning to read, Belz looked at educational therapy as a model for helping illiterate adults to learn to read. The subject described was Joe,.a 40-year old male; who was in the reading instruction program for five years. Belz employed five stages in her case summary-exploration, experimentation, reflection, working through, and freedom to learn. It was in the exploration phase, where Joe described former educational experiences and how he approached the task of decoding written language both cognitively and psychologically. During the experimentation stage, Joe received direct instruction in phonemic awareness and 17 began to "internalize" the decoding system that successful readers use. As Joe reached the reflection stage, once he had mastered the basics of literacy, he began to realize the impact that his family's attitudes had had upon his view of the world and of " learning. Remarks by his parents that he would have to make the best of things, led him to approach the task of learning to read with anger and bitterness. This "baggage" initially hindered his progress in reading skill acquisition. Once he had adequately worked this through, he began to take a more active role in determining the format of the presentation of new material, and to integrate new learning into the learning framework that had been established. The final step for Joe was the "freedom to learn". Joe had become more directive about his educational work and displayed more initiative and self-control. Moulton and Holmes (1994) explored the effect of literacy acquisition on a family in a case study of a 47-year old plumber. They were exploring whether literacy instruction changed an adult student's interactions with his family during the learning period. The study took place over the fall and spring semesters of the academic year. They discovered that as the father learned to read, the family made his task less difficult by providing support, and respecting his literacy initiatives. In addition, they discovered that the act of learning to read created some conflicts within the family, due to the shift in roles as the literacy learner gained confidence in his ability. He was no longer so dependent. It is important for the literacy provider to be aware of the literacy , learner's life and interactions within the family. If the family is involved, literacy becomes part of the learners' daily life. It is through this involvement that the learner becomes increasingly literate. \ The results of these studies show that it is important for the literacy provider to be aware of the patterns in a literacy learner's life outside the literacy provision environment, particularly the interactions within the family, both past and present, and their impact upon literacy acquisition. 18 Beliefs about Reading and Writing Personal The perception of the reading process by adult poor readers is very revealing. Raisner (1978) examined the miscues of 14 college students in a reading skills class at a state college. All were black, were older than the traditional college undergraduates, spoke English as their first language, and were designated nonproficient in reading on the basis of a standardized test. They orally read college level text onto a tape recorder, and the researcher used miscue analysis and retelling to analyze the learners' strategies. The results showed that there was reliance primarily on print-based cues and little use was made of context clues. Her conclusions were that these learners gave great attention to the graphic cues, but as a group, they did not seem to be sensitive to syntactic patterns and the predictive clues that are supplied by these patterns. Gambrell and Heathington (1981) compared the metacognitive awareness of task, and strategy variables of adult good readers and adult disabled readers in an interview study. Twenty-eight adult poor readers and 28 adult good readers answered questions about the effects of task parameters and cognitive strategies involved in reading. Both adult good and poor readers were aware of the task variables of motivation, interest, and prior knowledge. However, the adult poor readers were not aware of the significance of text structure or organization in comprehending paragraphs and stories. They viewed reading as a decoding, not a comprehending process. Kirsch and Guthrie (1984) tried to understand the reading demands that people in various occupations were likely to encounter. In order to do this, they used case studies and structured interviews to examine the reading practices of ninety-nine adults across various occupational categories in a Fortune 500 company, The occupational 19 and semi-skilled workers, and service workers. Three dimensions of reading practice were considered. These included the content or subject matter, the format in which the subject matter occurred, and the uses that people had for reading the content and material. They found that reading was not an inconsequential aspect of life outside the classroom, and that the topics read in the work environment were almost completely ignored in the other environment. Employees saw reading as a necessary and continuing part of their job and career development. Some noted that they were required to learn how to read in new ways that they had never read before, such as reading and writing basic computer programs and reading materials that highlighted the new developments in their specific field. The conclusion that Kirsch and Guthrie drew is that different reading competencies are required to perform tasks associated with a variety of social, personal, and occupational contexts. This has implications in the design of individualized programs to meet the needs of literacy learners who must function in the increasingly complex workplace. Mudd (1987) compared the strategies of adults and children in the early stages of learning to read. There were 72 adults ranging in age from 19.0 to 44.11 years and 96 children ranging in age from 7.0 to 7.11 in the study. All subjects read two texts orally. The readings were tape recorded and timed, and a miscue analysis with regard to readers' sensitivity to graphic and semantic constraints was performed. The subjects' comprehension of the texts and the texts' vocabulary were also tested orally. Through an analysis of variance, it was found that adult readers did not necessarily make more use of semantic cues than children. Further, Mudd concluded that although adults have superior background and linguistic knowledge and did score higher on the comprehension and vocabulary than the children, they did not rely upon the knowledge that they did have, and instead tended to read word by word with little attention to meaning. Therefore, these readers had more in common with less able child readers than able child readers or able adult readers, in that they were aware of only one strategy for word identification. ' 20 Hayes and Thomas (1989) reported on the self-perceived needs of 160 literacy learners who were functioning at or below the sixth grade level, as measured by standardized reading tests. A questionnaire was constructed to allow learners to rate the extent to which they felt that they needed to learn 20 functional tasks. Six months later a follow-up survey of 80 of the learners was conducted. Results of a factor analysis identified everyday reading and writing, mathematics and measurement/and special literacy tasks as the highest priorities perceived by literacy learners. The authors point out that, often, needs of learners as assumed by practitioners do not necessarily reflect the felt needs of learners, and that practitioners must be very sensitive to literacy learner needs rather than following a predetermined curriculum. The researchers concluded that existing programs are less effective than they could be when assisting learners to meet their self-perceived literacy needs. Norman and Malicky (1989) used miscue analysis to identify the strategies that adults use when reading. They studied 22 adults who were either just entering literacy programs or who had been in literacy programs for less than three months. The adults were all in Canadian urban centers and were between the ages of 20 and 65. Each of the participants was interviewed individually in order to gain background data and to assess concepts about reading. A series of literacy tasks was used to determine how the adults interacted with print. The first task involved familiar environmental print (store names, product names, labels, etc.) presented in picture, trademark logo or sign in isolation, and typed words in isolation. The second task was to read passages that contained familiar language of a predictable and unpredictable nature., The final task was interaction with unfamiliar material. Responses on the interview, environmental print tasks, and reading passages were rated in terms of relative use of print-based and knowledge-based information. The authors suggested that in the first stage of reading, adults use language for reading. The metacognitive abilities of the adults in the study were found to be adequate when they were asked to do a specific literacy task and comment on how they did it. Most adults spontanteously relied on their 21 knowledge as they approached environmental print tasks and all types of passages. However, the material most conducive to a language based approach was found to be the predictable and language experience passages. Theory - Based The majority of adults who enroll in adult literacy programs do so, because they perceive the need to become skilled readers. Oakhill and Garnham (1988) described the processes involved in the skilled readers' acquisition of meaning about the world from print. These processes include: (a) the physiological process of eye movement in saccades, (b) the process of word recognition visually and mentally, (c) orthographic redundancy, (d) processing of ambiguous words, (e) vocalizing, and (f) syntactic, processing. All of these processes are involved in the reader's gaining meaning from print. Meaning can be literal (organized around the text), implicit (drawn from background knowledge and long term memory), and elaborative (structures perceived in the readers' personal experiential environment). Besides gaining meaning, the reader also has to determine the significance of the text. These authors conclude that reading is really a model of language processing. In establishing whether there is a sequence of skills for all readers in acquiring literacy, Bormuth (1978) posited a taxonomy of literacy skills. He identifies seven skills necessary for a variety of reading tasks. These include decoding, literal comprehension skills, inference skills, critical reading skills, aesthetic appreciation, skills, reading flexibility skills, and finally study skills. Raisner (1978) who studied the reading processes of 14 college students, concluded that reading is an interaction between thought and language, rather than merely perception of printed words. All readers, adults and children alike, reconstructed text. 22 , Stitcht (1978) notes that the acquisition of literacy includes two major interdependent learning strands -- learning to language by eye as well as one can by ear, and learning new skills for processing information from printed display. Keefe and Meyer, in a project reported in 1988, confirmed Sticht's theory. Their project was entitled "The Literacy Prescription" and provided diagnostic testing and instructional suggestions to practitioners in the field of adult literacy. They analyzed the data from reading progress reports for 106 clients, and established five identifiable groups of adult disabled readers at levels from 0.0 to 5.0 (GE). Their conclusion was that visual discrimination, auding, and languaging were integrated with reading stages in adults. Chall (1987) posits that adults and children go through identical stages in learning to read. These include: (a) prereading (reading common signs and labels), (b) decoding (letter-sound correspondences), (c) fluency (reading with fluency using context and meaning as well as decoding), (d) learning new information (reading to learn new information, adding to background knowledge and vocabulary, developing cognitive abilities), (e) reading widely from multiple viewpoints (comprehending at a variety of levels -- inferential, critical, and literal), (f) constructing and reconstructing (reading for one's own purposes to integrate personal knowledge with that of others, and creating new knowledge). Norman and Malicky (1987) used miscue analysis to assess the strategies that 123 adults who were reading at grade levels one to eight were using as they read. Oral reading miscues were analyzed in terms of reading processes, and comparisons were made across levels. The authors concluded that the ability to integrate print based and knowledge based strategies must be taught before the adult can rely heavily on language and background knowledge. The ability to integrate information sources is necessary as a preliminary to the use of knowledge based structures to accurately reconstruct the author's meaning. 23 Pratt and Brady (1988) examined both children and adults who were having difficulty with reading. They studied two populations--(a) good and poor third grade readers (n=30) and (b) good and poor Adult Basic Education and Literacy Volunteers students from Conneticut (n=26). Both were in suburban communities. Both groups were tested individually using the Raven Colored Progressive Matrices for the children and the Raven Progressive Matrices for the adults. In addition, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - Revised, and the Word Attack and Word Analysis subtests for the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests were given to both. The results of both groups were compared using MANOVA. The researchers discovered a strong relationship between phonological awareness and reading ability in both the children and adults. Their conclusion was that poor readers have a fundamental problem in acquiring awareness of the phonemic structure of language. It is not due merely to developmental delay or to simply the lack of reading experience. Rather, it seems that concepts of phonemic awareness are essential to understanding the principle of an alphabetic orthography. Savage and Morowcki (1990) theorize five stages of literacy acquisition for adult EASL learners. Five stages of reading are postulated -- (a) mechanical skills (developing visual and motor skills in a Roman alphabet), (b) connecting oral language with written language, (c) reading for new information (obtaining meaning from print), (d) reading for different reasons (obtaining meaning from a variety of print materials), . and (e) independent reading. It is clear from practice that all adults, EASL or not, do indeed go through definite stages in the acquisition of reading proficiency. 24 Beliefs about Learners and How They Learn Personal Seidow and Fox (1985) conducted a study in which they investigated how adult literacy learners recalled the early onset of reading difficulty. They designed a questionnaire that was distributed to administrators of 30 community-based literacy programs. Volunteer tutors administered the questionnaires, and 81 were returned. The authors suggest that most of the learners' difficulties lay with sounding out words, rather than reading comprehension. The strategies employed by these learners were primarily passive (skip it) and intrusive (look it up). The majority placed control outside the reader (ask someone else) or passive (slow down and reread until you get it). Use of context was rarely reported. Hunter (1990), in her exploration of the acquisition of literacy skills for her ABE learners, identified four common threads that have characterized their lives These include struggle, abuse, darkness, and silence. She conducted a phenomenological interpretive inquiry study over the period of an academic year, that explored the meaning of becoming literate for three of her students. The information for the study was drawn from the learners' personal journals, learner-instructor conversations, and transcripts of television, radio and newspaper stories that featured these learners or the instructor. These literacy learners did not have a pleasant educational experience, nor did they view learning positively. Seigel (1990) did a study in which she explored the particular educational experiences of learners from preschool through high school that influenced adult reading ability. She identified the positive factors as home support, provision of educational opportunities in the home, parental educational expectations, school attendance, homework, enrollment in the academic track, engagement in organized extra curricular activities, and placement in honors or gifted classes. Negative factors 25 V / \ included being placed in remedial classes, being held back, suspensions, and high . school level part-time jobs, watching TV, and socializing with friends. These experiences were measured using a data collection booklet specifically developed for the purpose of the study. A national sample of 2,177 high school seniors was analyzed. The experiences were measured for three time periods corresponding to preschool, elementary, and secondary schooling levels. The patterns of mean reading scores corresponding to the level of student involvement in those experiences were described. The results indicated that many learning experiences found to be related to students' reading achievement during earlier periods of development were also related to their reading ability as young adults. Most importantly, a regression analysis of the variables showed that early childhood experiences were an important predictor of adult reading status. Her conclusion is that the primary focus of the curriculum should be on those experiences identified as contributing to literacy development. Scully and Johnson (1991) conducted a descriptive study of an individual who had developed coping strategies that enabled him to function without learning to read for most of his adult life. They employed the educational therapy model that took into consideration the emotional and psychological elements involved in the reading process. As a result, not only did Chad, the subject, gain specific reading skills, but also he gained greater self-esteem and social relationships as he gained more confidence in himself and his abilities. Zieghan (1992) explored the attitudes of adults with low literacy skills toward literacy and learning. The study was conducted in a rural reservation community where 16 members of the community were interviewed about community views of literacy amongst adult poor readers. Twenty-seven low-literate adults were also interviewed about their learning. She found that although the dominant community view perpetuated messages about participation in literacy programs, there was little opportunity for participants to talk publicjy about their own literacy. Adults with low literacy skills viewed learning as separate from literacy. Low literate adults were 26 motivated to learn by practical application, understanding, and challenge. Most of the learners viewed participation in literacy programs as a deterrent to learning, rather than as a leaning process in itself. Some of the women who rarely left home found it difficult to perceive themselves as learners. This study explored the issues around motivation that learners identified as important. It is noteworthy that these learners had a pragmatic view of literacy and did not particularly equate it with learning. Courtney, Jha, and Babchuk (1994) explored the classroom experience of learners in an ABE/GED classroom. A sample of 45 students, drawn from a larger sample of 2,323 students enrolled in community college ABE/GED classes enrolled at various sites throughout a city in Nebraska, and who had registered for classes during a two year period, were interviewed using a semistructured interview protocol. The results of the interview of the sample of 45 were analyzed, and the cases were selected, according to participation and degree of integration within the class. The final sample consisted of 14 subjects. In analyzing the interviews, the researchers identified the dynamics of the classroom environment and the interactions between learners, tutors, and instructors in the classroom as being of primary importance to the learners. Therefore, the classroom environment where learning occurs was seen to be essential to success for the adult learner. It can be seen from the cited studies that a great variety of personal beliefs about learning affect literacy acquisition for the adult learner. Low self-esteem and the themes of struggle, abuse, darkness, and silence (Hunter, 1990) are predominant. Most have had a negative educational experience in the past, and thus a positive classroom environment is seen to be essential for adult literacy learners. Early childhood literacy experiences are also seen to contribute to a lack of literacy skills in adults. Finally, most adult literacy learners have a very pragmatic view of literacy acquisition and do not equate it with learning. 27 Adult Learning Theory The model bf learning that will be outlined is that of cognitive science developed by Sticht and Mac Donald (1989) and Gagne, Briggs, and Wager (1988). They use the definition of cognition found in the American Heritage Dictionary (1988). "Cognition is (1) the mental process or faculty of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment. (2) That which comes to be known, through perception, reasoning, or intuition knowledge (p. 289)." Thus, cognition refers to the mental processes used to acquire knowledge and it also refers to the knowledge that has been acquired using those mental processes. The dual nature of human intellectual activity, therefore, involves both processes and knowledge. This model suggests that human cognition is primarily a cultural and social phenomenon. The contexts in which people use their knowledge affects the knowledge they comprehend and learn. The architecture of human cognition that has been developed by these researchers involves a long term memory that stores knowledge, and a short term memory or working memory that contains our thoughts of the moment.. The working memory addresses knowledge in the long term memory, and uses that information to perform the task required. Sticht and MacDonald found that when students' were reading and occupying their short term memory with decoding print to speech, as in phonics, they could not comprehend well what they were reading. Therefore, to efficiently read and comprehend, the decoding aspect of reading had to become automatic (performed without conscious attention). In addition, to improve reading comprehension, the learner also had to develop a large body of knowledge in long term memory relevant to what was being read. 28 Sticht and Mac Donald (1989) and Cantor (1992) state that to understand an adult learner's cognitive development, the context of the individual should be studied. This includes both the environmental context, external to the person, and the internal context of the person's mental model. Understanding of the model of cognition involves the interweaving of contexts, tasks, knowledge, and information processing. Plans and Goals Why do adult literacy learners seek formal literacy instruction? A classic study of adult learner motivation was undertaken by Houle (1961). He took a nonrandom sample of 22 men and women engaged in learning, and conducted case studies which he subjected to detailed analysis. In this study, he identified three learner orientations - goal, activity, and learning oriented. Boshier and Collins (1985), using Houle's typology, suggest some general motivations for enrollment in ABE programs. These include social stimulation, social contact, external expectations, and community service Beder and Valentine (1980) identified five types of learners in ABE programs-mainstream women, the urged young adults, the climbers, less affluent and least employed, and low ability strivers. Martin (1987) developed a typology of ABE learners based on life style. He characterized literacy learners as entrepreneurs (owners of private businesses), superiors (managers of businesses or organizations), regulars (employed and skilled and semi-skilled workers), suppliants (recipients of public assistance), and underclass (consistently engaged in anti-social acts such as crime and illicit drug use). Thus, not only are there a variety of reasons for enrollment, but also there is a.variety of backgrounds and lifestyles from which learners come. Deterrents to participation have also been explored as a motivational factor. Hayes (1988), Beder (1990), and Thomas (1990) describe low self-confidence, social disapproval, situational barriers, negative attitudes, and low perception of priority as deterrents to participation and as contributors to attrition. 29 In their 1990 study of 323 learners in Iowa, collected through face-to-face structured interviews, Beder and Valentine discovered a number of reasons for enrollment in Adult Basic Education programs. The reasons for enrollment in ABE included educational advancement, self-improvement, literacy development, community and church involvement, economic need, family responsibility, diversion, job advancement, launching (starting a career), and the urging of others. As a complement to the Client Survey Project, that surveyed first year post-secondary students in British Columbia, the BC Ministry of Advanced Education Training and Technology (1993) conducted a survey of Adult Basic Education and English as A Second Language students to determine their unique needs and concerns. Five hundred forty-three students from three colleges-Selkirk, Vancouver Community, and Camosun responded, and 214 of the respondents were ABE students. The questionnaires were administered by the instructors of each class and were completed in class. The ABE learners described preparing for a job or career, having more life choices, skills upgrading, getting a general education, and acquisition of a Grade 12 diploma as reasons for enrollment in ABE programs. This illustrates the diversity of motivational factors that may bring learners to ABE programs. Stalker (1993) explored the notion of externally applied motivation as a deterrent to success and participation. She conducted semistructured interviews with 20 workers who had attained a high school diploma or less to explore their conceptions about participation in adult education activities on a voluntary basis. Two basic conceptions were revealed-opportunities for participation were either other-determined or self-determined. Her conclusion was that adult learners' self -determination does not occur within a void. Individual effort is effective only in relation to others who control opportunities. In other words, self-determination is delimited by the extent to which individuals accept others' determination of their participation. In a qualitative study by Boissort, Cunningham, and Gardner (1994) on the impact of ABE instruction on participants' lives, it was discovered that a number of 30 needs of ABE learners were being met. Forty-five self selected students and 15 instructors in three locations in BC were chosen - one urban, one metropolitan, and one rural. The data was collected through one to three hour interviews. The researchers discovered that the "essence" of the ABE experience was that ABE learners are "learning to learn". The results showed that the impact of acquiring reading, writing, and numeracy skills increased self-confidence, the ability to separate from past negative influences, the ability to.reach out beyond oneself, independence and participation in the world, awareness of self and others, the possibility of choices, and risk-taking and successful life-style changes. It can be seen from this study that the needs of ABE students go far beyond the simple acquisition of reading, writing, and numeracy skills. Literacy Practices In order to produce some potential guidelines for instruction, Boraks and Schumaker (1981) conducted a study for the purpose of describing the factors influencing the acquisition, facilitating, and inhibition of reading strategies for adult beginning readers. They used an adapted form of the Goodman and Burke taxonomy of oral reading miscues as the initial framework, and described the adult beginning reader's reading behaviour. They made a detailed analysis of the reading behaviour and learning to read behaviour of seven adult beginning readers, and gave a general description of the reading behaviour of seven more adult beginning readers in a learning center. These provided a basis for identifying reading behaviors associated with success and failure. They found that those adult beginning readers, who thought of reading as discovering meaning and who were aware of it when they were not gaining meaning, and had been exposed to syllabication and could manipulate vowels and syllables, tended to make progress. In addition, the adult beginning readers, whose teachers considered how they wanted to learn as well as what they .learned, 31 learned more. The way in which the teacher conducted a lesson also had significance. When the teacher preceded reading with a discussion of concepts in the text, students tended to read for meaning. The researchers suggest that these factors, namely instructional method, adult learners' learning needs, and concept discussion be considered in designing methods to teach reading to adults. In their 1984 study, Heisel and Larson proposed to show that previous studies attempting to assess literacy behaviour had failed to account for the variance in literacy demands of differing social contexts. They studied the literacy behaviour of 132 elderly blacks in a large city environment. The structured interviews were conducted by middle-aged black male and female interviewers, and were part of a three year longitudinal study that examined the mental health, life condition, and welfare of a black, elderly, urban population. Surprisingly, the results showed that these subjects clearly had functional literacy skills, and that much of the learning that the subjects reported had taken place outside of the formal school environment, and had been oriented toward meeting the requirements of their daily lives, including the demands of the workplace. Therefore, literacy instruction must be pragmatic and seen as relevant to the learners' needs. In a 1988 case study, Forester described Laura, a 26-year old who was learning to read in a college learning center. She described Laura's experiences as proceeding along a literacy continuum, with Laura constantly focussing on meaning, and expressing no concern for accuracy. Laura was also encouraged to write using invented spelling which seemed to develop her knowledge of letters and sounds and helped her to gain meaning from her reading. It is interesting that Forester, as a result of this case study with only one learner, also stresses the need for the adult reader to make meaning of what they are reading. Smith and Dalheim (1990) conducted in-depth case studies of 20 reading disabled adults in Project READ. The two-fold purpose of Project READ was to improve the reading levels of diagnosed learning disabled adults and to investigate 32 which of the three approaches to reading instruction was most effective for reading disabled adults. Twenty adults, ranging in age from young to retired, participated in the two year program. They met one hour per day, four days per week. Students were carefully assessed and psychologically profiled before the project and after the project. The three instructional approaches used were: (a) reading from scratch -- a structured, sequential, synthetic phonics program, (b) reading from scratch with a tape recorder, and (c) a language experience approach. The study found that the direct sequential format is more effective for learning disabled readers than is teaching in which the inclusion of phonics instruction as well as the method of presentation are at the discretion of the teacher. Norton and Falk (1992) conducted two Australian studies on the literacy requirements of adults. The first was a quantitative study of 102 asthma patients conducted by Norton, using cloze tests, questions after silent reading, and questions after miscue analysis of oral reading of asthma pamphlets. She concluded that adults did not gain important information from public documents, and that there needed to be further research on adults' literacy difficulties that incorporated the readers' purpose for reading and the readers' success in achieving that purpose. In another 1992 study, cited in Norton and Falk (1992), Falk reported her findings from a qualitative perspective. She conducted a study of the social construction of literacy needs in adult literacy learners with 13 subjects. She reported on Peter, a 20-year old who identified himself as an illiterate. He described his experiences in "becoming literate" and suggested that for him literacy began with speech patterns that were then translated into reading and writing. For him, becoming literate was a great deal more than just learning some basic skills. Falk concludes that observation, discussion, and reflection are critical tools in removing the barriers to the understanding of text. New learning must be integrated with the learner's life after the act of learning has occurred and be guaranteed continued use. 33 Fingeret, Tom, Dyer, Morley, Dawson, Harper, Lee, McCue, and Niks (1994) in their study of two adult programs -- one a workplace literacy program, and the other an adult learning center program emphasized the importance of learner centered instruction in literacy, education. The researchers undertook two two year ethnographic studies in order to evaluate the Vancouver Municipal Workplace Language Program in Vancouver, BC and the Invergarry Adult Learning Center in Surrey, BC. The report focused on the characteristics of the programs and their organizations, the important , characteristics of the instruction, and the major impacts of participation in each program. The programs were both based on a learner centered philosophy. They ; valued learners' prior experience, language background, and culture. Students were the source of the curriculum and instruction was designed to build on strengths, and work toward learners' goals. The staff believed that the student, rather than the teacher was central to the learning process, the basic philosophy of the programs was that literacy is an ongoing process, rather than remediation. Seventy interviews were conducted-34 with students, 28 with staff, eight with students who had left the program, and 12 with others (who were not defined). As well, there were participant observations, phone interviews, and document collection. The results showed that as a result of participation in these programs, many adults developed improved literacy and language skills and practices, and developed a larger perspective on education and learning to enhance their ability to take responsibility for initiating and enhancing their own learning. There are a variety of approaches to adult literacy instruction, reflecting the many philosophies of reading instruction. Nevertheless, in view of the adult population and the variety of needs presented by such a population, it is important that literacy instruction be learner centered, well researched, and meeting the specific needs of the^  learners. 34 Summary The literature review describes a variety of studies that have been undertaken with adult learners, and in particular Adult Basic Education and adult literacy learners. However, the literature review records the following limitations to research on literacy learners: 1. Most of the studies on personal beliefs about reading and writing are large scale studies, and do not look at a diversity of language background. 2. There are several case studies of literacy learners-these look at family influences, effects on the family when a member acquires literacy skills and emotional and psychological aspects of learning to read. However, there are no comparative case studies, nor are there any studies that investigate an individual's life story and the unfolding of the literacy acquisition process for the learner. 3. There are a number of survey studies that have examined adult learners and their attitudes toward learning, but none have considered various cultural perceptions nor language backgrounds. 4. Although there have been studies that have examined various instructional approaches, there have not been any that have explored the common literacy acquisition experiences of learners from varied language backgrounds and how this may influence instructional strategies. Therefore, the researcher will do four in-depth case studies of typical ABE literacy learners from varied language and cultural backgrounds. The learners will be asked to tell the story of their acquistion of literacy skills from the time when they first learned to read and write to the present. In addition, the researcher will explore these 35 learners' perceptions of their learning process and use of literacy skills both inside the classroom and outside the classroom. The purpose of the study will be to explore the commonality of these experiences and perceptions, and how these may provide a model or theories that may address literacy classroom instructional strategies. 36 Chapter 3 METHODOLOGY The researcher examined the diversity of four learners, from different language and cultural backgrounds, in an Adult Basic Education literacy classroom. They were viewed from the perspective of language background, that is their initial language acquisition and their ongoing English language acquisition. The approach chosen was a phenomenological and historical multiple case study of a representative group of learners to discover what literacy acquisition has been and is like for each of the members of a chosen group. Through this exploration, common experiences were identified to provide a model that may begin to help to inform classroom literacy instruction. A life time-line, a semistructured interview and a confirmation interview were chosen to achieve the research goals. This chapter discusses the methodology used in instrument development, sample selection, data collection, interview administration, and result interpretation. Instrument Development The study was conducted in three phases. The first two stages involved the development of the instrument. The experiences of the entire daytime Adult Basic Education literacy class on the Richmond campus of Kwantlen University College were used to compose the initial questions. In early November 1995, as part of the weekly group meetings, students were introduced to the notion of looking at their life to better understand where they are now in their literacy acquisition, and were asked to develop an annal (a life time-line). Responses were voluntary. Twenty-six of the 32 members of the class agreed to participate. To ensure reliability of the responses, the same key statements were presented to all participants (see Appendix A). From the annals, a 37 number of key open-ended questions were created for the actual study (see Appendix B). To ensure the validity of these questions, they were then distributed to 30 experts in the literacy field. The members of the Provincial Fundamental Articulation Committee, which represented literacy instructors from each of the publicly funded colleges in the province, and the literacy coordinator from the Ministry of Education Skills and Training (n=15) were polled in mid November 1995. The questions were also distributed to all the ABE English instructors at Kwantlen University College (n=14) in December 1995. They were told that the purpose of the study was to explore the experiences of adult literacy learners from a variety of language backgrounds in learning to read and write from their first introduction to literacy to the present. These educators were asked to prioritize the pool of questions, to make suggestions on wording, and to add any questions or comments that they felt were necessary. Twenty responses were received. The summary of expert responses to the language background questions can be found in Tables 1 and 2, and the summary of expert responses to the reading experience questions can be found in Tables 3 and 4, and the expert responses to the school experience questions can be found in Tables 5 and 6. Eighteen additional questions were suggested for language background, 35 additional questions were suggested for reading background, and 20 additional questions were suggested for school experiences. These suggestions can be found in Appendix C. 38 Table 1 - Summary of Expert Prioritization of Language Background Questions (n=20) Priority 1 2 3 4 5 6 Question # 1. 11 2 < 2 3 2 2. 5 10 1 2 2 3. 3 10 5 2 4. 2 3 11 3 1 5. 1 4 15 6. 3 1 1 15 Table 2 - Summary of Expert Suggestions Regarding Language Background Questions (n=18) Question # Reword Omit Action 1. 1 Reworded 2. 4 Reworded 3. 3 Reworded 4. 2 Reworded 5. 6 Reworded 6. 2 Reworded Table 3 - Summary of Expert Prioritization of Reading Experience Questions (n=20) Priority 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Question # 1. 13 1 3 1 1 1 2. 12 1 2 1 2 1 1 3. 1 12 2 1 2 2 4. 3 2 1 12 1 1 5 2 3 1 1 12 1 .6. 3 3 13 1 7 2 2 16 8 1 1 1 1 16 9 1 1 2 16 39 Table 4 - Summary of Expert Suggestions Regarding Reading Experience Questions (n=14) Question # Reword Omit Action 1 5 Reworded 2 No change 3 1 , Reworded 4 3 Reworded 5 No change 6 4 Reworded 7 No change 8 1 Reworded 9 No change Table 5 - Summary of Expert Prioritization of School Experience Questions (n=20) Priority 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Question # 1. 18 1 1 2. 1 18 '1 3. 1 16 1 1 4. 2 18 5. 1 1 17 1 6. 1 1 17 1 7. 1 1 1 17 1 8. 1 1 17 1 9. 1 1 1 17 Table 6 - Summary of Expert Suggestions Regarding School Experience Questions (n=15) Question # Reword Omit Action 1. 4 Reworded 2. 2 Reworded ' 3. 3 Reworded 4. 4 Reworded 5. 1 Reworded 6. 1 Reworded 7. No change 8. 1 Reworded 9. 3 Reworded 40 To further validate the study and to further refine the questions, a pilot study was conducted with four learners (with the same language characteristics as the study participants). These were (a) Canadian born native speaker, (b) English as a Second or Additional Language speaker (Cantonese & Mandarin), (c) immigrant from a country where English is the official language, but it is nonstandard (Fiji), and (d) Canadian born where a heritage language is spoken in the home (Hindi). These learners were selected from the student population of the fundamental English evening class at Richmond campus of Kwantlen University College. The researcher spent four weeks working in the class as a volunteer to familiarize herself with the students, and to make them feel comfortable with her. An annal (time-line) was also prepared by each member of the evening class. Once the participants had given their consent, the pilot study interviews were conducted on four different evenings during February and March 1996, using the expanded and refined list; Field notes were made and examined. As a result, the questions were refined further. Some questions were discarded, and others were reworded. The results can be found in Tables 7, 8, and 9. Table 7 - Changes to Language Background Questions Generated by Expert Survey and Pilot Study Question # Change 1 Reworded 2 Added - question re childhood language 3 ' . Same as #2 in original 4 Added - question re speaking - Likert scale 1 5 Added - question re reading - Likert scale 6 Added - question re understanding - Likert scale 7 Added - question re writing - Likert scale 8 Added - question re reading & writing difficulties 41 Table 8 - Changes to Reading Experience Questions Generated by Expert Survey and Pilot Study Question # Changes 1 Reworded - (a-d) added 2 Added - Question re stories being told 3 Added - tell me more about both being read to and being told stories 4 Added - frequency of reading 5 No change 6 #4 in original 7 Added - question re reading 8 Added - question about method of reading instruction in school 9 Added - reading problems and coping 10 Added - self perception as reader at various stages - Likert scale 11 Added - reasons for self-perceptions 12 # 8 in original - personal perceptions of reading 13 Added - perceptions of good readers - knowledge of decoding, word meaning, main idea 14 Added - questions re book acquisition 15 Added - questions re discussion of book(s) 16 Added - preference of reading over TV 17 Added - number of pages in book - deterrent to reading 18 Added - number of books in home 19 Added - how a book is chosen 20 Added - place of books in life. 21 Added - relationship of reading ability to work Table 9 - Changes to School Experience Questions Generated by Expert Survey and Pilot Questions Question # Changes Expanded (for each school) - name, location with description, # of rooms, grades, teachers, students, student demographics, special friends (tell about). 2 Same 3 Added - grade completed 4 Added - special help 5 # 3 in original - reason for leaving school 6 Added - school leaving age 7 # 4 in original 8 Added - reason for answer 9 Added - particular schools liked - reasons 10 Added - subjects liked - reasons - what was it about the subject that made respondent feel that way. 42 11 Added - subjects disliked (see #10) 12 #7 and #8 in original 13 Added - question about parental involvement 14 Added - question about school discipline 15 Added - fear of consequences - positive motivation 16 Added - favorite teacher and reasons 17 Added - least favorite teacher and reasons 18 Added - who helped most in school and what made person helpful (not necessarily a teacher) 19 Added - social aspects of school 20 Added - school as preparation for life 21 Added - hypothetical change in school experience 22 Expanded # 9 - what helps respondent to learn best in and out of school 23 Added - what works best when learning in terms of: environment, learning materials, organization of textbooks, organization of manuals, organization of instructions, learning style, relationships with supervisors and peers 24 Added - what works best when learning to read, listen, write, view, read. 25 Added - what works best when learning: (a) things said, (b) by writing things down, (c) by reading information, (d) by saying information aloud, (e) by doing something 26 Added - (a) reason for return to school, (b) difference from previous experience, (c) how experience differs, (d) likes about ABE, (e) dislikes about ABE. As a result of the responses of the first respondent in the pilot study, it was decided to add an additional section entitled, "Personal Data Sheet". Questions of a general nature were asked such as age, country or province of origin, years in school, general questions on language background and reading background, and reading preferences. This gave the researcher a better understanding of their general background and introduced the participants to the types of questions that would be asked. It also seemed to put the participants at ease. The final interview questions can be found in Appendix D. Sample Selection The subjects were selected from the student population of the daytime ABE fundamental level English class on the Richmond campus of Kwantlen University 43 College. All participants in the class were reading at below a Grade 10.0 equivalency level. This was a 32 member class (15 full-time equivalency) consisting of part-time (half or third time) and full time students. The program consisted of twenty-four hours per week full time. The nature of the program is that it is self-paced. There is continuous entry, permittting new students to enter as seats become available. Students may attend for as few as four months or as much as four or five years, depending on their specific needs. The subjects in this study were selected using the following criteria: (a) a representative of one of the four identified language backgrounds-Canadian born native speaker, English as an additional or second language speaker, immigrant from a country where the official language is English (albeit nonstandard English), and Canadian born with a heritage language, other than English, spoken in the home; (b) in the program for more than three months; (c) age 20 to 40; (d) Grade 12 education or less. Participant characteristics were drawn from registration information and the time line responses. Three women and one man were selected. Consent forms were sent to the subjects' homes, and they were asked to return the consent forms to a counselor at the Richmond campus. This was to ensure distance from the subjects, so that there was no perception of coercion on the part of the researcher. One prospective subject chose not to be part of the study, so another subject was chosen. Data Collection The data was collected during an open ended interview with each of the participants at a mutually convenient time. Two interviews were conducted on a Friday morning and two interviews were conducted on a Monday afternoon. Three interviews were conducted in the office just off the classroom and the fourth was conducted in a lounge just off the library. This was done to ensure an uninterrupted interview, and a familiar location. 44 The interviews were audio-taped and later transcribed word for word by the researcher. These were verified by checking the accuracy of transcription against the original audio-tape. The researcher then recorded the interviews in a narrative form. The participants were asked to verify the accuracy of the narrative in a subsequent verification interview. Interview Administration The interviews were conducted one on one at a mutually convenient time. The first two interviews were administered on a Friday morning (Friday is a day for individual assessments, department meetings, and professional and curriculum development) in the office adjacent to the classroom. The third was administered on Monday afternoon in the same office, after the other students had left. The fourth was administered on Friday morning in a lounge, just off the foyer of the library. This location was chosen, as the classroom was being used for a conference. These locations and times were chosen to ensure that there would be no interruption from other students, staff, or faculty. The initial interviews were audio taped, and were later transcribed. The subsequent confirmation interviews were administered during July 1996, after classes had ended for the term, and the classroom was vacant. Field notes were made and further clarifications were confirmed by telephone. Result Interpretation The model used for data collection was that of narrative inquiry as suggested by Clandenin and Connelly (1995) and the model used for data analysis was that suggested by Merriam (1988). Clandenin and Connelly (1990) state that, "humans are story telling organisms who, individually and socially, lead storied lives (p. 2)." Their view is that education is the construction and reconstruction of personal and social stories. The 45 teachers and learners are storytellers and characters in one another's lived experience. The learner is given a voice to express his or her experiences and to understand the experience in relation to himself or herself. Clandenin and Connelly point out that it is important to look at the narrative as whole, and to write in such a way as to invite the reader to read and live vicariously the experiences of others. The function of the narrative is to understand an actual life or community as lived. The components of a narrative include scene -- the place where the story has occurred, and where the characters have lived out their stories and where cultural and social contexts are an important component, and plot -- the explanatory structure for the narrative, that is the past, the present, or the future oriented parts of the narrative. Merriam suggests that the product of a case study or narrative inquiry as it has been called, is shaped by the data that are collected and the analysis that accompanies the entire process. The steps suggested and which the researcher followed are as follows: (1) Review of the research proposal to remind the researcher of the audience for which the research was intended and to determine the level of analysis required in the final report. (2) Conduct repeated readings of the raw data (the interview transcription), making notes, comments, observations, queries in the margin -- essentially holding a conversation with the data to develop a narrative account of the findings. (3) Identify units of information -- phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. It was suggested that these must be heuristic (reveal information relevant to the study and stimulate readers to think beyond the particular bit of information), and the smallest piece of information about something that must be able to stand by itself. 46 (4) Code the units of information and develop categories, typologies, or themes, that involve recurring regularities in the data. Guidelines that were followed in developing categories included frequency of mention, intended audience, uniqueness, and areas of inquiry not otherwise recognized. (5) Once the sets of categories are developed, these are fleshed out and made more robust by searching through the data again for more and better units of relevant information. (6) Finally, the formation of theories that explained the phenomona and how they are related are completed. Then, these theories can be analyzed to fit the practice of and application to literacy instructional practice. The analysis will include a literature review. 47 Chapter 4 THE LIFE STORIES OF FOUR LITERACY LEARNERS FROM VARIOUS LANGUAGE BACKGROUNDS These stories are based on the verified transcripts of interviews conducted by the researcher during March, April and May of 1996 on the Richmond Campus of Kwantlen University College. Some of the background information was taken from student files with subject permission. These stories were verified by the subjects in interviews conducted in July 1996 at the same location. The stories represent the four types of literacy learners identified in Chapter 1. These include: (a) a native speaker who is Candian born and speaks only English, (b) an immigrant who comes from a country where English is the official language, but the language spoken is non-standard English, (c) a learner who has English as a second or additional language (EASL), and (d) a learner whose initial language acquisition was in a language other than English and who may or may not be bilingual in that language and English. Chuck's Story Chuck represents the literacy learner who is Canadian born and is a native speaker of English. Chuck was in the program for two and a half years and planned to return the following year. He was employed at a Richmond cranberry farm as a fabricator and handyman, and lived on the farm site with his girl friend. He worked long hours for minimum wage, and initially came to class full-time--24 hours per week. At the time of the study, he came to class, half-time--12 hours per week-one day a week and two evenings a week. He came to the program, with the support of his employer, to improve his reading and writing skills. 48 Early Childhood Chuck was 37 years of age at the time of the study. He was born in Richmond, BC. He has three siblings, two older sisters and one younger sister. He grew up in an English speaking home, and English was the only language spoken. His male cousin, who is six months older, and his aunt lived down the street from his family with his grandparents, so he was always together with his cousin and younger sister. His dad worked at Eburne Sawmills, as did his grandfather. He spent quite a bit of time with his male cousin during his younger years. As Chuck related, he was tongue-tied, and "Since no one could make sense of him (Chuck), and his cousin spoke so fast that they couldn't make sense of him either, they became the best of friends and had their own method of communication." Elementary School Chuck did not attend kindergarten, as kindergarten was not part of the public school system then. Chuck stated that it was very difficult for him learning to read at first, because of his "dyslexic". He reported that he had special help, tutors, and speech therapy. He started school at age seven. "It was because of my birthday, they say." He said, "I went to grade one normally and then they probably figured that I had a reading disability and then they got tutors there for probably five to six years-through my elementaries and almost up to junior high." Chuck first attended a small elementary school consisting of about six classrooms. He recalled that that his first teacher's name was Mrs. F. and that there were seven grades in the school. From that school he went to two other elementary schools, which were not right in his neighborhood, but were still within walking or bussing distance. He alternated between the two schools because he was in special classes with Mrs. J., who was the special education teacher and the students went to 49 different schools with her, rather than her remaining in one school. The special classes were ungraded according to Chuck. He stated, "Everyone worked on their own." The special education classes were held in a separate classroom with Mrs. J This was throughout Chuck's elementary school years. Chuck spoke of Mrs. J., as being his favorite teacher. Mrs. J. was probably one of, one of the good ones. At that time she was an elderly lady and she was always there to give you your support. She never screamed and yelled at you; she was always there to help ya. Chuck particularly remembered a girl in his special classes. He considered her a brain. "She was a brain, actually, I don't know why she was in there. Well, I consider her a brain, she always had the answers you know." , In spite of his learning difficulties, Chuck enjoyed elementary school. As he puts it, "It was a-a-a elementary was a new (hmm) how would you put it, a new eye opener for me...once I got what was going on." He reports that he got along well with everybody at school, and he and his cousin were actually close friends. He describes his fellow classmates as ordinary kids. "There's a few friends around that I know, that I still see the odd time. Most of the guys are rough and tough. I would say, you know, they were just boys." He described the discipline in his elementary school as fair. He stated: Well, that was back when they used to have the strap. They warned you over the strap there. We were bad one year in elementary, and the principal came up and showed us the strap, but he never gave it to us. That was a fear. 50 Chuck reported that his parents were actively involved in his elementary education, in that his mother would help him at home with homework and reading assignments and that his "mom and dad would come down and talk to the tutors. In whatever way they could, they would help out. My dad worked a lot, but my parents were always around to help." He also reported that he was the only one who had trouble in school -- "all my sisters, no problem, all straight A's almost. I was just the bad apple." Chuck's mom was probably the most helpful. "She just basically helped me on book- reports and stuff like that -- would read it to me or would write it down for me, so I could copy it. She became my pencil." Secondary School In Grade 8, Chuck went to a Richmond junior secondary school. He spent grades 8 to 10 there, and then in grades 11 and 12 went to a Richmond senior secondary school. He was in regular classes throughout his high school years. As much as he enjoyed his elementary years, he said that he "really enjoyed" his junior high years. He stated: v You're up to your junior years, so you've only got a few years left, so you make the best of it. You're learning new stuff everyday too. You get some of the shop, in junior high, you start into most of the shop courses, and that is what I liked. He particularly enjoyed mechanics and drafting in senior high -- "I would skip out of all the rest of the classes, and basically come to mechanics, if I had to. I liked drafting too. Drafting class was good." However, Chuck didn't like everything. He disliked English because of "my, as you call it, my dyslexic; Icouldn't read the words." He reported that he had a fear of 51 reading to somebody. "That's what I always didn't like." He said that he was always the kid in the back of the room, hoping that no one would notice him. Socially, Chuck really bloomed in junior high. He met his first girl friend, "actually the first one that made my heart go pump, pump, pump. Yeah, sexual awakening." Again, Chuck reported that he got along with everyone. He said that the teachers were good and so were the students. As he spoke about his teachers through the years, he said, "Some of the teachers through the years, there, you could sit down and talk to them. On one hand, they would teach you, and on the other hand they would counsel you." Not all high school teachers, however, provided Chuck with a positive experience. When asked about his least favorite teacher, he related his experiences with an electronics teacher. Actually, it would probably be Mr. N. Well, he was the electronics or electrical teacher in junior high and uhh, he...didn't explain. He explained stuff to you, but he wanted more. He pushed stuff on to you basically. He didn't really explain it to to you, he showed you once and that was it, you know. These watts and kilowatts and stuff like that. I never did catch on to that kind of stuff, actually. Chuck described the discipline in junior high and high school as relaxed. He related, "It's more relaxed. You had to (uhh) you know almost an adult, you go on your own to junior high and senior high." Chuck left high school at the age of almost 21. I was almost 21 when I left senior secondary -- late bloomer. I got up to Grade 12. Actually I was 3 years in senior secondary. They wouldn't pass me because of my English-my Grade 11 and 12 English. They 52 knew I wouldn't pass Grade 12 again, so I just basically said, 'Okay.' I. went out and worked on the farm. I knew where I was going. When Chuck was asked what he would do differently if he could redo his school experience, he replied, "I don't really know about that one. I had a good childhood and good schooling -- just my reading, that's about it." Adult Basic Education Chuck enjoys college very much. He said, I'm basically learning how to read now, and I've been out of school for so long, it's enjoyable now. It's my-how would you put that now? It's my --not my goal really, but-I'm the only one has to push myself. Because when you are back in school, everyone kept pushing you, but now it's up to you. Chuck came back to school because: Basically because I wanted to learn how to read. My nieces and nephews, and kids always wanted me to read to them, so I always made up something different to try to hide my reading and I wanted to learn, you know. When asked how this experience differed from his previous school experience, Chuck replied, "More hands on here. Well, I'm older now; I want to learn now. It's just a family attitude around here, almost. Nobody teases you. Nobody laughs at you, you know. You feel very at home, basically, actually." 53 What Chuck likes most about ABE is that "It's one big family here-basically. everybody's out to help everybody else." The only thing that Chuck disliked about ABE was "Maybe, just some of the students. You know, you get whoever talking to you, or irritating you, or whatever, but you know, you get that in every crowd." Early Reading Experiences Chuck's mother was the one who read in,the home when he was a child. He related that she read lots of pocketbooks and novels. Chuck's mother didn't read too many stories to him when he was an elementary school age child. She mostly read homework or books for book reports to help him. He says that there was not a regular routine of sitting down every night. His mother would only help him by reading to him when he had an assignment or book report to do. He did not remember being read to as a preschooler. However, he did remember stories that his grandparents told him about life as they grew up -- about Grouse Mountain, and how they used to have to hike up there and ski. One story that was particularly vivid in his memory was the one about how his grandfather walked from North Vancouver, almost down to Eburne Sawmills in South Vancouver. Although, Chuck had difficulty with reading, he did recall a series of books that his teacher gave him in elementary school. He said, There's some books back in, I think, it was elementary school. The teacher got me into a series of diving books actually. They were stories. I think about four or five books, a series about people diving, not just diving, but adventure books, actually." 54 Chuck did say that he went to the library every week with his mother as a child. " 'cause she likes to read, or by myself, once in a blue moon." However, it doesn't seem that they chose any books for Chuck to read, or to be read by someone else, only books for school assignments. Reading Habits s When asked about the types of books that he enjoys reading, Chuck reported, "I like adventure books, if I have time to read 'em. Mysteries are nice." Chuck does not have any particular favorite author. He enjoys reading car magazines and off road magazines when "he gets a chance." He reads manuals at work. He stated, "A wide selection of books at work are manuals -- John Deere farm tractor manuals, fork lift manuals, truck manuals, and heavy truck manuals." He said that he reads the Province newspaper and enjoys the comic sections, horoscopes, the odd theater and movie section, and for something to do, he looks through the classifieds. He doesn't usually go to the library. However, he was reading a story about the Titanic and wanted more information. So, he and his instructor went to the library at the college and found a high interest, low vocabulary book on the Titanic, and he verified a show that he had seen on television with the facts in the article and in the book. On occasion, Chuck visits bookstores like Coles. However, as he said, "the almighty buck says first," so, he didn't purchase any books. He told about some books that he saw in the Costco book section. "It was a whole series on dogs and dog's health." He said that he chooses books by reading a few pages or following the recommendation of someone else. When asked about the number of books on his shelves at home, he reported that he probably had half a dozen, maybe a dozen. Most of the books that he does have, have been given to him by friends. When asked whether he would ever rather read than watch T.V., he said that he sometimes would rather read because "there's not much on T.V. these days." 55 Reflections on Reading, Writing, and Language Skills English, is, of course Chuck's first and only language. On a Likert scale of 1 to 5, he said that he "speaks English well (four)". He reads English at a poor to moderate level (between two and three), "but getting up there with somebody's help." He understands English well (four). His writing of English is perceived to be at the same level as his reading, (between two and three). He is very comfortable with English (five). He doesn't feel that he has any reading or writing difficulties in English due to lack of education. As a child, Chuck rated his reading on a Likert scale of 1 to 5 as between one and two. When asked about this, he replied, Oh, I always had problems reading. I don't really know, it's just, uh, I knew I had a problem. When I was a kid and because I was tongue tied when I was younger and that, I didn't speak right. I would always keep my mouth shut around kids, and that's so they wouldn't make fun of me basically. In discussing how he coped with reading problems in school, Chuck said, "Basically words I couldn't read I would skip over, get the basic idea, uhh, get friends...ask them. I'd get the basic idea of the stories, not the full idea." As an. adolescent, Chuck's self-perceived reading level was also between one and two on the Likert scale. My junior years. Teachers, they would, my teachers, they knew that I had a . reading problem, so they would just basically push me through. Basically English through. Do some classroom work and that, read out loud, but if I didn't have to, I wouldn't. 56 As an adult, Chuck said that his reading skills now are at "a level three, almost a level four (average to good)." When asked his reason for saying that, Chuck stated, "Well, through your help and Margot's help and Susan's help there, it...Through the adult education basic--ABE, it's taught me. It's funny because it's like relearning over again actually, and I really enjoy it very much now." Perceptions of the Reading, Writing, and Learning Process Chuck's idea of the process followed by a good reader was that "A good reader probably gets all the information off the text. Deciphers everything, probably, if they had to. Deciphers word for word if they have to." He suggested that a good reader breaks an individual word down by phonics, and determines meaning by "using the dictionary if he had to or just through years of learning probably." When asked about how a good reader figures out the writer's story, message or procedure, he said this, "Probably through the writer's style of what he's trying to relay across the message-basic." When asked about procedures he said, "There's diagrams in the shop manuals to follow and steps in writing to go along with that." Chuck thought that books can teach us something about life, other than textbooks. "Yes, I think I do think that books can teach us something about life. You get the Time-Life books and they have interesting stories and factual stuff too." Chuck felt that his reading and writing ability could change the kind of work that he could get. Right now I'm on a farm, so I don't get that much reading and writing. A few phone messages but...if I had better reading and writing skills and that, I could find a better job, I figure, 'cause I wouldn't be so afraid to show my disability. I'm caught in a-you know. I would like a better job, but no, I wouldn't want to show my reading skills off. Be CEO one day. 57 Chuck perceived that the thing that has helped him most in learning at school now was "Phonics. Probably the phonics is the best thing that helps me." The reading lab at Kwantlen consists of auditory tutorials, oral reading, silent reading, group discussion, and cooperative learning activities. In the phonics segment, an intensive phonics approach is utilized—that is auditory tutorials recorded, in-house, on high quality recording equipment. The materials work on auditory discrimination of short vowel sounds, blending of sounds, syllabication, stress and intonation. This is reinforced by oral reading materials, read with a tutor or instructor, as well as a computer program. Both of these employ the same instructional approach as the audio-tutorials. When asked about learning outside of school, Chuck said, "Basically hands on. For example, tearing a motor down; you could tear it down yourself or watch somebody else. What works best is 50-50, you know, hands on and watching and asking, then doing." Chuck described how he would go about doing a new project at work. If I had a pruner head. I never built one before. It's used for cutting cranberry vines. Basically, I know what it does and how it works-lots of measurements, lots of study of it. You know, if one part doesn't-if you can't figure out one part, you go back and look at the machine. If you have the machine. Or you ask someone or...(umm). That's basically about it, you know, learning trial and error basically. Chuck said that he likes to learn by listening - "listening to what people have to say." He prefers a "hands on" approach with learning materials. His preference in textbook organization is "lots of pictures, because you got the diagram. The diagram shows a certain way a gear has to go on, or it tells you a certain way." He also likes a 58 manual that is visually organized as well. "Lots of diagrams. There's almost a step or alphabetic step way of doing manuals and that." When Chuck was asked about the organization of instructions, either verbal or written, he said, The way instructions come across to me. If I have any questions, I like to ask again before you make your mistakes, but sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. Step by step - good verbal communications. It doesn't matter if it's the whole picture or step by step. In my years on the farm, lots of jobs going on at once. As Chuck talked about his learning style, he reiterated that he liked "hands on", Sometimes you can tell me, but, better hands on and show me, because, the odd time, I don't get the proper communication if you tell me a certain way....Sometimes when someone is saying something and I have to learn it, that's hard 'cause you don't always really get it. If he communicates the problem to the point and explains everything, yes. But just basically saying, 'go do this', I have trouble sometimes. Chuck said that with regard to peer relationships and learning, he usually gets along with everyone, "You like the person or you don't like the person, basically. If you don't like the person, it's sometimes harder to learn." In discussing specific components of language learning, Chuck made the following statements. About reading he said, "Learning to read is little words -breaking the big words down into little words. You know, using my phonics - getting help with it, the correct sound with the correct letters." Optimum learning conditions for learning to listen were reported as, "Basically one-on-one--you know-no side noises or distractions." "Watching a video or movie over a couple of times-if it's boring or not, 59 you have to watch it anyways." helped Chuck when he was learning by viewing. The main concern for Chuck, when learning to write, was reported as "spelling the words right." When Chuck is writing information down to learn something himself, he outlines this process, "Just basically writing it down in note form, making sure that I write/print what I say, instead of having it backwards." Reading for information for Chuck meant, "Trying to get the right information out of the text." When saying information aloud to someone else. Chuck expressed the process as follows, "Try to be precise (and how would you say it) and give the right information to the person you're trying to explain it to." When learning to do something, Chuck reiterated, "Basically hands on and getting the right information, umm, that's about it, yeah." Chuck had learning problems all the way through his preparatory school years' (grades one to twelve). He coped by listening and using visual and verbal clues to compensate for his reading problems and used oral communication to compensate for his writing problems. He is a pragmatic person who uses reading primarily as a means whereby he gets the job done. He is very much a "hands on" learner, who seems to have had a good support network throughout his academic career. Angela's Story Angela represents the learner who is an immigrant from a country where English is the official language, but it is not standard English. Angela came to the program four and a half years ago, to improve her reading skills in order to enter training for her chosen profession, hairdressing. Angela left the program this year in order to take Canadian training to learn that trade. She came to Richmond, BC, Canada, 6 years ago, from Jamaica. She lives with her mother, one sister, and two brothers. Both her brothers have been in the ABE program. One went to a trades program at BCIT, and the other is still in the Richmond ABE program in the evening. She worked part-time as a hairdresser and hairdresser assistant, while attending school full-time. She 60 worked on both math and English, so attended English 12 hours per week, and math 12 hours per week. Her reading reached a mastery level (Grade 10.0-GE) and she subsequently enrolled full-time in hairdressing school. Early Childhood Angela was 23 years old at the time of the study. She was born in St. Andrews, a small city on the west coast of Jamaica. She lived with her grandparents, and their fourteen children (aunts, uncles, and her mother), two brothers, who were just a little older, and a sister who was six years older, in an extended family in a "tremendous" house. She said, "Mom was in Canada and Dad was 'somewhere else'," so she was raised by her "grandma and grandpa." Angela, writing about this part of her life, wrote, My aunts and uncles were the ones who took care of me since I was a little child....Sometimes my grandparents were a little too strict. They liked to work and be independent, and loved to go to church every Sunday. They are farming people-kind and honest....My family helped by sending me to school, teaching me how to communicate, and be independent: Language Background She said that English, which she characterized as broken English, was spoken in her home as a child. She reflected that the English that is spoken in her home now is different. It is not quite as broken. She confirmed that English is the language she knows best and is most comfortable with. 61 r Elementary School Angela attended a public elementary school. The school went from grades one to nine, as that is how the Jamaican school system worked. It seemed that it was in a small town. "There were other building around it—like house." Angela said that she lived "far, far away from school. I walked about an hour, an hour and a half walk-Long walk. Far away. No buses and cars." The school consisted of three different <- buildings. "It have grade one, two, three, four in this building and separate grade five to seven, and then grade seven to nine." She related that the building configuration was as follows: Grade one in the same, same building, but grade two, there is a blackboard. Behind, in grade three; there is a blackboard. It's like one open, but with a blackboard. All in a,two,three,four all in a separate room, but sometimes we go different places like outside in the hallway-different from here. One big room-but grades one to four. If you wanted to study you went to different groups, like A, B, C. Different groups would go different places, and the library was a different place. There was a little library-different, not like this one-huge. It was a little library. It was in the office. In grade five to seven, there's a different building, so grade five to seven, they're the same, but different teachers, but sometimes all the standards the same. There were nine teachers, one for each grade. It would seem from Angela's description that grades one to four were in one big room with blackboards acting as dividers between the grades. After grade three, students went to different areas of the building to work in designated study groups. Since she stated that there was only one teacher for each grade, the study groups 62 were unsupervised groups of children learning together, who would wait for the teacher to come or would learn from the "smarter" kids in the class. She reported that there were "40-30-50 up to 60 students in a grade. In grade eight and nine there was sometimes 60-65 students. You can't get to learn--one teacher." Angela estimated that the school population from grade one to nine was "probably a couple thousand." School was in session from "September 'til July-same thing like here." A typical kid in her school wore a uniform. She remembered three special friends and said, At lunch time we all go for lunch. We bought lunch. And they have a cafeteria there, so you could buy lunch. You have to line up in line, though, outside. We would have dumplings and different stuff for lunch. We would play basketball, volleyball, hang out, run around the block, hide and seek, and baseball, and lots of different things. Angela remembered that she liked "science, social studies, (back home I did that), English grammar, reading." She enjoyed all the subjects in school, but she says, "Those subjects give me more knowledge, keep my brains going." Her particular favorite was science, because as she put it, "They tell you about different things, about different things of knowledge, the different things-like the environment." She also enjoyed social studies because you learn "about people". She explained that "Back home the teacher would teach you the nine subjects. I did the nine subjects-social studies, science, geography, reading, math, biology, sports, composition, and grammar." In reflecting upon them, she said, "They were all separated, but I didn't get to learn that much reading, math." As an elementary student, Angela was excited. ( , 63 When you're was different. Well, when you're young, it's more fun, well really not more fun, but you played with kids and that is good. Play games-different games and run around the back and that was kind of fun. Sometimes we play cards, like card packs, or play dandy shandy. It's different-like skipping. We play skipping and run around, hide and seek. Angela reported that her grandparents were not actively involved in her schooling-"Maybe they were probably busy, busy with something else. If I get homework, they would help me out unless they were busy then. Then I could go to school and get help." However, she did say that her older sister helped her with her homework sometimes. My sister helped a lot, because when I got my homework, I don't understand it. She would sit and help me, help me get over it and try and memorize it. She would take the book and say the words or whatever, the vocabulary, and she helped me spell the words. In speaking of the discipline in her school, she characterized it as harsh. Well, back home, the teacher, if you do something wrong, sometime you get whip or, you have lots of books, sometimes, you have to put your tote on top, and hold the books maybe for ten minutes, or you gotta hold your feet (h)up for maybe ten-twenty minutes or you gotta run around the block like 25 times. I would say that's harsh. But, I guess that's the rule. When she was asked if fear of consequences was ever a positive motivation for learning, she replied, "Mm, I didn't always know, because sometimes it doesn't matter. 64 The teacher whipped them, they're not going to do it. So it just..." She was asked about how it affected her. She replied, "For me? Well, I always try to do all my work, so...I'm always late, so I always get whip. That's different." She was asked if she ever did not go. Her reply was, Well, I still showed up, but they still whip you. Gotta be on time. , Sometime they use a whip or strap. Well, you hold out your hand until you get it five times, and until you get home your hands were like raw on your back, on your back, or on the back of your legs. It hurt. She replied in response to a question about whether the beating made her come to school on time, that "It didn't matter, things doesn't change like that." In recounting her experiences in this school, she described her favorite teacher. Back home...a long time ago. Back home. Let's see. Can I put in any name, if I haven't got the name. (She was reassured that she could.) Okay, Mary. I guess you want me to explain, huh. Well, she helped me, like, with my work. If I want something done, I don't (h)understand it, I go (h)up to her, she will help me. She willing to help, and let me understand more, and I could go and to talk to her, and I feel confident in her. Some teachers, they like to put you down. Shame you. She didn't put me down. Her least favorite teacher was also in this school. Back home. I'll just use the name. Okay, uh, okay...Tom..Tom, okay. It seemed that she didn't like me. I don't know why. Because when I was in her class, like the other class that I was in before, I used to be in a 65 higher grade, and then when I was in her class, she put me in a lower grade. And then when I need help, she doesn't really pay me no mind, like she doesn't help me, she doesn't help me, and that's not really a good teacher. She doesn't help me. No help at all. Interschool competitions and sports were also a component of school life in Jamaica. Sometimes, certain days, we have class, say from nine to twelve. Then from 12 to 12:30 we have lunch. And then 12:30 we have, we play games, like teams, like PE after. Yeah, for two hours. It all depends sometimes. We have PE and sometime, practice for other students. They play against other schools. They go and practice on the fields, and the tracks, for running. Track and field, volleyball, that's about all. Sometimes, there competition against another school. So, we go and play them, and sometime, they come and play with us. The boys would play cricket or baseball. When asked how school prepared her for life, Angela replied, "It helped me to understand more in life. It helped me to read. It helped me to write. It gave me more knowledge, freedom, I guess, understanding. It gave me the basics of math too." Angela was asked if she had the opportunity to redo her school experience, what would she do differently. She said, You mean if I had to start all over again. Well, back home the school didn't teach properly. So well, say I was young, and I was back home, I wouldn't have gone to that school in the first place, because the teachers . they don't really care that much. They don't really teach the students the 66 proper way. (She was asked to explain what she meant by 'the proper way') Well, sometime, you wanted to learn something, and they just sit there. They don't help, or when you read and you don't understand the word, they just leave it, or if you read and you misread the word, they just go. They just keep going. So that way, it doesn't, you can't learn. 'Cause you're reading and you don't know what you're doing wrong. So if I was going to be reborn again, I wouldn't be going to that school. There were other schools, but they were a lot further. I go every day, but that school, nobody learned. A lot of students came out of there who couldn't even read. j Trade School At the end of Grade 9, at age 15, Angela went to a hairdressing school in Kingston, Jamaica. This was a common occurrence in Jamaica. Many young people went on to trade school at the end of grade nine. This was a private hairdressing school, and consisted of "one classroom and one station at the back where you could do hair. There was one teacher and one tutor." The class was composed of "25 to 30 women, aged 15 to 25 or 30 or so." This course lasted for eight months. At the end of her training, Angela was certified as a hairdresser in Jamaica. Secondary School After she completed her trade school training, she came to Canada with her brothers and sister to live with their mother. She was sixteen, turning seventeen. She was placed in a secondary school in a preemployment program. There she had "Math, 67 English, cafeteria, and a PE class, and work experience over there." As part of the work experience component of her program, she worked at a hairdressing salon, where she worked for another year after completion of the program. At that time, the secondary school had grades ten to twelve. Some of the features that stood out in Angela's mind, included: the size pf school --"over 1000 students, (it was 'uge)", the number of teachers -"one teacher of math, one for English, and one for PE class, plus I take cafeteria, and you have a different teacher for that." As she reflected, It was different. Because back home you go to school from nine to three in the same class, but here you go different classes. Here different class each hour. As a secondary student, she says it was 'okay'. I got to understand more about learning. Well, when you get older and someone give something to do, you can do it on your own. You get to understand it, the word or the words...and they give you something to read and you understand it better. At the end of school year, Angela graduated and was given a school leaving certificate, indicating that she had completed twelve years of school. "When I came I'm not supposed to go in that class, but they put me in grade 12 when I came. I was turning 18 when I left that school." Vocational Skills Training Angela enrolled in the Vocational Skills Training (VST) program at a lower mainland college in September of 1990. Here, as in her high school program, there was a major work experience component. 68 I worked at a drug store, and a warehouse distribution store.... Let's see where else? The drug store, the warehouse....! didn't like the drug store. No. Mmm, I was doing the shelf. You know, the shelf. Yeah, stocking shelves. At the warehouse, I was bringing stuff to the front and back ordering. Plus, I worked at that learning place. There, I have to do back order, because many they have to mail and I have to do back order...mailing back order. That was a good place. I learned a lot. There was an academic component to the program as well. "Every other Friday, we have class. We mainly read a book and computers. That book, it's mainly computers and vocab. Some vocabulary...some in business. It was okay." When asked about how she felt about this program she said, "It would be the same as high school. In college, it's the same as high school, you still have the teacher explaining things." Adult Basic Education Angela came to Adult Basic Education after completing the VST (Vocational Skills Training) program, as she wanted to upgrade her academic skills—both reading and math. She started the program four years ago. She completed ABED 072 (Math 10 equivalency), and achieved a grade 10.0 equivalency in reading. When asked to compare her ABE experience to her previous school experience, this is what Angela said, Well, the ABE is much better for me. It is much better from the...senior high, because the senior high I didn't like. I didn't like the senior high, because there I know I should have learned more, but when I came, they 69 put me in the preemployment program which I didn't like. Well, at first, I didn't know. I didn't know all about it. Then I did math, English', and cafeteria. And my math and English and...and I did pretty well. So, when I finished, just one year, so I thought I can redo it, and take all courses, but they said I can't, because I was ready to graduate. So the ABE is better for me, and you don't have to do working experience, and the teacher have books and you can read it. If I don't understand, I go up to the teacher and the teacher help. ABE has been a positive experience for Angela. Well, the ABE for me. It's good, because it helped. It helped me as an adult to read more. It make me a much better person in life. Because I came back, and it helped me in my reading and listening and writing. It gave me more knowlege, so it helped me a lot. Angela stated that "ABE is good. No complaint. No, no complaint." Early Reading Experience In her early childhood home, Angela said that her grandma and grandpa, and aunts and uncles read, and she read. The adults read mainly books, magazines, and newspapers. She read mainly books. Where Angela lived as a child, there was no ) library, only a small library at school. Most of the books were purchased in the town or borrowed from others. Angela reported that her aunt and grandma read to her as a child. She doesn't remember specific stories, but remembers being read fairy tales ("I particularly liked fairy tale stories, but I can't particularly tell you what kind of fairy stories."), Bible . 7 0 stories, (for sure--that's important in my family), and animal stories about what animals do. She said that she was read to from "grade two up to three and on." She remembers enjoying stories--"When I was little, it was fun to listen to stories. Yep, bedtime stories." Bedtime stories were read, "I think it was the once-once in awhile--not that often." Angela was also told stories. "Sometimes they tell me stories--bed stories-about their background-where they came from." (She did not elaborate further.) When asked about her first experience of learning to read, Angela related, Well...well....When I went to school in grade one, the teacher sat beside you and pronounced the word and then you follow-after the teacher and teacher let you read and if you don't know the word they will tell you and then they tell you the word and then you tell it to them after or close the book. Memorize the word. I learned to read at home and at school. School was different....Well, at home you were alone-sitting there, so your grandma or grandpa would read to you. At school there is like lots of students, so, teacher, like, everyone get the same stuff, so, you have to do it, yeah. Okay, so we get all the same stuff, so we have to memorize it and then the teacher let you put up your hands if you know the word, and you know if you know it then. When asked about reading in upper grades, Angela said, That take you, the same school I went to. Well, there's upper grade. They have four different groups-A, B, C, D. They put me in different groups for higher level, lower level. It depends on certain grades what 71 group I was in. In some grades I was in A, some B. Mainly I was in B, but then twice I was iii A. That started from Grade 3 on. Reading Habits Angela, now, mainly likes to read "books about the mind--you know, focussing. You know, how to focus-psychology-psychology books and-let's see, I can't think of anything else." She doesn't have any favorite authors, but just goes into the store and if she likes a book she buys it. Angela's favorite magazines include Ebony and Essen. Ebony and Essen are mainly about "hair and its relationship and about different people and personalities and backgrounds. It's mainly about blacks." She reported reading The Enquirer and Revue sometimes. She said that she doesn't read manuals, but that she reads many cookbooks when she is cooking. She felt that she will read her hairdressing book to study how to do hair, when she starts hairdressing school. She reads The Province, The Richmond Review, and The Vancouver Sun (sometimes). However, The Province is her favorite. She says it all depends on what she's interested in that determines the sections of the paper she will read. "I like to know what is going on in the world. If I look at the front, and there's something interesting there in the front, then I'll turn to that page and read that page first, or the sports-the sports page." Angela reported that she goes to the library once in awhile-"actually, I probably don't go that often-maybe once every six months. I don't go that much." She mainly goes to the library if she has to do a report. She goes and looks in a magazine or some books "to see...or if I have to study-lots of homework. Then I would go." 72 Angela usually gets her books from a bookstore. She didn't report borrowing that many books. She says that she likes to buy books. She said that she mainly buys her magazines at a drugstore. She said that the books that people have discussed with her, other than in school, include her hairdressing book and the driver's manual. "I would get someone to go over them with me." The number of pages in a book could deter her from reading. "If you get tired, the number of pages could stop me from reading, but if it is really interesting, then I will continue." Angela estimated that she probably has 80 books on her shelves at home. She reported that the books are in different places, and they're different kinds of books. She said that she often would rather read than watch TV. When it comes to choosing a book, here is what Angela said, Umm. I choose a book by turning the page and find it interesting, then I take it. Sort of go through it a bit. I look at the cover, like read the first part. Yeah, read the introduction. And sometimes the back cover tell you. Reflections on Reading, Writing, and Language Skills Angela has spoken English all her life. However, she characterized the English that she spoke in Jamaica as "broken" English, and the English that she speaks in her home now as "not as broken." When asked to compare her language skills on a Likert scale of 1 to 5, she says that her understanding of Canadian English is at a level three (fair), and that her reading and speaking are at a level four (good). She reports that her writing is at a level five (very good). 73 When asked whether any reading or writing difficulties that she might have are due to lack of education, she felt that "Back home, school was different. Back home, the school~the teacher had about thirty to forty students and it was kind of hard to learn." As a child, Angela rated her reading on a Likert scale of 1 to 5 as two. When asked.about this, she responded, (h)Oh boy, a fair reader. Well, because sometimes as a child, some children they never read to, so they doesn't know nothing about reading or nothing. They don't understand. Well, because I read to when I was a child, I begin to understand certain things. Well, I was a fair reader, because my grandma and grandpa, they would write to me so I get to understand more things...more things in life. Sometime they do that. Especially when you go to buy groceries. • As an adolescent, Angela characterized herself as being at a level three on the Likert scale of 1 to 5--an average reader. She stated, The more older you get, you know, education is more important to you. You put more interest in it. You put more effort in your reading than you did when you were younger. Reading was important when you were young, but it didn't get as much attention as now. So a little different. As an adult, Angela perceived herself as a good reader-four on the Likert scale of 1 to 5. "Well, I'm still in school, and I get to learn more day by day. Reading is learning." 74 Perceptions of the Reading, Writing, and Learning Process Angela's notion of what a good reader does when they read was stated as follows, A good reader understands what she reads, or I should say, what they read. A good reader really understands what they want to, and a good reader understands what they read and it helps to give you more knowledge and understanding. When asked about how a good reader figures out what individual words say, Angela replied, By reading the next word or the next line, sometimes that helps to figure it out. Sometimes, when you are reading and you don't understand the meaning, or whatever. Well, if I read it and I don't understand it, I would go to a dictionary, or I use the context in the book to figure out the meaning. A question about how a good reader figures out the procedure, message, or story that the writer is trying to convey brought this response. By reading it. Go over it. Go over it-over and over until you understand what the message is all about. If it was a recipe, I read it...get my recipe out, then I set it out on the table, and do the stuff, like different things. So, then I do it. 75 Angela said that books can teach us something about life. "Well, a book can teach you how to, how to understand life, and about life, and lots of different things. Books can give you more knowledge, that for sure-knowledge, wisdom, understanding." When asked if she felt that her reading and writing ability would change the kind of work she could get, Angela responded, It depends what kind of job I want, or it depends what I'm getting into. So, important, yeah. For now, my kind of job, it''s okay...but, umm, later on in the future, I guess, if I wanted to...if I wanted to come back and take something else...then it have to be more, more advanced. In discussing what helps her learn best in school, Angela said, In school? Mmm. What I do when I'm reading or writing something? I try to say it over a couple of times until I memorize it So, like studying, so I know when I see it the next time, I know the words or I know what I saw before. That way it help me. I visualize it. Even math. I got through it. When asked about learning something out of school, Angela responded, Sometime, if I'm learning something from someone, I watch them. I look at them. I see what they're doing, and then I try to do it by myself, and that help me to follow and...really visualize. Well, when I mainly visualize, I try to visualize what they're doing. If I don't have someone to watch, like in a book, you pick up a book and really try to understand it. Follow the steps, step by step. Sometime I write it down. Sometime I memorize it. If it's short, I remember it; if it's long I write it down. 76 When asked about learning environment, Angela related, "Sometime if I have someone to go (h)over stuff with me, that would help. Or umm I try to learn it by myself. Maybe get a book and practice on my (h)own. Trial and error." As she discussed learning material, she said, "Well, books help. By talking. That help too. You don't have a book and a person is talking." The most helpful format of textbook organization for Angela was reported as: What works best for me, is if I'm reading something and I have the topic, even a picture sometimes help. Look at the picture and try to figure out what the story is going to be about. Some time that really help. Some time that help. Highlight, good highlighting. Bold print help. Either they highlight the words or sometimes pictures. Print is okay too, if you can read it and understand it. Next we discussed manuals, and Angela said, Well, do you want to know how I would go about it? (The researcher responded affirmatively.) What I would do, I would try to read the manual, try to understand it, figure it out myself, take it step by step, look at the book and make sure I'm doing it the right way. It's hard. Try every step. Try this. See if it works. If I know a little bit about it, then I just look at the book and do it on my own. But if I never done it before, then step-by-step. When asked about instructions, Angela said, 77 I'm pretty good in figuring it out. I'm pretty good in that. If someone giving me instructions, I write it down. Especially if it is a far way to go, or you don't understand what you're doing. I write it down, so I can refer back to it, and then.... Angela perceived herself as an auditory and visual learner. "I learn best by listening sometimes...different...different times. Sometimes it's listening, then visualizing. I listen first, then visualize. It depends on what I'm doing." When asked about her relationships with instructors or teachers, Angela said, Well, the best thing work for you when you are learning is a good teacher. (The researcher asked her to define a good teacher.) Define it? Okay, okay. A good teacher is when you go up to her or him, he or she, and you don't understand something, and they will, you know, they will let you come up and they will explain it to you. They don't get mad at you, and tell you, you should know it. Yea, so that help. They're patient...lots of patience. They explain it to you, and make you understand it more better. If in the first place you don't. Peer relationships are also very important to Angela's learning process. "I like someone, like when I am learning, and I don't understand, I can go up to that person anytime and I don't feel bad, or I don't feel rejected. I feel confident that I can go up anytime and it's okay." Angela described her process of learning to read new material. New material that I've never seen before? What I do sometimes, for new material, when I get a book or something new, I look at the topic first, and then I skim. I skim it through, and after, I read everything and try to understand it. Then that help more, and I if I see a word that I don't know, then I try to figure it out, and if I can't then I look in the dictionary, and that always helps me...depending on what I'm looking for. Angela discussed various other aspects of the language process. When she is learning to listen, "I try to keep focus on what I'm listening to. Sometimes it's kinda hard to focus." Here is her explanation of learning by viewing a movie or a video. For me to sit. Same thing. Sit and listen and try to memorize or it depends; sometimes, I write it down. It all depends on what kind of movies or if I have...yeah, to take notes. If it's on a video, you can rewind it again and let come back to you, and then you get it. Just like a tape you can listen again over and over and over again. As we discussed writing, Angela's first thought was of the mechanical process of writing. Back home when I was small, learning to write, someone held your hand with the pencil. Back home, like when you're young, like kids one or two years old, they try, they help you with the pencil, so that help. Sometime you have older kids helping, but smaller kids help too. It's all part of the students. But, like to write, that takes practice. After describing, the act of putting letters on paper, Angela talked about the process of putting her ideas on paper. What I do, I have to think first, and then I write it on paper, rough draft. And after, I write it out, rough draft, then I read it again, and if there's 79 something that come up in my mind, then I add to it. I just like to write it out. I just write it. When asked about verbal instructions, Angela replied, Okay, if someone is saying something to me, I listen to what they have to say, and focus on it. So, like for directions, I have to listen, so that way, I know where I'm going or...get a piece of paper quick and write it down, so I can look back, like when I'm driving. If you get it wrong, you just look back on it again, get a peek, and it's okay. For writing information down, Angela described her process. What I do, by listening to the person clearly, make sure I understand it. Well, really listening. If I don't get it, I talk to them again, say I don't understand it. Ask them if they can repeat it to me. And, sometimes, you don't have to write it down." When reading information, she says, "By reading the textbook and write down words, like vocabulary and stuff. Try to know what the what the word is, and sometime I use the marker, that help me to see it more clearly. When asked about saying information aloud, Angela stated, "I would talk to that person clearly, so they understand what I'm saying, and give that information what I know." For learning to do something, Angela's response was, "Just do it on my own. That's the best way to learn sometime...practice, practice. Yeah, practice, practice, practice." 80 Angela came back to school because as she puts it, "I still didn't fully feel like I really understand much in reading that much, yet. So, I came back, and that helped me a lot to improve on my reading, so I came back to improve on it." Ellen's Story Ellen represents learners for whom English is a second or additional language (EASL). Ellen's second language is Cantonese. Ellen came to Canada two and a half years ago from Hong Kong with her husband, son, and mother. She and her family came directly to Richmond and have lived here since their arrival. Ellen came to the ABE program at Kwantlen seven months ago to improve her English reading and writing skills, and plans to continue. Although, she has only been in Canada for a short time, her language skills were such that she was admitted to the program. She started in the evening class (quarter time-six hours per week), and after two months, switched to the day class (half time-12 hours per week). She works with her husband who owns a ladies' clothing store. Early Childhood Ellen was 37 years of age at the time of the study. She was born in Hong Kong. She has three siblings, two sisters and a brother, who are "much younger" than she. The family was very poor, and from her report, her father was an alcoholic and a perpetual gambler. No one read in her home as a child, because as she stated, "My parents were both illiterate." 81 Language Background Ellen said that only Cantonese was spoken in her home as a child. In her home now, her son can speak English. However, when her mother is around, they speak Cantonese. "If my mother is not there, we can speak English. I can force my son to speak English. If my mom is there, we can't do anything." Cantonese is the language "of course, that I know best." Elementary School Ellen attended day school in Hong Kong from kindergarten to grade six. Ellen went to a private school for kindergarten. This was a private school that focused on money. Ellen reported, "When you went to apply to be a student there, they will look at your clothes, and ask, what does your parent do. They will choose some people who are rich. But, for my situation, I was special. My mom's boss paid."s Ellen described the building. It was in the city. Downtown. All of Hong Kong is right downtown. In my age, it is a two storey building, but actually the school was on the second floor. The school rented the first floor. The second floor was the school. No playground, just a certain place for the children to play in. Kindergarten only. Just one unit. But they give a certain place for the children playing. In this school, there were "About four teachers, including the principal." There were about 50 children in the school. 82 In kindergarten, Ellen reported that she had two special friends. "Actually, we live in the same house. Also the neighbor we study together." It was In kindergarten, that Ellen began to learn to read. "Ellen's mom's boss and the children there" helped her to go to her next school. As Ellen said, "I forgot the name. This was a bad, b-a-d school. Actually, this school was a private school. It was a good school-good teacher, but the money, but the money was a problem." This was for grades one to three. All the instruction was in Cantonese, except for reading which was in English and started in grade one. Ellen told about the configuration of this school. This school was not right downtown, but it was in the city. It's not a building. It was built on a hill. One flat building, but it was a big area. They have a large playground, but they don't have a library. It was open like a garden, wide open just like a yard, lots of trees. There were eight to ten rooms in that school, and it was grade one to six. In describing the demographics, Ellen said, There were 12 teachers, not including the principal. We had at least three teachers in a class. We had about 30 people, at least 30 pupils in one class-over 300 in the school. In this school-most of the people-very rich. If they are not rich, they cannot continue, just like me. For grades four to six, Ellen attended a public school. Here again instruction was in Cantonese. This was a public school which Ellen characterized as a school for "normal kids-some people very poor, not rich kids there. Rich kids go to private schools. They have more good teachers." She said, "The government not pay all, you have to pay part. You still have to have money to buy books. I read old ones, and 83 sometimes even I borrow books." This school was not in a residential area, but in a school area. "It was a big school with three storeys" In this school there were "over 20 teachers and so many children." Grades one to six were housed in the school. She described her school in this way. One floor had seven classrooms One grade had four classrooms. There were at least 21 classrooms. It had a music room, a science room. There were so many rooms. We had a library in each classroom, not a separate library. You had to ask the teacher to borrow books. Now every school has a library in a separate room. Ellen described the discipline during her grade one to three years. Some teachers were very good, but the discipline in the school is very strict. For example, when you don't do your homework, they will punish you with a ruler—hit your hand. When you are sleepy, the teacher will hit you on the head, and sometimes the principal will insult you in front of the whole school. Actually the whole school. They have a meeting every the yard. We all gather in the yard, and we are all waiting for his speech, and they will call someone who is the naughty one. They will hit them in front of the whole school, and warn them, if you do that, this will happen to you. That is a good example. This was not a positive motivation for Ellen to learn. I was scared. I kept my mouth shut. I don't think it helped me to learn. But, there, some teachers were good. They weren't like the principal. Those were the good ones. 84 Ellen described her favorite teacher. My English teacher. It was a man. He was good looking and very kind. About 30, not too young. He was very kind and always encouraged children to do better, and when you do a better job, he would say some good thing to encourage you to keep going-go on. But, if you are lazy, but sometimes forget to do homework, firstly he won't punish you. Actually, he never punished anybody. But he will ask you. But he won't insult you. You are better to finish your homework, and don't you do it again. That's a good teacher, and many students like him. If you are doing good, he will praise you in front of the whole class and say how good you have done. I like this teacher, and I can now remember him. Ellen also had another teacher whom she did not remember so fondly. I hate her. This was my mistress. My main teacher of my main subject. It was grade one. She teach us math and many subjects. She teach us many subjects, but I remember the math. She was a very strict lady, and about 30 something, I forget. I am not a good, I am a good student, too, but I am very weak in math. I remember, my mother sent me there. I am already past-in the middle term-l miss a lot of things-l cannot. I have a lot of problems in math, because she was so strict, sometimes I don't understand. I dare not ask her. If you ask her, she would explain once. If you still do not understand, she would say 'You are stupid.' She would like to insult somebody. So, I dare not say anything. I remember once. But, I don't know can I say it. Firstly, my math is very bad. I don't understand. But after a few months, she doesn't know my progress! I don't know why she....all my \ records...she lost. She doesn't know I improve. I don't know. They just notice the test. If the test, the test, if the test have a good mark, this is a good student. And then, in my record in my past, my record is not so good. I didn't get a good mark. But once, I got a full mark. I don't know why. That test, I got a full mark. I don't know. Suddenly, I figured out by myself. But, it's not her help. I just suddenly understood everything. She doesn't notice. I got a test that time. I got a full mark. She punished when I received my paper. She said, 'You are cheating.' I said, 'No, I didn't cheat.' She said, 'You are cheating.' I said, 'No.' She said, 'You are cheating.' I said, 'No.' And then she ordered me out, in front of the class, saying I am cheating, and 'I will give you zero. I will not give you full mark.' I said, 'I understand. It is all my doing. I will not tell a lie. It is the first time I understood.' And then she didn't believe me and punished me. I hate her. Ellen reported that her English teacher helped her most in school. This is what she related. Because when sometimes he saw me, because he knows me. When I got trouble, I hide myself somewhere, no people there. He will come over to me and ask me what's troubling me. And then, yeah. He's a very good teacher. He was concerned about something. He will take care of me. So I like him. Ellen recalled that she did not have many friends in school, except her two friends in kindergarten. 86 I was very quiet. Because, the children, like the people. They're good looking. They have a good appearance. For example, they like a person to have a good watch, good shoes, everything. I am poor. I don't have a good appearance. And I do not do any good in sports. I don't like sports. So I keep away by myself. So I got no friends. Actually, I just have schoolmates. I seldom talk. I am silent. Because it is a rich school. Every guy has money. I don't have. I learning there....Actually, grade one to six, I don't have any friend, I have no friends at all. It is my own fault, because I was not happy in that period, and I close everything. I have problem grade one to six. I had to move a lot during this period, because we don't have the money to pay the rent. Move and move. Ellen said with regard to her elementary school years, I have many problems in school because during that time we have to pay money...and later on, the government supported, but in my age, the government didn't support us, and we have to pay. So, if the person who doesn't have money to go to school, they can go to school, but they have to stand outside of the door and during that time, I will miss a lot of things, and I cannot catch up anything. I had a lot of problems and nobody to ask. When I first came on a problem, I had no friend there. Actually, this is only my problem, not the other person's. Maybe the teacher has too many students, they don't have time to notice their problem, because in one class they may have forty-five students. They don't have'the time...but the teacher is good. Ellen's parents were not actively involved in her education. When we got the exams. Every pupil, their parent, have to go to the school, after the exams, and the teacher will advise them how to teach us, how to help us. But my parents go, and after they return home, they will punish me because I don't get a good mark. But they don't help me, just punish me. When asked about what she liked in school, Ellen said, "learning English." She said, Well, because my teacher influenced me in grade three. I got a very high mark there in that rich school. I couldn't write very well at that level, and maybe the English teacher encouraged me and influenced me....I got problems in math. I got nobody to help me figure it out Ellen left elementary school at age 11, to go out to work. Secondary school in Hong Kong at that time cost money, and her parents did not have the money to send her on to grade seven and subsequently to grade 12. Night School After she had been working for a while, Ellen enrolled in night school at age 16. Here she learned English, and she enjoyed it. She said, "I felt curiosity about English, and you know in Hong Kong, if you know English, you get more chances to get a better job. So, I need English actually." At night school, she felt better than she had in elementary school. "At night school I felt better because I earned the money to support myself, and all the other 88 students were working during the daytime. They were all mature, and most of them are really studying, not playing." Ellen told about a schoolmate who had a major influence on her. After I left school, I start working. The first three years, I have no friends. After 15 or so, I have friends. I got a girl who is a school mate. But she is not really just studying. She told me not to be so serious. She led me in the happy way, and I can see things better and better. Then as I know, study is very important. So, I make friends. In school I feel very happy when the students are together-really study. Just enjoy, not study. Actually she influenced me a lot in my study, because she made it in a happy way, and then it started working. At age 19, she left night school to marry her husband. Private Canadian College When she came to Canada, as part of the immigrant settlement program, Ellen enrolled in a LINC (Language Instruction for New Canadians) and career exploration program at a private college in Richmond. This is a fairly reputable private institution, offering a variety,of ESL programs. She said that the LINC program was a few months and the career exploration program was six months. She said that at this college, most of the people focused on "a working chance; they just want to get a job, and the teacher teaches us about job skills-how to interview, how to communicate with the other people. The people in the college only wanted to learn something about the job." 89 Adult Basic Education Seven months ago, Ellen entered the ABE program at the Richmond campus a quarter time evening student (six hours per week). She later switched to half-time days (12 hours per week). She also enrolled in a daytime pronunciation class in the English Language Training department (six hours per week). She described the ABE experience as totally different from her previous educational experience. Here I have to study by my own self. In the school, you have an instructor, and they will explain in detail, everything, on the board. If we don't understand, we can ask questions, and they will respond immediately. Here you have to wait for someone to help. However, there are things about the ABE program that Ellen liked. I like the material. I like the environment. How can I say? If you don't go to school, and you just learn in the home, you don't get the pressure, and I like the pressure. As soon as you go to school, you've got someone. The teacher-good. The teacher is here. Actually, each teacher has their different method to teach the student, but I feel the teacher here is very patient. I can, in the week, progress by myself. In my country, when there is a whole group, you have to wait. Some people are fast; some people are slow. If I am slow, I cannot catch up. ABE is different. It depends on yourself. If you are lazy, you go slower. If you pay more effort, you get more. You don't have a time limit. So, this is good. Here is what Ellen disliked about ABE. I don't feel we have enough practice. It means..I don't know how to say. We need someone to tell us how to go. We don't know what to do. I like more instruction, more chance to practice. More chance to practice reading, and writing, and speaking. She was asked how this could be done, and replied, Let me think about it. Writing. Sometimes. The last time you teach me. I like that. We don't know how to start writing. Sometimes I have trouble writing. I don't have ideas. I don't know how to start it, and I don't know how to finish it. For reading, we have a volunteer to read with us. I don't know how to say it. Actually, for reading, we have enough. Maybe we don't have a lot of time in the class, so we don't have enough chances to read. Early Reading Experiences Ellen was not read to in the home, because her parents could not read or write. Her memories of being told stories and having stories read to her come from school. Of course, these were in Cantonese. Teachers would read some fairy tales, some ghost stories, some legends, and some funny stories. Ellen remembered being read to between the ages of six and ten. One story that she remembered particularly vividly was one about the moon, where there were beautiful fairies waiting for the moon's husband to help him to get to her. She reported that the teachers read stories to them only once in awhile. "Usually they will read the story when there were no lessons. It means after the exams or before the holidays when there were no lessons." Ellen described the method of reading instruction when she first learned to read at school. "They would read it once for us, and they would form one sentence or one word, and they would follow, and she would correct our pronunciation." It would seem that there was a major emphasis on oral reading, which is not surprising as Chinese is an inflected language. Reading Habits ' In Ellen's home now, she and her son read together. She reported that she doesn't like to read magazines, even in her own language, but enjoys reading books. She particularly enjoys reading English books. If she can understand them, she said that she will read them. She related a short story that she read in class. I particularly like a story right here. I read it for myself, right here. It's about aliens who visited the earth, and they misunderstood. They misunderstood the earth people. They think that the meter is a person. They talk to the meter. They don't have any response. I like that story. She said of manuals or instruction books, "If I need to I will read them, but it's not my interest." She said something very similar about cookbooks, "If I feel bored, I will read them, but I don't feel much interest in them. Sometimes I will look, but not usually." She stated that she enjoys The Vancouver Sun and Seng Do, a Chinese language newspaper. She stated that she likes "the regions section in the Sun, because it's about local news." She said that she also enjoys reading local news in the Chinese language newspaper. Although she did not go to the library as a child, she goes to the library now at least once a week. She affirmed that she does this in order to "improve my English". 92 She takes out audio books, novels, and some children's books. She chooses children's books because "it is easy for me." Ellen gets books at school and from the library. If she were to buy books, she would usually buy books at a bookstore. Sometimes she would buy books at a drugstore. She also takes advantage of book fairs at her son's school. She described it this way, "Sometimes the school, they will sell books. Some people do selling, just like in the PNE, they have some store...many companies together and they sell books. There are many books there." Ellen reported that no one has ever discussed a book with her other than at school. She does enjoy reading, and would rather read than watch TV. The number of pages in a book has never stopped her from reading it. At home, she has at least four .bookcases of books and described them as being as large as the ones in the office and classroom (about six feet high). When choosing a book, she sometimes picks the book by the picture on the front, but reported that she will open the book and read "if it is the one I want." She further elaborated on this by saying, "I will read the picture, and then I will see at the back, the summary of the book, and sometimes I will read a few pages, and then I will buy it." Reflections on Reading, Writing, and Language Skills In Ellen's home now, Cantonese is the language spoken. As was explained earlier, her son speaks English, and she speaks English with him when her mother is not there. Cantonese is the language that Ellen knows best. On a Likert scale of 1 to 5, she felt that her comfort level with Cantonese is at level four (confortable). Her speaking, reading, and understanding of Cantonese are also at level four (good). However, she feels that her writing of Cantonese is at a level three (fair). She 93 explained it thus, "Because sometimes when I want to write something, I feel a problem to express my feeling. I can write, just ordinary, but not professionally." , When asked about English, on the Likert scale, she said that her comfort level with English is one (poor). She speaks, reads, understands, and writes English, all at level one (poor). In discussing reading and writing difficulties she may have had in Cantonese, due to lack of education, she said, Because our language is...a very...I don't know how to say...It is something. I don't understand some people. They do have know, different people and they do a different kind of job. They have their own professional language. I don't understand. And even the young. I don't catch on to what they say. As a child, Ellen felt that she read at a level two (fair) on the Likert scale of 1-5. As a child, I don't a child. After I left school, I tried to read when I have time. I read, but very poorly. Sometime, if I don't have money, I have to stay at home because I don't have money to pay, and I cannot go to school. Even if my . mother pushed me to school, I stand outside the classroom. During her teenage years, Ellen's reading improved to a level three (average). She said that she learned to write and to read from the teacher at night school. "When I see the newspapers, some words I don't understand, but when I grow older, I know how to use the dictionary, and try to understand from the dictionary." As an adult, she described herself as an average reader of Cantonese (level three). When I read some books, I still have some vocabulary words that I don't understand, so I use the dictionary. She characterized her reading of English as fair (level two). She explained it thus, "Because most of my friends, I just compare myself 94 with my friends from my country. Most of them, when they open the newspaper, they don't understand nothing, and sometimes I can understand, but I cannot express myself immediately." In discussing the reading process she said. "A good reader is someone who reads, who is a good reader, but after he reads, he will understand first, understand the meaning, the idea and what does the story say, and figure out what do they want to write." When asked about how a good reader figures out what an individual word says, she responded, "What is the meaning, and how do you put it the right way. When you use the word you must understand the meaning, and how you put it the right way." In describing how a good reader knows what words mean, she first explained about Cantonese. "In our language, one words, it has a very different meaning, and the way you put it is very important. A good writer uses the imagination to describe things." In English she said, "They use a dictionary...! would try the dictionary, maybe I can ask someone else if they know. Ask someone who knows." In explaining how a good reader figures out the message, procedure, or story that the writer is giving, she said, The message. If I want it to come naturally, I can experience the message. It would help a lot, experience. The'second way, when you read some book, you get some knowledge. When you read some book, you've got the idea from the other person. You can try to use it again, and try to use it in another way. When you read something, you cannot just read it. You can see it in many aspects. Just like that. Ellen felt that books, other than textbooks, can teach us about life. 95 Some person, she knows me. I like reading. She says, 'I have a book.' She thinks I will like it, and I read it, and I learn something that is about life. I don't know how to handle it. But after that, I know, how to do it. It influences me. The book, yeah. , Ellen thought that her reading ability could influence the kind of work she could get. "I don't think I can do the professions, but when I find myself a new word or language, I think this is good. That's okay. It's improved. I will be very happy." Perceptions of the Reading, Writing, and Learning Process Ellen said that the thing that helps her most in learning in school is "good teachers--the ones who will help you." Outside of school, Ellen's best learning tool was the dictionary or "maybe if I'm not too shy, I will ask some people, if they know." Ellen's learning environment included friends, the media, library, family, and teachers. When asked about learning environment she said, My friends, the media-sometimes the TV, the library, my son. Yes, sometimes when he does some project, I have to help him. I go to the library and we research together. We learn together....And the teacher. I need a quiet place to learn. Learning materials that Ellen found useful, included TV, VCR, tapes, ( newspapers, books, a dictionary, and a computer. Textbooks were reported as helpful to Ellen in learning. In my case, I would choose a simple book, but it has the idea. Sometimes, I need the picture, because it will help me to imagine what it 96 is. I can see. I need information. Sometimes I need instructions, or a very good example. Even if they give me instructions, and they don't give me an example, I misunderstand. Exercises and practice help. Up until now I can't find a book that is 100% perfect. I like the short story book. Another good book is the one that you read a passage every day. They have a passage, and before the passage, there is the vocabulary, and under there they have a practice, and here is the answer, but it is mixed up. Then you try to use the word in a sentence. When asked about manuals, Ellen replied, "I just do it randomly. I don't actually use the manual." When asked about organization of instructions, Ellen stated, "Give me an example to follow. I try to follow the example, and use the answer sheet to see how I got it." The task that she is doing, determines how Ellen learns best. "For speaking, it is listening. For grammar, it is practice." Interpersonal relationships are important for Ellen's learning. Instructors should be "concerned about me as an individual-a friend." Ellen's parents influenced her learning too. "They told me. When I saw them; they are doing wrong. I will not be like them. They influenced me a lot." Friends in the classroom are also important for Ellen, as she related the story of her friend in Hong Kong who influenced her to study, because her friend made it more fun, and not so serious. Learning English is facilitated by Ellen's TV. She bought a closed captioning device, and so when she views a program, she can understand it, and she learns a lot. She also purchased a VCR, that she uses to tape programs. In this way she can follow the program, even if it is fast, because she can rewind and go over the material until she understands it. Ellen reported that she enjoys learning by listening, because: 97 It helps me to get more choice in the words, because I don't know a word one day. It helps me to stop the tape and rewind and go back and forth. I can't understand, if it goes fast. English is totally different from Cantonese. Cantonese is my mother tongue. When learning to write, Ellen finds that reading helps. When asked what helps her to write, Ellen said, Reading. If you do more you will know. If I want to write a sentence, and I don't know this sentence can be used many ways. I read more and I will can use it this way. Sometimes you...(I don't know how to explain.) I understand, but I can't explain. I remember the last time you wrote something on the blackboard. If you don't tell me how to, you say the appearance of the word. I don't know if someone doesn't tell me a message. I never know if you don't tell me. I need books. I need something to give me a new message. I come to school to learn; I want to get something. I don't want to waste my time. Verbal instructions are somewhat difficult for Ellen. "I cannot memorize instructions. In my mother tongue, I can. But in English, I have to write it down-even a short note." Short notes were also reported as useful for Ellen when writing information down. "Short notes. I need the explanation with it." When reading, Ellen stated that she likes to underline and highlight. When she reads something in a book if she doesn't understand it, she will underline it, and ask the teacher. She needs to have it simple. She felt that reading aloud was helpful for correcting reading errors, and it was also the most important thing for memorizing. Ellen said that she found it very difficult to follow only verbal instructions, even in Cantonese. She needed someone to show her. 98 Ellen's early school years appeared to have been quite traumatic and disrupted, with some improvement as she became more financially independent. She particularly appreciated the assistance of a caring teacher and an understanding classmate. School and learning, for Ellen, are the acquisition of knowledge. She said, "I came back to school to improve my knowledge." School and learning, it would seem for Ellen, are the keys to greater independence and financial security. Holly's Story Holly represents the learner who is Canadian born, but whose initial language acquisition is in a language other than English, and who may or may not be bilingual in the heritage language. She lives in Richmond with her parents. Holly is employed at GM. Place, working in the food concessions. She was in the program for four months and left the program in order to enroll in a night school program, for training as a dental receptionist. While she was attending the program, she attended half-time (12 hours per week). She had completed Grade 12 in Vancouver, but after applying for the medical office assistant program at Kwantlen, she did not meet the entry criteria in the area of reading vocabulary. Early Childhood Holly was born in Vancouver to immigrant parents, and was 19 years of age at the time of the study. Her father had emigrated from China, and her mother had emigrated from Hong Kong. She has two siblings, a brother who is five years older and a sister who is two years older. They are also, both Canadian born. Holly reported that "I learned Cantonese first, but I learned English at the same time too. We learned a lot of our English from our brother-like he is five years older than me, and then we had a cousin who was born here too." 99 Holly was fairly independent at a young age. She described her experiences of learning to cook. I started cooking when I was five. My mom taught me how to; she worked. Because in kindergarten you'd only have half a day of school, and you'd come home, maybe for the morning, and then you'd switch, right. So, I'd have to learn to make my own lunch or breakfast or whatever. She'd teach me how to turn on the stove, and fry my own egg. I'd have to get a chair and climb up on the chair. And then when I got a little older, for some reason, I'd think that flour and peanut butter would make peanut butter cookies, but I didn't know that you needed eggs and stuff, so I'd stick it in the toaster, and I'd try to cook it, and I'd eat it, and it would be gross. And then I started learning to cook, and it was so fun. Language Background Cantonese and English were spoken in Holly's home during her childhood, and both languages are spoken in her home now. Her mother is taking English classes. Holly said, "My mom's actually taking English classes. It's kind of funny, though. It's her union that organized it for her. It's an all Oriental factory, and they organized it for them." Holly felt that she knows English best. Her comfort level with Cantonese on the Lichert scale of 1-5 is three (moderate). She understands Cantonese at the same level (three-moderate), and reported that she reads and writes it very poorly (one). When speaking Cantonese, she felt that she speaks it at a level four (well). Holly is more comfortable with English (level four - good) than with Cantonese. She felt that she understands, reads, writes, and speaks English well (level four). When asked if she had any reading or writing difficulties in her first language, not due to lack of education, she said, "It's hard to say. I learned Cantonese first, but I 100 learned English at the same time. I speak English more." Then she was asked if she had any reading and writing difficulties in English, not due to lack of education. She replied, "No, I don't think so. I guess if I had paid more attention in school, I would know more. I don't know. I guess I drift off a lot." Elementary School Holly attended an elementary school in Vancouver's east end, approximately half a block from her childhood home. She related that it was an old gray brick building with three storeys in one part, and two storeys in another part." Holly, attended this school from kindergarten to grade seven. She said it was a fairly large school with two to three teachers for each grade as well as specialists-music (but she had a regular class as well), and ESL. Holly was in the ESL class for one year. I was in the ESL class for one year-l hated it. She was so mean. I don't know why they put me in that. I forget. I think I knew why, but now I forget. I thought I was smart. I thought I was doing better than a lot of my other classmates, but....They put me there. That was grade three, yeah, grade three. In the school there were about four hundred students. She reported that there . were 25 kids in each class. There was quite an ethnic mix. There was a big mix of kids. We had a lot of Italian kids. There weren't as many Oriental kids, as there is now. And all my friends-l was the only Oriental in my group of friends. But all of a sudden, in high school, all Orientals. She recalled having special friends in elementary school. The researcher asked if they were still in touch and she replied, "No, in high school we lost touch. There's 101 one. She wasn't my best friend, she was just an acquaintance kind of. But we've known one another since grade five, and we're still friends now." Holly liked elementary school and secondary school equally. Elementary school, I liked, was easier, and you'd have the same class all the time. You wouldn't switch classes, so you'd have that teacher all day long, every day....In high school it was a lot more fun being able to do more things, because in elementary, they were pretty strict about, 'Oh yeah, you have to eat in the lunch room. You can't go off somewhere. You have to have a note to go to the store.' She went on to say, "I liked the school, but I just don't like learning all those things. When I think about it now, it was so easy, but that was then." Holly did not like science in elementary school. When she was asked about the subjects that she disliked in school, she said, "I guess science in elementary school -- science." In describing the discipline in her school, Holly said, I didn't get much in trouble. But if I didn't do my homework, they...I don't remember getting in trouble that much. They would just...just ask me how come I didn't do it, and all I would say, 'I didn't understand it, and she'd say, 'Okay', and she'd help me out. One of Holly's memories of elementary school was her least favorite teacher. That ESL class. She was so mean. She made me cry in grade three. Yeah. Because I helped a student out. Because he would have to sit in the front. You'd write a story. I'm not sure what story it was, either a journal or something 102 you had to read, or something. You'd write it out, hand it in. The next day she'll have what you did wrong, like commas. She'll circle a word if it is wrong. If you didn't properly spell, like you'd spell the word right, but the letter you made...was your handwriting, you'd make a W. All the lines had to touch the line. She was really strict. And one time, and umm I was sitting at my desk, and this girl was sitting here, and she was doing her corrections, and all she had to do was, say, 'oh, there's a comma here.' But she didn't know that, and she was having trouble. So when the teacher, like, she was sitting front of the teacher, for like, maybe the whole period, and then the teacher left to go to the bathroom or something, and I got up to her and I go, 'Oh, you need a comma,' and then I came back and she told the teacher, 'Oh, you need a comma.' And then she thought, 'Well, how did you get that?' And she's, like, 'Oh, she helped me.' And then I got in trouble, and when I went back to my normal class 'cause this was maybe for only a period a day, she yelled at me for doing that, and I was crying because I didn't even know. And one time, she made me stand in front of the board, and I was practicing my 'W's', and I guess I didn't do it all the time, and she goes, 'It's not right.' And I thought, 'Why isn't this right? It looks like a W. And I was standing there, and standing there, and standing there, and thinking, and she goes, 'What's wrong with it?', and I go, 'Mmm. Nothing', right. And she goes, 'look at it more,' and she'd ignore me and she would be doing with other students, and I'd be standing there and I'd rewrite it, and rewrite it, and write it, and I still didn't know what was wrong. And, then finally she goes....She came up to me, and she made it right. And I thought, 'That's it. Just like that much of a mark, you wanted?' She could have told me and then I would have practiced it. But every time she wouldn't tell me. She was so mean. 103 Holly's parents were not actively involved in her school experience either in elementary or secondary school. When asked about her parents' involvement in her schooling she replied, No not at all. It was, like, I would bring the report card home like from....Til grade four, you only had comments from teachers, and then they didn't know how to read English. So, it would be up to my sister to tell them what it meant, and sometimes if we were getting along, she'd, you know, help me out. But, when we were fighting, she'd say, 'Oh yeah, she doesn't do her homework, and blah, blah, blah, blah.' She'd tell the truth, right. But when I got letters, they didn't yell at me for getting a D, or actually failing a course. But, iimm, I'd see my friends' parents and they would, like, get mad just for a C. I'd go, Td be happy to take your C for you,' right. And I had a friend who go kicked out of her house. Well, not kicked out, but her mom goes,' Oh, I don't want to see your face because you got a C So, she had to spend the night, like, outside. And then finally, she let her in. But it was just...and I was just a way I wish my parents did push me. Because, I mean, it would have helped me a lot. Oh, I better do good or else I'll get in trouble. That's how my friends were. And also, some of my friends were....'Oh yeah, I get money if I get an A, or I get money if I get a B, stuff like that.' In elementary school, they didn't care as long as I passed the grade. And then in high school, I failed...umm....l failed math, what was it math...Math nine, no....Yeah, Math nine. I had to go to summer school and I go, 'Mom, I failed Math nine,' and she goes, 'So, what are you going to do about it?1 I go, 'I get to go to summer school.' She says, 'okay'. She didn't get mad. And then I failed summer school. It was really bad because I forgot my calculator on the 104 \ last day of school, but anyways so....But, they didn't get mad, as long as I passed that. Okay, in high school as long as I graduate. Holly's sister was most helpful in school. I don't know. I guess my sister. She helped me a lot--to learn and stuff. Math. If I didn't understand anything, she would help me. She would help me try to solve it, or teach me the formula that you're 'sposed to use. In reading, if I didn't know...'cause I don't know a lot of vocabulary words, so I'd say, 'Oh, what does this mean?', and she'd try to tell me. 'Cause she used to, like, she wanted to be a teacher before, and we'd play school. So that's how she would always help me. I'd always be the student. Secondary School Holly attended a Vancouver secondary school for grades eight to twelve. It used to be a technical school for all boys a long time ago, and then all of a sudden, they let girls come in. It's a big building with a chimney stack. It's supposed to be the largest in BC or largest somewhere-l don't know for sure-largest somewhere. There were about 300 in our grad class. There were a lot of Oriental students. (The researcher asked why she thought there was such a large Oriental population.) She replied that her school was known as an Oriental school, and that another east end secondary school was known as an Italian school. Holly was asked if she had any special friends there. She replied, 105 Okay, let's see. I'd say I had two best friends during the whole five years. The first best friend, I was with I knew her in grade two. She introduced me to another girl and we were best friends for three years. But, it's hard keeping friends. You change. You change too. Holly was not particularly fond of the academic rigor of school. I didn't like school-school, but I liked hanging around there. That's the only thing I miss right now. I miss hanging around my locker, and stuff. Even though you weren't close with everybody, you'd say, 'Hi, how's it going?' When I would go to school, I would always look forward to seeing my friends, but then, umm, the classes I would look forward to would just be the foods class. I was going to get into that. I was going to be a chef or something, but for some reason, in grade 12, after I was finished, I was thinking, 'Oh, I don't want to be a cook no more.' In discussing what she liked about high school, Holly said, But then in high school, you didn't have to go to school, right, you could skip out. But, umm, also, it's just like, I don't know, you wouldn't see your friends, you'd be excited, and you'd say, 'Oh...', and then you'd eat lunch together. It was a lot more fun being able to do more things. In high school you could your lunch, just sit in the hall. Holly's favorite subject in secondary school was foods. For one I liked the teacher. She was nice. I was her pet. But, mmm...l found it easy. Actually, I liked, I liked cooking. I liked learning how to cook. Oh, I had 106 cafeteria and two blocks oHoods. Because they let me. My counselors had a chat and they said, 'WeiI....Because we also had a block where students could help teachers, and they file their stuff, or help the office with phone calls'....So, they figured out, 'Why don't we just give you to this teacher, so you can actually do the. extra cooking, instead of doing her work for her.' You know. So, they gave me that block. Holly's two favorite classes were foods and PE. The reason that she gave for enjoying them so much was, I guess because I knew that, that was the only thing I was good at. 'Cause I knew I wasn't good in math or science, those brainy kinds of things. But, uh...PE, I knew I could do, because that's something I could do. That's something I can do. I knew.... When she was asked about participation in school teams, she replied "I played softball for the whole....I played softball for nine years." She stated that she wouldn't play now, because "They're really good, and I'm kind of rusty now." She did participate in little league for one year. "It was all boys though. I hated it. I was the only girl." Holly disliked social studies in school. "I never could pass. I barely passed, but I had so much trouble remembering dates and places. It was so boring-learning about the pyramids." Although, science was not a favorite in elementary school, Holly commented, But then in high school, they would separate the classes like biology, chemistry, and physics. I didn't mind biology, but I hated the physics and chemistry part. Biology, I really liked. I had a lot of trouble in math too. A lot. I only went up to grade 11. I did 11 A, and then in grade 1.2, I took Math 11. I didn't find 107 chemistry interesting, like molecules, etc. and it was too much math. With math, it's all those formulas you have to know. Holly's attitude toward high school was not positive. I hated it. In the beginning I liked it. But when we had to think about our careers in grade 11,1 hated it. The reason why I got into foods was that when I was younger, I tried to cook as much as I could. Fear of consequences was never a positive motivation for learning. Was fear of consequences a positive motivation for learning? Mmm. Okay, well, no, I don't think so. Because, umm, the only reason why I'd go to PE class or my cafeteria classes was because if you didn't go to classes, you would have to make it up, or you can't get that credit. So, I would HAVE to, and that's how I would learn more, but cafeteria was pretty simple, and PE was just play. But the other classes....It was okay. If you're not there, you'll fail the test because you don't know what's going pn. That pretty much what happened. And then, like, unless, like the principals, oh yeah, they'd phone your house, and say, 'Your daughter didn't go to school to-day.'...but....My parents weren't home to receive the phone calls anyway. No, because they had...they changed it to a machine to phone your house, and umm....l go, 'Okay, I skipped school to-day, so I'll make sure I'm home at...between six and seven.' So yeah, I picked up the phone, and pretend it's a friend, and 'Oh yeah, you know."...or....'Cause I moved to Richmond in half of grade 12, and when they'd call, I'd go, 'Mom, I was late to-day.' Because I had that excuse because I lived so far. I'm taking the bus. You never know if you're going to be late. 'Oh yeah, I was late to-day. You know, that's why they called.' I was sneaky. .108 Holly described her favorite teacher who was a secondary teacher. My foods teacher was my favorite. She was pretty strict in having your recipes written out very, like, nicely and neat. But, I didn't mind doing that, because I liked, you know, I liked that class, and I also I can't stand it if my work's all. messy, right. Mostly, because I think I liked that class, so I never caused her any trouble, so she didn't, you know, pick on me or anything. And in grade 12, she would say, 'Okay, well, what would you like to cook?', and I'd pick out my own recipes for the whole year pretty much, and then she'd say, 'Okay, well, if you have any questions, just ask me.' And you know, because I was the only grade 12 in there-it was a split class. The grade 11's that were in it, they already took Foods 11 before, and they were taking Foods 12. I wasn't allowed to take foods in grade nine, so I was taking Foods 12 in grade 12. My favorite was Cornish game hen. That was good. We'd make a buffet. There was one time when we had two more students, so we made a buffet. We made these weird things. I don't know. But when they left, I made cakes and stuff. Holly described the social aspects of secondary school this way, It was fun. But, umm....There was one time in grade 11, there was....We had, like ten people, ten girls in our group. Everybody was divided into maybe two friends here, two friends there, and we had such a big conflict one time. They said, 'This person said...this person...and this and this and that.' We had a one humungous meeting, and everybody though we were going to fight. But I said, 'No, we were just talking, you know.' and everybody cried. It was pretty good. 109 Holly did not perceive that school prepared her for life. "I don't think it prepared me, because, I mean, right now, I'm going through the dental receptionist thing, and it has nothing really to do with school.' If Holly were given the opportunity to redo her school experience, this is what she would do differently. I'd go to school more. There was one time, umm, grade 12. I had such a bad time, because my parents were always getting on my case 'cause they were having trouble because we had just moved, and they were like laid off, and ummm, there was one time they both got laid off. So they just picked on me, picked on me. In grade 12, I need money for grad-grad dress~you know, grad this and that. And so, umm, I didn't go. I was so depressed. I'm just lucky, I had my boyfriend, because he goes, 'Oh, if you want to skip out, I'll be there for you, but you have to go to school.' And then he made a deal with me that if I go to school for the whole month without skipping a single class, then he'd buy me a Super Nintendo or whatever, right. So, just that month, I actually improved in my grades. I was like 'wow'. And then, my teacher would say, (This is when the teacher was getting ready for our marks, and she talked to you, before she actually put them in.) and she says, 'Oh, I notice you've improved.' and I go, 'Yeah, yeah, this and that.'....And then, I actually couldn't believe it. I did so well in that month alone. Holly left secondary school at age 17, because she graduated. "I barely got my grade 12, but I made it. I left school at 17." 110 Adult Basic Education As was mentioned previously, Holly was only in the program for four months. These are her impressions. "I came back to school 'cause I wanted to get into that medical thing, and that's what they suggested. Yeah, English vocabulary, that's what I needed." She did not find her ABE experience different from her previous school experience. She said, "Mmm...not really different." The thing that she liked about ABE was, "It was pretty easy. Like the work was easy. Like the learning part, the vocabulary part. I had no trouble, and it was like, you didn't make us do that. You didn't make us sit there and you didn't say, 'Okay, do your work.' So, it was very flexible." Although Holly liked the program, there was a down side to ABE. "Everybody was talking all the time. They were building too. (We had major renovation and reconstruction happening right outside our classroom from September to the end of January.) There was a couple of students too, that were talking all the time. When I did the reading, and I was trying to concentrate, it was really hard. (We had several students who had been admitted to the program, whose initial behaviors were inappropriate, who were later put on contract, and then were asked to leave. Unfortunately, they were present when Holly was in the program.) Holly's feelings about school as a post secondary student are relatively positive. I have to be more independent because the teacher is not going to go, 'Well, you didn't do your homework, so you're going to get punished.' You know. It's up to me. So, umm, in a way, I don't like it because there's no one there to push me to say, 'You have to do this or whatever.' But, also in a way, sometimes, when you just don't feel like going to school, you know. If you go there, you're just going to sit there; you're not going to pay any attention, anyway. So, now, I....You don't have to go. I just go because it's up to me. 111 Early Reading Experience Only Holly's sister read in her home when she was a child. "Mmm. Only my sister would read. She was the only one that read and read and read. Before I went to elementary school, they'd be into those romance ones-young romance ones-like Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume." No one but her sister would read aloud to her during the kindergarten to grade three to four period, and as she stated, "I would sometimes ask my sister to read out loud to me. It was mainly for her. It would be her books, though." Holly didn't remember any of the stories, "Just so long ago." Holly remembered going to the library as a child a few times. "I would never go there to get books. I'd go there with my friends 'cause they'd always get books. I just didn't like reading at all. If I did get books, I wouldn't read them." Holly told about an experience of being told ghost stories. "My sister and her friends, whoever had stories. Sometimes we'd have like little sleepovers, but sometimes somebody would bring up the subject of ghosts, and their experiences and stuff. They're scary. Just think if they're true." When she was asked to recall her first experience of learning to read, Holly remembered, "I remember we first had to learn the alphabet. Then we had pictures, like the 'a' for apple." She recalled learning to read at school and at home by watching Sesame Street J In recalling her reading experiences in school, she said, I was in the lowest group. There was only two and I was....I was in the slower one. I don't really remember the younger grades, but when we learned to read on our own, the teacher would just say, 'read this.' We'll get into our groups and she will ask us questions about it, and we would still have to read out loud. 112 She reported that she liked reading aloud, I like reading aloud better than reading on my own....Because I don', my sister gets mad at me sometimes when I would read out loud. Because that's the only way I understand it, because if I read in my head, I have to keep going and going, reading it....Even in your class, when I was doing those books, I would have to read that paragraph again and again, just to understand it. Oral reading was a favorite. When she had to cope with reading problems, Holly said, You mean understanding what I read or...? Well, if it was an assignment that I had to do, like, go home and read chapter so and so. I'd go home and read it, and if I didn't understand some stuff, I would ask my sister or brother, and if they didn't know what it meant, then I would just forget about it and leave it. Holly was asked if she used any other strategies. She replied, "Well, I don't know, ask the teacher after, I guess. But not very often though. Just when I'm really....I'd have to do this for homework and..." Reflections on Reading, Writing and Language Skills Holly perceived herself as a poor reader as a child, because "I didn't know big words, and I wouldn't....To this day, I still don't like reading. There's more things to do when you're a kid. I was outside a lot." As an adolescent, Holly saw herself as an average reader. She said, "I learned more while I was growing. Things in school got harder. Like you got into novels, and you HAD to read novels, We had short stories too, and socials and science and stuff." 113 Now, as an adult, Holly considers herself to be a good reader. She said, "I learned more. But this time, I mean, I don't have to read this if I don't want to. It's up to me. I would say that my vocabulary expanded more." Holly believes that books other than textbooks can teach us about life. She expressed it this way, Actually they will teach us about life. Yeah. I think so. Well, sometimes,, I like romance novels. I don't know if they're true, and they talk about guys and everything. I think that would teach you a lesson sometimes. Holly wasn't sure if her reading ability could change the kind of work she could get. Her reflections on the connection between reading and speaking were quite interesting. Umm. Well, I don't know, because right now, the dental thing I'm doing, I think, if you've got training, then you could get a job. But then, some jobs you would need to know a lot more than just training. Yeah, you have to speak sophisticated. I know a lot of people, when you're getting an interview, they'll also see the way you talk, and if you're interviewing me, and then you're interviewing say, a friend of mine, like, we'll be saying the same things but she'll be saying it more, you know, bigger words, than I would be. And she'd sound more professional. Perceptions of the Reading, Writing, and Learning Process As she talked about learning in school, Holly related her latest educational experience. 114 Mmm. In the dental receptionist course, there's so many new terms you have to know, and I would make cue cards for myself. A lot of friends would try to help me. They kind of, I guess, tutor me in a way. That's pretty much it. Because studying on my own was very hard. I can't concentrate. When learning outside of school, Holly said, "Just experiencing. Let's say work. Someone would train me. And I would you know...just by experience, I would get better at it. I would pick it up." Holly needs a distraction-free environment in order to learn. She reiterated, Umm. When it's quiet. I can't have distractions. Because when I was in your class, I never could do my reading stuff in your class because everybody was talking and everything. So, I'd do spelling usually in your class. Too many distractions. Holly stated that the taped materials worked well for her when learning. She also cited some other learning tools. The tape thing worked good. Even though, I didn't like his voice. It was weird, •because the microphone will pick up him sipping his coffee and swallowing it. Cue cards are helpful. I'm very....I'm really a perfectionist. I have to do things nice and neat, or else....I won't. I can't have something scribbled and then study off that, I have to have it nice. Textbook organization was also reported as an aid to learning for Holly. Well, I like the holding thing, because it sort of stands out, so you know that, that's a pretty important part, right. Umm, I like things that actually describe 115 what you're supposed to do, like in more detail. Some people say, 'Okay do this and that', and I wouldn't know what they really mean. And in math books, I like step by step things, so you, you know what you're really doing. Holly said that she likes a manual that she can use at her own rate, and did not like someone else going through it with her. She had some difficulty thinking of any manuals that she might use. The only thing I think of as a manual is to, like, start up your computer, and how to back it up. The dental receptionist teacher has her own computer and it goes on this big screen. She'll give you what to put in your computer-names and dates and stuff like that. It's boring. I already know how to put things into the computer. Holly likes to have instructions organized "step-by-step". As we discussed learning style, she said, I don't know. See. I think that in a way, vocabulary, for me, is easier to learn than other things, because, in vocabulary you can just kind of test yourself. You just close your eyes and okay, the word, and the meaning. You know to make those cue cards or whatever. When I explain things to people, I draw a map or write it down for them. Holly would like teachers and instructors to "explain it a lot more than just once, and go, 'Okay. This is how you do it, and then do it.' I need them to actually point it out and go, 'Okay, with this you gotta do that'." When learning from peers, Holly said, 116 The same things--to show me how to do it. If I'm in a restaurant and I go, 'So, how do you do this?' and they go, 'Oh, you just do it this way.' I don't actually understand that. They actually have to be with me and show me on that piece of paper, exactly what I'm supposed to do, instead of just telling me. Holly outlined the process that works best for her when she is learning to read new material. If it's, just say, for fun. I won't bother, if I read it, and don't understand it. Maybe, I'll read it again. And if I'm not interested in it, then I'll leave it alone. But, if it's something that I need to understand, then I'll use the dictionary. Holly reported that when learning to listen, she needs to write detailed notes. Sometimes writing notes helps when I'm listening, But then, sometimes, when I'm writing I miss out one word or whatever else they have. I like to write it. I don't like just to write key notes. I like to write more details. I might miss out because I'm writing too much. When viewing a video or movie Holly said, "Rewinding helps. Like that spelling thing. I like to rewind it and listen to it. When learning to write, Holly said that she finds models helpful. "Mmm. I guess looking at how other things are written. Like, if you're there writing an essay. I'd see that they have this introductory part, and then they have a conclusion part: I'd say the format." Holly stated that she finds it hard to learn things said. She said, "That's hard. Sometimes I get away with pretending that I understand. But sometimes, I have to ask them to repeat. I hate doing that, though." 117 When writing information down, Holly said, "Just writing everything in detail. Not just key words or whatever." Holly said that when she is learning to do something, she 'just goes through and practices it." When reading new information, Holly reported that she uses several techniques. Umm. A lot of times, I highlight things-like the most important things. Umm. Just basically, highlighting, I guess. Basically, when I read, I read it out loud, unless I'm with a whole bunch of people. If I'm by myself, I read it out loud. Like when I get letters in the mail, I'll read it, and I'll read it again, and finally, I'll understand it. Holly reflected on her process for saying infomation aloud. I don't know. I'm trying to remember when I've ever done that. Well, writing it down helps, but make sure it's in detail. I have to write it, so that....Usually, when I find that say, I'm in a real rush, I'll write it down, and then when I get home, I have to write it in detail, or I forget about it. Holly is a very interesting learner. She is not a reader, which may account for her weak vocabulary skills. She is a detail oriented person who needs to have instructions given carefully, precisely, and in detail. She, herself, also needs to write things in a detailed manner. She likes a quiet learning environment, and finds that it helps if she can verbalize when she is learning. She learns best when she receives feedback from others, or when she can simply practice new skills. In the next chapter, the researcher will analyze the data presented by these four learners, postualre a model or theories that may help to address literacy classroom practice with adult learners, discuss limitations of the study, and suggest future directions for adult literacy research. 118 Chapter 5 SUMMARY, LIMITATIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS Using a metaphor from weaving, the purpose of this study was to examine the weft threads, the vertical supports, that form the framework for the rich textures and colors of the fabric of the adult literacy classroom. Six major themes were explored: (a) the subjects' previous school experiences and the impact of these experiences on current reading ability, (b) the subjects' perceptions of language, reading, and learning, (c) the kinds of interactions that promote literacy, (d) the applications of literacy skills to the subjects' real world, (e) the best approaches from the subjects' experience for the acquisition of literacy skills, and (f) the subjects' actual experiences of acquiring literacy skills. First, the common experiences, gleaned from the subjects' narratives, are discussed under the six headings. Next, the limitations of the study are considered. Then, implications for the theory of adult literacy and adult literacy classroom practice are explored. Finally, future directions for adult literacy research are posited. Summary Previous School Experiences Not surprisingly, one of the predominant themes for all of these learners was one of struggle in school. It may have been because of: (a) economic circumstances, (b) learning disabilities or learning problems, (c) parental lack of English proficiency and cultural barriers, (d) parental illiteracy, (e) distance to school, or (f) the structure of the school system. All wanted to learn, but found frustration in their lack of academic achievement and success. They felt that school had not met their expectations. One subject in particular could not see any transfer of her school experience to real life. The others expressed the positive results of schooling in that it had given them the basics. However, all expressed frustration at the lack of reading and writing skills that stood as a barrier to success in the workplace, and to further training or education. Teachers were a crucial part of the school experience. The subjects described good teachers as teachers who were supportive. They felt that they could talk to them. They were always there to help. They would explain things until the learner understood. Good teachers had standards, but were not harsh. There were no insults from good teachers. They made the subjects feel good about themselves as learners. Most of all, good teachers were concerned about student problems and about the students as individuals. Poor teachers were not sensitive to learners' needs. They would explain a concept only once and expect the learner to figure it out for themselves. They made the subjects feel "stupid" by describing them as stupid, putting them down, and insulting them in front of other students. Parental involvement was important for these subjects. Two reported supportive and involved families, who, they suggested, enhanced their school experience. Two expressed a wish that their parents had been more involved in their school experience, and suggested that if they had been more supportive, their school experience may not have been as frustrating. Discipline at the elementary level in all cases was seen to be very strict, and in some cases, punitive. The children were shamed or received corporal punishment for misdemeanors. The subjects accepted the disciplinary system, although they did not see it as a positive motivation for learning. At the secondary level, all subjects felt there was more freedom, but reiterated that there were still consequences for nonattendance. The early elementary years were reported as a positive experience by all the subjects. However, as they progressed, the struggle began. When they reached the 120 secondary level, most found the experience more enjoyable as they began to experience some more practical and hands on courses. For those who experienced the Canadian secondary school system all reported that the transition from elementary to secondary was somewhat traumatic, as they had to change class every block and had so many different teachers. The subjects felt that they did not know them as well as their elementary teachers. As Quigley (1993) points out, literacy learners have not generally had a satisfying learning experience. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the literacy instructor to ensure that their experience in the adult literacy classroom is a positive one. Learners' Perceptions of Language, Reading, and Learning It is not surprising that all the subjects felt comfortable with their primary spoken language. All felt that they spoke and understood their language well. The two Canadian born subjects and the English speaking immigrant were very comfortable with English, and the EASL (English as a second language) subject was very comfortable with her primary language. The Canadian born subject who was bilingual felt that she could speak and understand her second language at an average to good level. However, she felt that she read and wrote her second language poorly. She did not report that she had received any instruction in this language, so this is probably to be expected. The EASL subject whose perception of her proficiency level in reading and writing her primary language is fair to good, felt that her English reading and writing skills were poor. One of the Canadian born subjects felt that she read and wrote English well. However, the other Canadian born subject felt that he read and wrote English at a poor to moderate level. The subject's perceptions of their chronological reading abilities are very interesting. As children, all reported their reading ability as poor to fair. Reasons given 121 for this included: (a) inability to articulate sounds clearly--the subject reported that he didn't speak right, so he couldn't read right, (b) poor teaching, (c) lack of knowledge of big words, (d) inability to sit still, and (e) lack of opportunity. As adolescents, three of the subjects reported their reading ability as average. They cited the reasons for their improved reading ability as: (a) the learning of new skills, (b) more maturity, resulting in greater effort and attention, and (c) more practice. One subject characterized his reading ability as an adolescent as poor to fair. He suggested that this was because he was pushed through, and as he grew older there was no more effort to help him with his reading skills. All the subjects reported that their self-perceived ability as adult readers is at an average to good level. They suggested that this was because of (a) learning or relearning reading skills, (b) expanded vocabulary, (c) increased understanding (possibly due to more life experience), (d) the fact that reading is now enjoyable, and (e) the fact that reading is no longer compulsory, and that adults can choose what to read for pleasure, and when to read for pleasure. The subjects' perceptions of how skilled readers read are very revealing. All stated that good readers get all their information from the text. They believed that good readers understand what they read. For them reading is learning. The result of reading for them is more knowledge and understanding. As one subject stated, "When you read, you see the many aspects of something." Only one subject described word by word reading. He said, "The good reader deciphers word for word if necessary." , The subjects' perceptions of how a reader comprehends what is being read is quite interesting. They stated that comprehension depends on (a) years of learning, (b) the ability to use context-read the next word to get meaning, (c) drawing on experience, and (d) the use of the dictionary. All reported passive strategies for gaining meaning from print. These included: (a) ask the teacher,, (b) ask a more knowledgeable peer, or (c) use the dictionary. These are the same strategies reported in the study by Seidow and Fox (1985). 122 There were a variety of reasons given for the need for the acquisition of improved literacy skills. These included personal reasons, the need for improved reading skills for further training, workplace needs, and a need to improve English reading and writing skills. One learner said that he wanted to learn to read to his nieces and nephews. He didn't want to hide his reading problems any longer. Two needed improved literacy skills for work. Two others didn't meet the criteria for entrance to training and career programs. All expressed an urgency to acquire improved literacy skills to better their lives. The subjects' perceptions of learning are enlightening. All have a very pragmatic approach to learning. They like to "do" things. Phrases like "hands-on, trial and error, just do it,...look at people and try to do it myself" occur throughout the descriptions of their learning process. All like step-by step instruction, which would seem to indicate that they are systematic learners. Practice is another predominant theme. Visual cues, visualization, memorization, and verbalization are seen as methods of learning and understanding. All expressed the notion that learning was their personal responsibility. They recognized that some external motivation was beneficial. They suggested that the school environment should provide the necessary motivation, and that learning is difficult without some external motivation and structure. The subjects reported good speaking and listening skills in their primary language. Perceptions of reading and writing skills ranged from poor to good. For the subjects who had a second language, their reading and writing skills in their second language were reported as poor to fair. All perceived improvement in their reading skills as they matured. Their understanding of reading was that it was a meaning making process. Enhanced literacy skills were seen as important for career advancement and an improved situation in life. All are active learners, who it would seem learn best by doing. In this group of subjects, a variety of learning styles seem to emerge ~ auditory, visual, and tactile. 123 Kinds of Interactions that Promote Literacy Interpersonal interactions seem to be very important in the acquisition of literacy skills. The predominant theme seems to be that of a supportive environment. All spoke of a supportive family, spouse, teacher or instructor, or peer as important for academic success. Peers should provide encouragement and be nonjudgmental. As one subject expressed, "It's like one big family with everybody out to help everyone else." There was a fear of being teased or being put down because of inadequacies. Approachability and a willingness to provide help were highlighted as important in peer relationships. Mutual application to the learning task was seen as important. As one subject said, "Everyone was serious about learning, no one wanted just to play, We were all there to learn." Several of the subjects also expressed the value of discussions of concepts and ideas with peers. One subject reported that his mother was particularly helpful in his.younger years as he struggled with school. Another credited her family with encouraging her to go to school and giving her the basics. As was noted, in the previous school experiences, frustration was expressed with the lack of parental involvement in early schooling. Instructors play a very important role in literacy acquisition Because of previous negative experiences with teachers who shamed, insulted, grew angry, and were impatient, literacy learners are particularly sensitive to instructor interactions. They reported that they expect their teachers to give support and counsel as well as teach. They must be patient and always encourage learners to do better. They should be "interested in me as an individual...a friend." Literacy instructors need tp be flexible, r and the individualized approach employed in our institution was seen as advantageous. However, individualization does not preclude direct instruction. Direct 124 instruction in specific skills was highlighted as being of prime importance to the subjects' literacy acquisition process. Several subjects stated that it was important that the instructor explain material to the learner and ensure that the learner understands. The importance of a variety of methods of explanation and repetition of explanations was also highlighted. Current family support was also related, particularly in the case of one subject, who gained support from her son, and who also gave him support in his educational pursuits. In the classroom environment, the subjects reported that they prefer a quiet, studious, nondisruptive, supportive, nonthreatening environment. They like to be able to express ideas freely, and feel comfortable in asking questions if they don't understand. It is revealing that none of the subjects reported book discussions, other than help with preparation for real life situations. The driver's manual and workplace manuals were cited. However, they did report that friends had recommended books that their friends thought might be of interest to the subjects. Supportive interactions whether family, spousal, instructor, classroom, or peer relationships seemed to enhance the literacy acquisition experience for all the subjects. Application of Literacy Skills to the Real World Literacy in the real world includes all facets of the learners' lives including home, school, work, the community, and society. Little writing was reported except for phone messages at work. Reading at work involved the use of manuals and cookbooks. All stated that they used diagrams and pictures, and found step-by-step instructions helpful. One subject said that she avoids manuals and just does tasks by trial and error. 125 All subjects related that they read newspapers. All but one reported reading the Province. This is interesting, as the Province is at a slightly lower reading level than the Sun and, due to the format does not have as dense a text. The Canadian born subject stated that he reads the sections of the newspaper with very low textual demand - the horoscopes, comics, movie and theater pages, and classifieds. The EASL (English as a Second or Additional Language) was interested primarily in local news in the Sun, the local English paper, and her native language paper. One subject related the use of fairly sophisticated strategies, in that she previews the front page and then chooses articles of interest. Calamai (1990) in describing a profile of a typical illiterate reports an amazing similarity in the choice of newspaper sections. In the description of a typical illiterate, it is reported that he says, I flip through the news and spend a lotta time on the horoscope and the sports. Can't stomach the funnies anymore, though. To figure out the comics today, you gotta care a lot more than I do about what's happening in government, (p. 16) Their choice of magazines reflects the subjects' interests and include car and off road magazines, ethnic magazines, trade magazines, fashion magazines, and sensationalistic tabloids. Their choices in books reflect the same eclecticism. These include adventure novels, mysteries, self-help psychology books, short stories, romance novels, and cookbooks. Calamai (1990) corroborates this. In discussing the choice of books, he said, "....For women, cookbooks, fiction, and religious. For men, manuals, reference and science." Three of the subjects reported that they did not frequent the library, except for study purposes. Only one subject reported that she used the library regularly. This subject used it as a source of language learning. She was not afraid of taking out 126 children's books that she was able to understand, and also made use of the extensive video tape and taped book collection available at the Richmond Public library. All but one of the subjects reported that they would rather read than watch TV. The researcher also questions the veracity of this statement, because of discussions in the classroom that indicate that the subjects' TV viewing may be grossly underestimated. However, TV could be used to enhance literacy skills as a springboard for discussion and writing. All the subjects equated good reading and writing skills with getting a "good" job. They all saw better reading and writing skills as the means of access to a good or better employment situation. One subject expressed an interesting correlation between reading and speaking. She said that training was important, but if you didn't have a good vocabulary developed through reading, you wouldn't be able to speak in as sophisticated a manner as another applicant. Several subjects stated that their reading and writing skills were adequate for their present employment situation or goals but they realized that they would need more advanced skills it they wished to improve their situation. Best Approaches for Literacy Acquisition From the Subjects' Perspective Learning materials and learning strategies were reported to enhance the subjects' acquisition of literacy skills. The complexity of the text was not mentioned by the subjects. However, text aids were mentioned. These were primarily visual cues. The following were cited as being helpful: (a) many pictures, (b) visually organized, (c) step by step instructions, (d) advanced organizers within the text that highlight the topic to be discussed, and (e) bold print. Taped audio material and tape decks, and video tapes and VCRs were found to be very helpful as the subjects said that they could go back, rewind, review, 127 and repeat sections many times. The EASL learner reported that she found a closed captioning device, combined with the use of her VCR to be advantageous in her learning English. The subjects?stated that they use many learning strategies in acquiring literacy skills. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, and viewing strategies were discussed. A variety of reading strategies is employed. Three of the subjects said that memorization is an important part of reading-whether it is individual words for sight recognition or word meanings. One subject found the intensive phonics approach employed at Kwantlen as being very beneficial. He stated that is was very important for him to get the correct sound with the correct letter to get the correct meaning of words. As was mentioned earlier, all identified the primary purpose of reading as getting meaning from the text. A number of strategies were used to achieve this goal. These included: (a) writing brief notes, (b) writing detailed notes-not just the key ideas, (c) reading aloud to get the idea, (d) reading aloud with coaching or alone to get the correct pronunciation so that the intended meaning of the writer is obtained, (e) discussion with someone else, (f) repeated readings, (g) asking a more knowledgeable peer or the teacher, (h) using the dictionary, and (i) practice on own -- just trial and error. Study reading strategies reported were'previewing and highlighting. One subject said that she used children's books to understand the concepts, because the material was easy to read but had the main ideas. One subject stated that when she read for pleasure she wasn't concerned about in-depth comprehension, just the idea. Having worked with these subjects, the researcher has seen them using all the strategies that they have delineated. Writing is perceived as communicating a message to the reader. One of the subjects is concerned with spelling the words right to ensure that he has written what he intended. Other subjects reported strategies that included (a) thinking, writing, and revising, and (b) models. One subject described the connection between reading and writing. She felt that reading helped writing because the individual reads and 128 consequently sees words used different ways. She also said that reading gives her a new message to write about. Verbal instructions and listening were found to be difficult for all the subjects. All said that they have to write instructions down to have something to refer to, and that they have to write short notes when listening. They also said that the instructions must be clearly and simply articulated for them to understand verbal instructions. Most reported that response is helpful and that they need to ask questions for clarification. When listening to a tape, as was mentioned before, it was stated that because tapes can be rewound to repeat information they were most helpful! Listening involves major concentration, and the subjects said that they found it difficult to focus. One subject said that she listens and then visualizes. When giving instructions to someone else, a visual learning style manifested itself as the subjects said that they would use visual as well as verbal cues. All the subjects were aware of strategies to be employed in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. However, it is important to remember that knowledge does not necessarily translate into practice. Therefore, adult literacy learners should be taught to use metacognitive skills as they engage in literacy activities. This will be discussed in more detail in the implications for practice section of this chapter. Actual Experiences of Acquiring Literacy Skills The work of Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, and Wilkinson (1985) emphasized that the early years are crucial in establishing the habits and skills of literacy and that the most effective way to prepare children to become fluent and enthusiastic readers is to read age-appropriate children's books to children, and to have these books in the home. Well's longitudinal study of language development in 1986 confirms this. He confirms that listening to stories and scrutinizing picture book pages are the best preparation for success in learning to read. The activities develop the ability to narrate 129 an event, describe a scene and follow instructions. In addition, by listening to stories the symbolic representation of language is developed. None of the subjects reported regular reading of age-appropriate materials as part of their preschool experience. Three subjects were not read to until they were school age, and then in two cases it was either only at school or materials for school. The other said that although she was read to at home, it was not until she was in grade two or three. The fourth subject stated that her older sister would only read books of interest to her, not books of interest to the subject. Three subjects reported that there was some oral storytelling, but that this was not a regular occurrence. The methods of instruction for initial reading instruction that the subjects described included: (a) memorization of sight words, (b) oral reading and correction of errors, and (c) association of sounds with initial letters of words. None reported systematic phonics instruction. None accessed the library during their early years. None were satisfied with their earlier attempts at literacy acquisition. All reported that the adult literacy experience had been a positive one. Particular strategies that the subjects found useful included: (a) systematic phonics instruction, (b) taped material that could be rewound and repeated over and over, (c) oral reading with a tutor or instructor, (d) direct instruction in specific skills, (e) encouragement to read, (f) lack of a work experience component, (g) the emphasis on learning, and (h) a supportive environment. Earlier literacy acquisition attempts had not been particularly productive for any of the subjects. The literacy acquisition experience for these subjects, as adults, was reported as a generally positive one. Limitations of the Study The research on adult literacy acquisition presented here has limitations. First, there were only four participants in the study in an urban setting This limits the 130 generalizability of the study to a larger population and a variety of settings. The findings are useful only for theoretical propositions. Second, the research and findings may be limited by the inability of the subjects to articulate their experience. Although each of the interviews in the study was marked by apparent openness, there may be hidden areas and blind spots because of the subjects' unwillingness to share certain experiences. Third, the nature of the instructor-student relationship may have influenced the subjects' telling of their stories and the researcher's attempt to interpret and analyze these. Subjects may have said what they thought the instructor wanted to hear, instead of being completely honest. As well, there may have been errors in interpretation due to "instructor blind spots". Fourth, only three language and cultural groups were represented. Other language and cultural groups may produce disparate results because of the cultural values brought by the learners. Fifth, there was no documentation or confirmation of learning disabilities or low cognitive ability. These could have affected the selection and construct validity of the study. The nature of the gathering of data is another limitation. The study used only one method of gathering data-narrative inquiry. Hunter's 1990 study used personal journals, interviews, and transcripts of radio and television programs to explore adult learner's experiences of literacy acquisition. Seigel's study (1990) used a data collection booklet, mean reading scores, and regression analysis of the variables to explore literacy development. Another limitation is that the data was only reviewed by one source (the study participants). It may have increased the reliability of the data if it could have been reviewed by an independent reviewer as well as the researcher and the study participants. These shortcomings occurred because of limits in time and resources. These limitations of data may preclude the proposition that the general pattern of experiences and the general pattern of process fully describe how literacy acquisition may unfold for adult literacy students. In spite of the limitations, this study does provide a basis for further exploration of the common experiences of literacy 131 learners from a variety of backgrounds using a larger population, other cultural groups, and other research methods. Although literacy skills involve more than reading skills, much of the focus of the study is on reading skills. Writing was considered, but only minimally. Therefore, a future study should include more exploration of writing skills and writing skills acquisition. Implications for the Theory of Adult Literacy As a result of this study, we are led to investigate certain literacy theories. First, assumptions regarding learning, especially as it relates to adult literacy are explored. Second, the connection between language, literacy, and reading and writing theory is analyzed. Third, the metacognitive aspects of literacy acquisition are perused Finally, the time required for literacy acquisition is explored. Assumptions Regarding Learning As Shaffer (1994) points out, there are certain assumptions regarding learning especially as it relates to adult literacy learners that must be considered. First, learning occurs inside the learner and must be activated by the learner. A theme articulated by the subjects was, "I am responsible for my own learning." Second, learning involves the discovery of personal meaning and relevance of ideas. Third, learning is indicated by behavioral change and behavioral change is a consequence of experience. Fourth, learning is a cooperative and collaborative process. All the subjects cited collaboration as part of their learning process. Fifth, learning is an evolutionary process. Sixth, learning is sometimes a painful experience that frequently involves risk-taking. This is probably something that we need to provide in the literacy classroom - the fact that it is permissible to take risks, and that sometimes when risks are taken, we are not 132 always correct, but that we learn from our mistakes. Seventh, learning occurs most efficiently and effectively when the learner learns to view him/herself as one of the best resources for learning. Eighth, learning is an emotional as well as an intellectual process. There will be moments of elation and moments of sadness and defeat. Ninth, learning is a highly unique individual process. Finally, he stated, "Virtually everyone can learn something at any time and in any place and while consciously doing almost anything." These principles, gleaned from a variety of sources and consolidated by Shaffer should provide a basis for our understanding of the learning process for adult literacy learners.. The Connection Between Language and Literacy Language and literacy seem to be inexorably linked as is evidenced by the link between the subjects' perceptions of language and their literacy skills. Wray (1994) suggests that there are six components to language awareness and literacy. The first is linguistic awareness. This is an awareness of the basic components of language --letters, morphemes, and words that can be arranged in different ways to signify meaning.. (This seemed to be fairly well developed in the subjects.) This also includes the knowledge that these components are maneuverable to make meaning of language. Second, is psycholinguistic awareness. This refers to the rules for fitting the components of language together. It is suggested that there are three major systems involved, (a) phonological - the system of sounds, (b) lexical - the role of words in sentences, and (c) syntactic - the appropriate word order to make meaningful expression. Three of the subjects articulated the fact that they had difficulty in the area of phonological awareness. Third, is discourse awareness. This is the rule for combination of the elements of language at a level higher than the sentence. This includes cohesion where the meaning of some aspect of text can only be determined by reference to information somewhere else in the text whether written or spoken. 133 (Several of the subjects did allude to using context to enhance understanding.) Fourth, is communicative awareness. This is an awareness of the ways that words, strings of words, or full discourse change depending upon the topic, purpose, situation, or audience. In other words, it is the appropriate communication for the situation. Fifth, is sociolinguistic awareness. This is the understanding of the influence of social context on the language used. It refers to the status and role that influences the degree of formality or the registers of language, and includes vocabulary, syntax, pace, and situation. The final component is strategic awareness. This refers to the awareness of a range of strategies to be adopted when there are problems in communication. (There was an inkling of this in several of the subjects' reports-particularly with regard to spoken communication. Although, it was not seen in the other aspects of literacy.) The adult literacy learner may be aware of many or few of the components of language, but the task of the adult literacy instructor is to raise awareness of all of these components in order to increase literacy skills. In addition, Wray (1994) suggests that there are three types of understanding necessary for development of proficient reading skills. These include: (a) syntactical awareness - awareness of the structures of language found in the reading context, (b) phonological awareness-- awareness of the sounds that make up words including the three ways of breaking words up into constituent sounds - (i) syllables, (ii) phonemes -the smallest units of sound in words, and (iii) onset and rime, and (c) awareness of book language- how written language obeys different conventions than spoken language. In view of this, Ruddell's and Speaker's (1985) model of the,interactive reading process seems to be the most applicable to reading acquisition for adult literacy learners from a variety of language backgrounds. Their primary hypothesis is that the reading process involves a complex set of interactions between reader and text to derive meaning. Their model involves four components: (a) reader environment - text, instructional setting, cultural background, and interpersonal communication strategies, 134 (b) knowledge utilization and control -- the processing of text and activation of information and procedures, (c) declarative and procedural knowledge -- reader's store of schemata related to decoding, language, and world knowledge, and procedures for their use, and (d) reader product component -- the outcome of the various factors interacting to produce meaning from print. The authors suggest that there is an interaction between each of the components with reader environment interacting with knowledge utilization, and control, in turn, interacting with' procedural knowledge simultaneously feeding into reader product. Therefore, all the components of the reading process are interacting at the same time to produce meaning for the reader. Hoskins (1990) views literacy from the perspective of a speech pathologist. Literacy is seen as a conversation. This was articulated directly and indirectly by the subjects. Hoskins suggests the following. First, the end goal of literacy instruction is effective conversational interaction focusing on a wide range of social, cognitive, conceptual, and linguistic skills. Second, oral language competence is clearly linked to written language. Third, disorders in oral language comprehension, auditory analysis, memory and oral formulation (which were mentioned by several subjects) interfere with performance in reading, writing, and spelling. Written language disorders (as reported by Chuck) are often seen as a primary residual manifestation of what was initially a language disorder. Fourth, Hoskins sees reading and writing as a social-interactive phenomena. This was not clearly articulated by the subjects, but the notion of gaining meaning from print when reading and giving a clear message, could be interpreted in this way. Hoskins describes reading as listening or engaging in conversation with the author and writing as an interaction with a nonpresent audience. In comparing oral and print literacy, Hoskins suggests that print literacy involves mastery of more complex sentence structures and more extensive vocabulary than spoken language. She also suggests that memory and recall skills are used differently in reading and writing than in conversation. Her definition of print literacy is the development of competence in the use of narrative and expository text. The pragmatics of print literacy 135 are also seen to be different than that of oral literacy. There is less room for presupposition in print. The pauses and intonations in print are indicated by punctuation, so the literacy learner must master these conventions. Also, there is a stylistic variation in writing that makes it different from oral literacy because it is designed to communicate across time and space. Downing (1986) has eight postulates regarding the connection between reading and writing that support Hoskin's theories. These are: (a) writing or print in any language is a visible code for the aspects of speech, (b) this linguistic awareness of the creators of a writing system includes awareness of the communicative function of language, (c) the learning to read process consists in the rediscovery of the functions and coding rules of the writing system, (d) this rediscovery depends on the learner's linguistic awareness of the features of communication accessible to the creators of the writing system, (e) inexperienced learners approach the tasks of reading instruction with only partially developed concepts of the function and features of speech and writing, (f) with reasonably good conditions learners develop increasing cognitive clarity about the functions and features of language, (g) the initial stages of literacy acquisition are essential, but conceptual challenges continue to arise and thus through later stages of education, new sub-skills are added to the learners' repertory (This is borne out in the subjects' chronological perceptions of acquisition of reading skills.), and (f) cognitive clarity applies to all languages and writing. The subjects' perceptions of writing, limited as they are in this study, are substantiated by the results of the National Writing Project (1990) which looked at children's perceptions of writing. The findings of the study were that: (a) the success of writing was often judged by neatness, spelling, and punctuation rather than the message that was being conveyed, (b) writing is thought about in terms of the end product, (c) writing is seen as a school activity whose primary purpose is to show what has been learned, (d) writing is an individual activity where ideas for writing are rarely discussed and outcomes are rarely shared with others, and (e) writing, reading, and 136 speaking are not always clearly associated with each other. However, this last finding is not necessarily the case with two of the subjects, as one spoke of the connection between reading and writing, and the other spoke of the connection between reading and speaking. Metacognitive Aspects of Literacy Acquisition Vygotsky (1962) suggests that there are two stages in the development of knowledge. First, there is automatic unconscious acquisition (we learn or do things, but do not know that we know these things). The researcher suggests that many literacy learners know how to do many things and know many things by virtue of the fact that they are adults. However, they are not aware of what they know. The researcher believes that this is true of the subjects in the study. Second, there is a gradual increase in active, conscious controlover that knowledge (we begin to know what we know and that there is more that we do not know.) This distinction is essentially the difference between cognitive and metacognitive aspects of knowledge and thought. Flavell (1976) provides a clear definition of metacognition. Metacognition refers to one's knowledge concerning one's own cognitive processes and products or anything related to them e.g. the learning-relevant properties of information or data. For example, I am engaging in metacognition...if I notice that I am having more trouble learning A than B; it strikes me that I should double-check C before accepting it as a fact; if it occurs to me that I had better scrutinize each and every alternative in any multiple-choice type task situation before deciding which is the best one; if I sense that I had better make note of D because I may forget it....Metacognition refers, 137 among other things to the active monitoring and conscious regulation and orchestration of these processes in relation to the cognitive aspects or data on which they bear; usually in the service some concrete goal or objective, (p.232) Brown (1980) delineates the metacognitive activities involved in reading. These include: (a) clarifying one's purpose for reading ~ understanding the explicit and implicit demands of a reading task, (b) identifying the important aspects of a task, (c) focusing attention on the important principal aspects rather than on relatively trivial aspects, (d) monitoring outgoing activities to determine whether comprehension is taking place, (e) engaging in self-questioning to determine whether aims are being achieved, and (f) taking corrective action if and when failures in comprehension are detected. Rapheal, Englert, and Kirschner (1989) have coined the term, "executive control processes" which they say are the metacognitive activities involved in writing. These processes involve: (a) knowledge of self - how I write and conditions that help or hinder, (b) knowledge of the task - the type of writing task, and (c) knowledge bf the process of writing - planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Another aspect of metacognition is the learners' self-perception of reading performance. The work of Kaminsky and Hrach (1990) is quite enlightening. They reported that almost all the students in their study were over evaluators of their reading -achievement. There was no significant improvement in their reading ability as measured on a standardized test. They suggested several reasons for this. First, they suggested that because of the instructors' positive encouragement and positive reinforcement and good performance on reading assignments, the students overestimated their ability. Second, it was suggested that a standardized test may be an insufficient measure of adult reading performance, and that one semester is too short a time frame for adults to measurably improve on standardized reading tests. Third, the researchers pointed out that the supportive environment of the classroom 138 may indeed have improved students' reading ability, with the evidence being given that these students could read materials regardless of the level of difficulty because they were related to students' interests and experiences. In working with these students, the researchers discovered that they showed evidence of being able to go beyond the surface of the text and demonstrate an understanding of the main themes, characters' motivations, and problem resolutions. It was suggested that standardized tests may not reflect this type of reading growth. The researchers pointed out that maintaining student confidence in their reading ability may be an important factor in enabling these students to continue their studies. Another researcher, Schommer (1990), investigated the effects of beliefs about the nature of knowledge on comprehension. Since the acquisition of knowledge was a common theme throughout the subjects' narratives, it seems appropriate to discuss her findings. Schommer's research addressed the questions, "What are students' beliefs about the nature of knowledge?" and "How do these beliefs affect comprehension?" She found four factors in her questionnaire about the nature of knowledge reflecting degrees of belief in (a) innate ability, (b) simple knowledge, (c) quick learning, and (d) certain knowledge. In a second experiment she asked students to read a passage from the social sciences or physical sciences in which the concluding paragraph was missing and had them rate their confidence in understanding the passage, write a conclusion, and take a mastery test. She found that those who believed in quick learning predicted oversimplified conclusions, had poor performance on the mastery test, and were overconfident about how well they understood the text. Those who believed in the certainty of knowledge predicted inappropriate, absolute conclusions. Thus student attitudes about reading speed and how knowledge is acquired can be powerful deterrents to comprehension improvement. O'Neill and Todaro (1991) designed a study to evaluate the relative effectiveness of metacognitive training in reading and study skills at two different reading levels ~ basic and upper level remedial. Students in the metacognitive 139 experimental group were taught what metacognitive strategies are, and how, why, and when to use them. They were taught to monitor their own work, summarize, and evaluate it by observing instructors modeling skills, and then modeling them themselves for the whole class and in small groups. They found that although students increased their use of metacognitive skills, there were no significant differences between the comprehension of students who received metacognitive instruction and those who received traditional instruction. Both groups improved their comprehension. Since metacognitive training did not make a difference, the investigators suggest that the best time to introduce metacognitive strategies may be after the student has mastered the basic reading skills. Time Required for Literacy Acquisition The subjects in this study had been in the program for periods ranging from four months to four years. The question arises as to the speed at which adults acquire literacy skills. Sticht (1992) prepared a report on the rate of acquisition of literacy skills by adults. His report looked at three studies. The first was a study from New York City published by the Literacy Assistance Center of programs that report to their database. The second was a study from Illinois, of learners in Laubach Literacy programs, Literacy Volunteers of America programs and eclectic programs. The third was a. report from the Literacy Volunteers in New York City programs. The analysis of the results showed that in all three programs, learners who entered a reading program reading below the 7.5 grade level made the most gain in the first year, and then improved more slowly, and by the end of the third year had leveled off in their improvement. Therefore, the researcher would recommend that after the third year in a program, that the learners progress be evaluated and a decision be made concerning the feasibility of continuance. As Rosow (1992) pointed out, "Well, sometimes it takes six weeks; Frank Smith says it takes six weeks. Sometimes it takes 140 three months; my first student took three months. But sometimes it takes 50 years or ... forever." Implications for Adult Literacy Practice This study does provide some implications for practice. As a result of considering the learners' experiences, we cannot generalize, but we can investigate some possible implications for practice including general principles for adult literacy instructional practice, reading instruction practice, and instructor qualities. General Principles for Practice When considering implications for literacy instruction, Wray (1994) articulates the following guidelines for literacy instruction: (a) Understand and teach complete literacy processes and make sure the learners understand these processes, (b) Model literacy processes for learners, (c) Engage the learners in discussion and teaching of literacy processes, (d) Make literacy challenging and involving, (e) Keep the environment supportive, but ensure that there is intellectual challenge, (f) Teach strategies directly, but in the context of meaningful experiences. Let the learners see how the strategies being taught are transferable (g) Ensure that literacy instruction informs the learners' lives'outside of the literacy provision environment. Shaffer (1994) delineates some qualities of good andragogy. First, he emphasizes the validity of the principles of involvement and student ownership. Second, he stresses the fact that adult learners are themselves a prime teaching resource. Third, he reminds adult instructors of the concreteness and immediacy of adults' goals. Fourth, he reiterates the need for the learner to experience success frequently. Finally, he reminds adult instructors of the loss of speed in the performance of academic activities during the mature years. 141 Shaffer goes on to outline some principles to be heeded for good instruction of ABE or literacy students. First, the learners have often had negative school experiences. Second, the remoteness of past schooling must be considered. Third, the self doubts of adults must be recalled. Fourth, there must be provision for encouragement and provision for success at the earliest possible moment. Finally, the relationship between a pleasant social atmosphere and a satisfying educational experience must be fostered. Grossman (1993) addresses the affective domain and learner fears in more depth. His recommendations include the following: (a) Students should be engaged holistically with imagination and experimentation in the classroom, (b) A development of trust should be developed before risk taking is encouraged. (c)A dialogue of self-disclosure for students to see their connectedness to universals should be encouraged to break the isolation of fear and anxiety, (d) A pattern of identification involving accepting, nourishing, confronting, and challenging anxieties should be developed, (e) The,role of the instructor must be seen as accepting and benign. Many of these recommendations can be developed in the literacy classroom through the fostering of a caring, accepting, learning environment by the instructor. The instructor sets the tone. Strategies that may foster the recommendations with regard to the affective domain may include journaLwriting or a commonplace book (which may mollify the somewhat negative connotations in some learners' minds of journal writing), and the development of a network of mutual support amongst learners. Because the theme of this paper is learners from a variety of language and cultural backgrounds, the researcher also wishes to address some general principles for effective instruction of L2 students. As Pinottzi (1995) suggests, in order for effective learning experiences to occur for these students, the instructor should understand their culture and its implications for learning. Various cultures "do schooling differently" and learners from varied cultural backgrounds have differing expectations of the role of the teacher, their role as students and the classroom 142 environment, and expectations. Therefore, it is imperative that literacy instructors develop sensitivity to varied cultural backgrounds. This can be done through print resources, workshops, and the best resource, the learners themselves. Pintozzi gives some specific strategies and recommendations. The learners should be assured that their writing does not have to be perfect in order to be acceptable to peers and teachers. Material should be related to personal experiences, with reading and writing activities based on personal encounters in a new country, or changes in the world at large. This could generate greater fluency. Ideas should be presented clearly and .. simply with frequent repetition. Multiple learning modalities should be utilized. These recommendations, of course, could be applied to all literacy learners. Principles for Reading Instruction Stone and Miller (1990) reinforce the cognitive aspects of a successful reading course. They evaluated a three-step reading comprehension cycle (predicting, confirming and integrating) where the students were taught the strategies to use at each step of the cycle. The instruction was described as following the model of demonstration; guided practice, and independent practice, and the reading course was offered as a corequisite with a college sociology course. Evaluation measures showed that more students passed the revised reading course and had a higher retention rate and significantly improved reading comprehension compared to previous years. Subjects who were interviewed showed themselves to be self-aware comprehenders who transferred reading strategies to subsequent terms. Stahl, Simpson, and Hayes (1992) present some general and specific recommendations from research for teaching reading to high risk college students. Their work was not a research article, but like Shaffer's work, is a compilation of their best ideas for teaching developmental reading, synthesizing research, theory, and experience. They recommend the following. First, a cognitive based philosophy 143 should be adopted. Second, the course model used should stress the transfer of skills learned to "real college courses". As a result of this study, the researcher feels that the phrase "real life" applications snould be included. Third, reliable, process-oriented assessment procedures should be used rather than an over reliance on standardized tests. Fourth, the students' conceptual background knowledge should be broadened, because many of these students lack reading experience. Fifth, vocabulary development should be reconceptualized from learning word lists to the realization that the "fundamental avenue to college success is the ability to quickly expand their vocabulary, and that students must immerse themselves totally" in the language of the discipline that they wish to pursue. Sixth, the learning strategies used should be research-validated, and the instructor should ensure that students know how to use them and how to choose among them. Seventh, students should be systematically trained to employ strategies through self-control training and other validated training approaches. Eighth, instruction should be direct, informed, and explanatory. Ninth, strategy control and regulation should be promoted by teaching students to plan, monitor, and evaluate their own learning. Tenth, high utility strategies should be taught to maximize immediate acceptance and reduce the negative attitudes that students have about taking these types of courses. Finally, writing should be incorporated into the curriculum to insure that students become cocreators of the text that they read, and can create their own understanding of content material and can develop a way to monitor and revise their understanding. Based upon the previous citations throughout this paper with regard to adult reading skill acquisition, it is imperative that in designing an individualized reading program for the adult literacy student that the instructor be aware of the many components of the reading acquisition process, and not subscribe to any one methodology. It is interesting to note, however, that in the experience of the researcher, many of our literacy learners are lacking awareness and mastery of the most basic skills of phonological awareness. As quite a few researchers, including 144 Sticht (1979), Pratt and Brady (1988), Savage and Mrowcki (1990), Smith and Dalheim (1990), and O'Neill and Todaro (1991) suggest, there must be automaticity of decoding, the most basic of reading skills, before any other skill instruction is even attempted. Intensive systematic phonics instruction seems to be the most efficient way of providing this (Belz, 1984; Miller, 1990). However, this does not preclude the metacognitive aspects of learning. Even if an intensive phonics approach is utilized, learners must be encouraged to employ metacognitive strategies as they learn the basic grapheme-phoneme correspondences. The Role of the Instructor Each learners' needs must be carefully analyzed and just as the learning process for the literacy learner is an evolutionary one, so is the learning process for the instructor, as the learner and instructor launch upon a voyage of codiscovery. The task of the instructor is to find the missing components of the learners' literacy acquisition process, and provide the instruction to fill those gaps, so the learner's literacy acquisition is enhanced as quickly and efficiently as possible. The role played by the teacher is crucial in adult learning. Some teachers think that it is their role to "help" the students to learn and succeed. These teachers look for and use many methods that increase their ability to do this well. Some teachers will do things their "own way" regardless of the effect it has on those students who cannot benefit from that way. Both kinds of teachers will be successful in teaching at least some students. Neither will reach all students. In all cases the students must participate in the learning process. No one can force them to learn. It is a matter of degree. It is a matter of caring. 145 Recommendations ) Future Directions for Adult Literacy Research This was a narrative inquiry study of a small group of multicultural learners in an urban setting. The effect of culture on approaches to literacy instruction could be undertaken in more depth with a single cultural group. Also, a comparative study of the effect of culture on approaches to literacy instruction could be undertaken with a larger multicultural grooup. The present study could be replicated in a variety of settings and comparisons could be made among settings. Quantitative studies could be conducted to confirm and expand upon some of the implications for reading instruction. A comparative quantitative study of the use of intensive phonics instructions versus another methodology could be undertaken, using a group with characteristics similar to those of the subjects in the study. 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What are the events that happened or people in your educational experience that had a major influence on your learning to read and write? 154 Appendix 2 POSSIBLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Language Background 1. What language or languages were spoken in your home? 2. Which language or languages do you know best? 3. How well do you speak this language or these languages? Understand this language or these languages? Read this language or these languages? Write this language or these languages? 4. Do you know any other languages or languages? If yes, what is it or are they? How well do you speak this language or these languages? Understand this language or these languages? Read this language or these languages? Write this language or these languages? 5. When you were in school which language or languages was or were used? 6. How well do you speak English? Understand English? Read English? Write English? Reading Experiences 1. Were you read to as a child? Tell me more about your experience of being read to. 2. Do you remember any stories that you particularly liked? 3. Tell me about them. 4. What do you remember about your first experience of learning to read? 5. Tell me more about it. 6. Complete this statement. I think I read like I do because.... 7. Tell me more. 8. How would you describe a good reader? 155 9. How would you describe a poor reader? School Experiences 1. Where did you go to school? Tell me about all the schools you attended, or at least what you can remember. 2. How many years did you spend in school? 3. Why did you leave school? 4. What did you like about school? 5. What did you dislike about school? 6. What were you interested in learning while you were at school? 7. How did you feel about school as an elementary student? As a high school student? How do you feel about school as a post secondary student? 8. Why do you think you feel or felt this way? 9. What do you think works best for you when you are learning? 156 Appendix 3 ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS AND REWORDING SUGGESTED BY PRACTITIONERS Language Background 1. What language or languages are/were spoken in your home now, and as a child? 2. (a) Which language or languages do you know best? (prioritize) (b) Add Which language or languages are you most comfortable with? (c) Suggestion that there could be some confusion as to whether English is included or only foreign language. (d) Do you have any reading or writing difficulties in your native language not due to lack of education? 3. (a) Scale needed. (b) How well do you speak this/these languages? (c) How well do you read this/these languages? (d) How well do you write this/these languages? (e) How well do you understand this/these languages? 4. Do you know any other language or languages not spoken in your home? 5. (a) When you were in school which language or languages was/is the main language of instruction? (b) In school which language or languages did you use? (c) In what language were you fluent in Grade 1 ? (d) In Grade 5 did you speak English at home? Did you hear English at home? (e) Divide into elementary, high school, college. (f) At school which language was used by the teacher and in the classroom? Which language did you speak with your classmates or on the playground? 6. ( Scale needed to allow for mistaken self-perceptions. Additional Questions 1. When and where did you learn English? 2. What languages do your grandparents speak? 3. Suggested that 3 may be a duplication of 6. 4. What language did you learn first? 157 5. Do any of your close relatives speak English? 6. Do any of your close friends speak English? If yes, what language do you converse in amongst your friends? 7. How many years of "English as a subject" did you have in your own country? 8. Since arriving in Canada or North America how many months of full time equivalency ESL have you had? Where? Daytime? At night? (ESL learners only). 9. How many years have you been in North America? 10. How many years were you in school in your own country? (a) How many of those years did you have English as a subject? (b) Which courses/programs were taught in English? 11. Where have you gone to school? (countries) 12. When you were growing up, what language did your friends speak? Was it different than the language spoken in your home? 13. Were you ever taken by your parents, guardians or teachers to a speech therapist, reading specialist, or teaching specialist because of language problems? 14. How much did you read as a child, and in what language? 15. Did your parents speak the same language as their parents (your grandparents) or guardians? 16. Did you spend a significant amount of your early years with someone who spoke a different language than your parents? 17. Did you, your parents, guardians, or grandparents change languages because you or they moved or traveled to a different country. 18. When did you begin learning English? Reading Experiences 1. (a) More direct question suggested - "Did someone read to you when you were a child? (b) In what language? (c) Who read to you? What kind of stories? At what age? (d) Was if often? (regular routine) or once in awhile? If so, who read to you? 2. Please tell me about them. 158 3. (a) What do you remember about when you first started to read? Was it at home or at school? (b) Could you please tell me what you remember about.your first experience of learning to read? (c) What do you remember about your first experience of learning to read? Was it at home? at school? somewhere else? 4. (a) I think I read like I do because....(Simplify construction of question) (b) Differentiate between content, frequency, and way of reading. (c) I think I read like I do? (What way is that?) More direction needed? (d) What do you remember about learning to read in school? 5. What do you think a good reader does? Additional Questions 1. Do you need to know how to read? 2. What do you need reading for? 3. How would you describe yourself as a reader? (a) as a child? (b) as an adolescent? (c) as an adult? 4. Who read in your home? What kinds of things did they read? 5. Tell me more about your reading ability. 6. Add as Ques. 1-5 (a) Do you read at all? (b) What types of books, magazines, cookbooks, manuals, etc. do you read? (c) Do you enjoy reading? (d) Is reading difficult for you? (e) Do you enjoy being read to? 7. Do you remember how you were taught to read in school? 8. (a) Do you enjoy reading? (b) If no, is reading difficult for you? Do you read at all? What do you read? (c) If yes, what do you read? (d) I think I like reading because... or I think I don't like reading because... 9. Were books available to you as a child in your own home? 10. How did the adults in your home view reading? 11. Did you ever go to the library if there was one? 159 12. Why do you read now? 13. How did you or do you cope with problems in reading? 14. Can you remember Grade 5? Grade 4? Grade 3? Grade 2? Grade 1? 15. If you dislike reading or read poorly what do you think might change that for you?? 16. Do you like to read? Why or why not? If so, what type of material do you enjoy reading? 17. As part of question 1, were you told stories rather than read stories? (the idea being that some cultures are rich in oral tradition). 18. Suggested that in Ques. 3-6 that feelings be explored more. 19. Is reading an important skill for you now? Was it important in the past? 20. Did your parents spend much time reading? 21. What kind of books do you like - adventure, fiction,.true stories, romance, biography, etc.? 22. Where do you get your books? school? library? bookstore? drugstore? 23. Has anyone other than a teacher given you a book as a present? 24. Has anyone ever discussed a book with you? 25. Who is the reader in your family? 26. Is anyone in your family a "book nut"? 27. Would you ever rather read than watch TV? 28. Does the number of pages in a book ever stop you from reading? 29. Can you feel lost in some reading to the extent that small noises don't bother you? 30. How many books do you guess are on your shelves at home? 160 31. How do you pick a book? By the picture on the front? By reading a few pages? By just picking up a book and taking a chance? 32. Did a book or short story ever make you cry? Change the way you feel about something? 33. Do some people just read a lot because they can't do anything else? 34. Can books teach us anything about life (other than textbooks)? 35. Do you feel your reading ability will change the kind of work you could get? 36. Were your parents readers? Did they ever take you to a library? Regularly? School Experiences 1. (a) Where did you go to school? Tell about all the schools you attended -names, places, grades, characteristics of teachers and fellow students. (b) Omit (at least what you can remember -- they will tell what they remember). (c) Suggestion that this question be put on page 1. (d) You were in elementary school high school other schools in India/ Somalia/ wherever...Tell me. 2. (a) How many years were you in school? (add what grade did you complete?) (b) What was the last grade completed? 3. Why did you leave school? (add) How old were you when you left school. (2x) 4. (a) What did you like about school? (which one?) (b) What subjects did you like in school? 5. What subjects did you dislike in school? 6. What did you enjoy learning when you were at school? 7. What do you think made you feel that way? 8. (a) What do you think helps you to learn best? (b) What do you think works best for you when you are learning? reading? listening? viewing? writing? (c) What do you think works best for you when you are learning things said? writing things down? reading things? saying things aloud? 161 Additional questions 1. Describe your favorite teacher. 2. Describe your least favorite teacher 3. Describe the social aspects of school 4. How did school prepare you for life? 5. You are now in ABE. Why did you come back to school? How does it differ? What do you like about ABE? What do you dislike about ABE? 6. What level did you reach in school? 7. Did you have special help in school? What kind? (Did it help?) 2x 8. Were you in regular classes? Were you in special classes? For what grades? 9. Did you repeat any grades? If so, which ones? 10. What do you do to help you to remember things? 11. What difficulties did you have at school? 12. What grades were you in when you first started having difficulties? 13. Did you feel that you were the victim of: (a) gender bias (b) racial bias (c) economic bias (d) personality conflict with teachers. Describe you experiences. 14. How would you describe the discipline in your school? 15. Was fear of consequences ever a positive motivation for learning? (Explain). 16. If you had the opportunity to redo your school experience what would you do differently? 17. Were your parents/family actively involved in your school experience? Explain. 18. Who helped you most in school and what made that person helpful? 19. How do you feel about being a student now? Why? (If feelings have changed, why do you think you feel differently?) 162 20. Add to #9 - What kind of learning environment? What kind of learning materials and strategies? What type of relationships with the instructor(s)/teacher(s) or peers? . 163 Appendix 4 QUESTIONS OF THE ACTUAL STUDY DEVELOPED AFTER THE PILOT STUDY Personal Data Sheet Name Date Address Phone 1. Age. 2. Country of origin. 3. (Immigrants) How many years have you been in North America? 4. (Immigrants) How many years have you been in Canada? 5. (Canadian) Province of origin. 6. (If not BC) How many years have you been in BC? 7. How many years in school? (including any post secondary training or trades training) (a) (Immigrants only) In your own country? (b) (Immigrants) How many of those years did you have English as a subject? (c) (Immigrants) Which courses/programs were taught in English? 8. Did your parents speak the same language as their parents (your grandparents) or guardians? If not, what language was spoken? 9. Did you spend a significant amount of your early years with someone who spoke a different language than your parents? If so, what language was spoken? 10. Who read in your home? What kind of things did they read? 11. (a) What types of books do you read? (b) Who are your favorite authors? ^ (c) What types of magazines do you read? (d) Favorite titles? 164 (e) What types of manuals do you read? (f) Do you read cookbooks (g) Do you read newspapers? Which one(s)? (h) Which sections of the newspaper do you like to read? 12. Did you go to the library as a child? Approximately how often? 13. Do you go to the library now? Approximately how often? Language Background 1. What language or languages arespoken in your home now? 2. What language or languages were spoken in your home as a child? 3. Which language or languages do you know best? 4. How well do you speak this/ these language(s)? (Show scale) 5. How well do you read this/these languages? (Show scale) 6. How well do you understand this/these language(s)? (Show scale) 7. How well do you write this/these language(s)? (Show scale) 8. Do you have any reading or writing difficulties in your first language, not due to lack of education? Reading Experiences 1. Did someone read to you when you were a child? (a) In what language? (b) Who read to you (c) What kind of stories? (d) At what age? 2. Were you ever told stories rather than read stories? 3. Please tell me more about your experience of being read to or having stories told to you. 5. Frequency of reading. How often were you read to? (a) often? (regular routine?) (b) once in awhile? 6. Do you remember any stories that you particularly liked? 165 Tell me more about them. 7. Could you please tell me what you remember about your first experience of learning to read? Was it at home or at school or elsewhere? If elsewhere, where? 8. Do you remember how you were taught to read in school? 9. If you had any problems in reading in school, how did you cope with them? 10. How would you describe yourself as a reader ?(l_eichert scale) As: Poor Fair Average Good Very Good Excellent (a) a child (b) an adolescent (c) an adult 11. Why would you describe yourself this way? (a) as a child (b) as an adolescent (c) as an adult 12. What do you think a good reader does when he/she reads? 13. How do you think a good reader figures out: (a) what individual words say? (b) what individual words mean? (c) what procedure, message or story the writer is presenting? 14. Where do you get your books? (a) at school? (b) at the library? (c) at a bookstore? (d) at a drugstore? (e) other? 15. Has anyone ever discussed a book with you other than in school? 16. Would you ever rather read than watch TV? 17. Has the number of pages in a book ever stopped you from reading a book? 18. How many books do you guess are on your shelves at home? 19. How do you pick a book? . (a) by the picture on the front? (b) by reading a few pages? (c) by just picking up a book and taking a chance? 166 (d) other? Please explain. 20. Can books other than textbooks teach us anything about life? 21. Do you feel that your reading ability will change the kind of work you could get? Explain. School Experiences 1. Where did you go to school? Please tell me: (a) the names of all the schools you attended. (b) Where was (school name)? Tell me about the place (c) How many rooms were in (school name)? (d) How many grades were in (school name?) (e) How many teachers were in (school name)? (f) How many students were in (school name)? (g) What were your fellow students like? (h) Did you have any special friend(s)? (i) Tell me about him/ her/ them? 2. How many years were you in school? 3. Were you ever in any special classes for learning or reading? 4. What was the last grade you completed? 5. Why did you leave school? 6. How old were you when you left school? 7. Generally, what did you like about school? What do you think made you feel this way? 8. a. Did you particularly like any schools? What do you think made you feel this way? 9. What subjects did you like in school? Was there anything about those subjects that may have made you feel this way? 10. What subjects did you dislike in school? Was there anything about those subjects that may have made you feel this way? 11. How did you feel about school as a/an: (a) elementary student? What was it about elementary school that may have made you feel this way? 167 (b) secondary student? What was it about secondary school that may have made you feel this way? (c) post secondary student? What was it about your post secondary experience that may have made you feel this way? 12. Were your parents/family actively involved in your school experience? (Explain) 13. How would you describe the discipline in your school? Could you explain what you mean by this? 14. Was fear of consequences ever a positive motivation for learning? Explain. 15. Describe your favorite teacher. 16. Describe your least favorite teacher. 17. Who helped you most in school and what made that person helpful? (It doesn't have to be a teacher.) 18. Describe the social aspects of school. 19. How did school prepare you for life? 20. If you had the opportunity to redo your school experience what would you do differently? 21. What do you think helps you to learn best? (a) in school? (b) out of school? 22. What do you think works best for you when you are learning: (a) in terms of learning environment (all the surrounding conditions and influences) (b) in terms of type of learning materials (c) in terms of the way a textbook is organized? (d) in terms of the way a manual is organized? (e) in terms of the way instructions are organized? (f) in terms of your style of learning? (g) in terms of relationships with instructors/teachers? (h) in terms of relationships with peers? 23. What do you think works best for you: (a) when you are.learning to read? (b) when you are learning to listen? (c) when you are learning by viewing a video or movie? (d) when you are learning to write? 24. What do you think works best for you when: 168 (a) you are learning things said? (b) you are learning by writing information down? (c) you are learning by reading information? (d) learning by saying information aloud? (e) learning to do something? 25. You are now in ABE. (a) Why did you come back to school? (b) Does this experience differ from your previous school experience (c) If so, how? (d) What do you like about ABE? (e) What do you dislike about ABE? Appendix 5 MEMORANDUM TO E X P E R T S M E M O R A N D U M DATE: TO: (Names) FROM: Bev Krieger RE: HELP! PLEASE! WITH MY THESIS! As you know, I am preparing my thesis in the language education department at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Dr. Florence Pieronek (822-5338). I am particularly interested in learning about adult literacy learners from a variety of language backgrounds and their experiences in gaining reading and writing skills right from the very beginning to the present. My intent is to conduct an in-depth interview with four selected subjects from one of each of the following backgrounds - native speaker (Canadian born and English is the only language), Canadian born where the language spoken in the home is not English, English as a second or additional language learner, and immigrant from a country where English is the official language, but it is non-standard English (e.g. the Caribbean or Fiji). You can help me by looking over the list of enclosed interview questions, and prioritizing them as to which should be asked first, second, third, etc. Please add any additional questions that you feel should be asked. 170 I have read the information and consent to participate in this research project. I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I am free to withdraw at any time. I acknowledge receipt of a copy of this consent form. Date : Name Phone Signature Beverley Krieger (Signature) Master of Arts Student University of British Columbia Language Education Department Dr. Ann Lukasevich Professor University of British Columbia Department of Curriculum and Instruction 172 Appendix 7 PROCEDURAL MEMO TO PARTICIPANTS Date: To: Subject From: Bev Krieger Subject: Participation in the study "Diversity in the Adult Basic Education Program" Hi (Subject).. Please read the enclosed letter very carefully. Remember you do not HAVE to do this. Agree to do this only if YOU WANT TO. If you are willing to be part of the study, please return the second copy of the consent form in the enclosed envelope to Margot or Susan Morris in Counseling by Tuesday, February 20, 1996. You can simply give it to the counseling reception desk for Susan. Remember that I am doing this to help in planning future programs and you are helping future students by helping me with the thesis 173 Appendix 8 LETTER OF CONSENT FROM INSTITUTION September 22, 1995 Ms. Shirley Thompson Office of Research Services University of BC 323-2194 Health Sciences Mall Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1 . Dear Shirley: This letter is being written to grant permission to Beverley Krieger to conduct research for her M.A. thesis, "Diversity in the A.B.E. Classroom" at the Richmond campus of Kwantlen University College from September, 1995 to July, 1996. Sincerely, Geoff Dean Director, College and Career Preparation Department 174 


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